Maybe it’s all Keyshia Cole’s fault.
The Oakland, California-raised singer could have done what countless other music sirens have done before her, she could have just sung.
Sung with her heart out and let the fans decide if she stays around or not. But Keyshia, in a marketing and promotion masterstroke, hit us with a secret weapon, something so wrong but so, well, unlookawayable.
She gave us Frankie and Neffe.
And now we have “The Frankie and Neffe Show”.
But is that a good thing or bad thing?
Judging from the harsh comments many fans have left on discussion boards and forums across the Internet, the new reality TV show – which shows the mother-daughter tandem cutting up across Atlanta — on BET needs to be cancelled quick.
An online petition has even popped up, hopping to gain enough signatures to elicit a response from the show’s creators. The petition itself could use some work. It reads in part:
“Why … do we allow this buffoonery to continue? …. I’m not into making mean comments about anyone or take money out of their pocket but, These pictures saids it all.”
Is this person calling a spade a spade, or is it a great big pitcher of Hatorade?
The show, which Keyshia Coles does not appear in, is the latest offering from a channel that stresses itself as Black Entertainment.
To be sure the show certainly meets the criteria for entertainment.
Neffe, who can cry at the snap of a finger, certainly will hold your attention, as she courts her fiancé and goes about her daily business showing a range of emotion from joyously happy (you can tell from the tears) to outrageously upset (tears again) in mere minutes.
But the draw of the show is Frankie, who will act out in kind of sad but deliciously silly ways. The makers of the show hope that the viewers get it, that they see the sideshow as a maturation process. Producer James Dubose told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper this spring that the TV series “will show [Frankie and Neffe’s] growth and independence in their personal lives.”
But many people aren’t amused.
The show is evoking the same reaction as such shows as “Good Times,” which originally set out to show the triumphs and trials of a black family in the inner city but gradually morphed into a showcase for depicting “J.J.” as a clown, to the dislike of cast members.
The late actor Esther Rolle, who played Florida Evans on the show, reportedly said she exited the show specifically because it killed off the husband (James Evans) and displayed more of the silly antics J.J. became known for.
To be sure, many African-American shows have had flawed characters. “George Jefferson” of “The Jeffersons” was seen by many as a black role model, yet his character was written as a bigot who couldn’t stand race mixing.
But Frankie and Neffe aren’t acting. They aren’t seen as “characters.” When you see Frankie jumping around, and Neffe having a meltdown? That’s them. Dubose told the AJC, “Everyone has a Frankie and Neffe in their family.” And maybe that’s why the show brings forth the emotions that it does.
When viewers analyze Frankie they see the remnants of a very serious drug addiction, one that shouldn’t be displayed with such abandon, not by family members anyway.
When many viewers see Neffe they see someone who needs professional help, which is what family would do.
If they were in your family, would you celebrate their success or ask them to digress?