With Shaunie O’Neal, the mastermind behind the train wreck that has become Basketball Wives, promising that the women will behave more intelligently and in a more positive manner moving forward, many have questioned if such a shift is even possible. The brand itself is tainted and whether it’s BBW, Mob Wives or Real Housewives of Where Ever They Find Fame Hungry Women, these shows will be forever entangled with drama, childishness, and sensationalism.
Most people have forgotten that the entire Wives phenomenon began on Wisteria Lane with Desperate Housewives. The cast of Felicity Huffman, Marcia Cross, Teri Hatcher, and Eva Longoria – along with a revolving door of characters such Vanessa Williams and Alfre Woodard – engaged in intrigue, murder, adultery, catfights, and the repressed antics of women struggling with feeling invisible in the shadow of their men’s success. They bolstered their sense of relevance by creating a drama-filled stage of their own amongst themselves.
The predominately black casts of Basketball Wives and Real Housewives of Atlanta have – for good or evil – smashed their competition on Vh-1 and Bravo respectively. Is it because they are more interesting? More beautiful? Or simply because black women tune in to the drama with more frequency and debate the merit of the obvious stereotypes more passionately?
Whatever the cause of the phenomenon, the drama on the show has infiltrated society as many black women not only don’t find it entertaining, but have also begun to judge those women who watch. Yes, again we have found a topic that easily divides us and turns us against each other. We no longer remember that the entire premise of these shows is based on four suburban white women with too much money and too much time on their hands and that every, single spin-off since has been nothing more than a shoddily scripted template.
For some reason, though, BBW and RHOA have become the more infamous of the pack, and both shows are now viewed through a heavily-prescribed racialized lens – reduced to merely another vehicle for society to dissect and compartmentalize black women as if we are some unique science project.
And, apparently, we’ve received a failing grade.
Enter Shaunie “Queen Bee” O’Neal, who made the following statement:
“This has definitely been a heated season. “Basketball Wives” is filled with a lot of strong personalities with months, weeks, days, and hours condensed into about 45 minutes each episode. Unfortunately, a lot of these personalities have clashed and let their opinions and emotions overwhelm them, which has at times gotten the best of them, escalating into physical confrontations.
“As this group has been blessed with strong, smart, independent, sassy women with as much passion as vocabulary, there’s NO excuse for physical violence. So the cast, SHED Media and Vh1 have done a gut check, to stop allowing physical violence demoralize the show and impose a no-physical violence policy.
“Personally, I almost didn’t come back to the show, but I thought it was important for this to be said as some of the past actions this season I have not agreed with, it’s not what I stand for and never have. So moving forward, we have agreed to better the show, still with plenty of drama and fun (how can we help that?!) but with a more responsible attitude all around. This is important for me specifically as an executive and what I do and don’t attach my name to, as a grown woman, and as a positive role model to my kids.”
Well, I think Shaunie is missing the point. This show was greenlighted simply because it was a continuation of the Desperate Housewives meme. Red, yellow, black, white, or polka-dot, the initial fascination stemmed from potentially seeing “real” depictions of the outrageous characters of Wisteria Lane.
There has been some speculation that maybe, just maybe, a name change to go with Shaunie’s new agenda might help re-vamp the show. Instead of Basketball Wives (because, honestly, how many are wives and wasn’t the title crafted to imply drama?) maybe Businesswomen of Miami. If RHOA joined in the rebranding game, maybe Socialites of Atlanta would be a more inclusive name (because honestly, they didn’t even pretend that Kandi was ever married). This way, with both shows, the titles leave room for their charities and professional endeavors – those things they claim they do on a regular basis, but that we rarely see – can finally take center stage without trying to also stay true to the Wives reputation.
Still, at the end of the day, many people claim they want positivity, but how many will really support it when, if they’re honest with themselves, that’s never what they tuned in to watch?
The finale of the game-changing Desperate Housewives aired Sunday, and maybe it’s time that all these shows created in its honor do the same thing – bow out as gracefully as possible. Who knows, though, maybe a name change coupled with a change in direction will reinvigorate the franchise.
Or will a rose by any other name smell just as…desperate?
Weigh in Clutchettes: Would you support BBW and RHOA if they changed their names and revamped their image? Or is the drama why you tune in?