Starter WivesI recall the days when The Learning Channel actually had shows that were about, well, learning something. Founded in 1972 by the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare and — gasp! —  NASA it was  billed as “an informative and instructional network focused on providing real education through the medium of TV.” Fast forward to now, where it’s the home of popular shows with great redeeming value such as Here Comes Honey Boo BooBest Funeral Ever, and Starter Wives Confidential which debuted last night.

In summary, Starter Wives Confidential is TLC’s version of Basketball Wives, starring DMX’s soon-to-be ex Tashera Simmons (the only recognizable name), Funkmaster Flex’s estranged wife, and the ex-girlfriends of rapper Maino, boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr., NBA baller Lamar Odom, and rapper 50 Cent. It’s less basketball, more fighting, and about the same number of actual wives and scenes with women sitting around drinking. If you like to see Black women act up, tune in. If you don’t, start a petition now.

Given most of the participants, I had an idea of what to expect, but I tuned in anyway to give it a shot. I figured it is The Learning Channel, so maybe I should learn something, right?

Here are my Top 5 Takeaways (in no particular order):

1. Talking greasy about your ex says as much about him as it does you
Starter Wives Confidential is all about women spilling the tea on how they were done dirty by their exes. I don’t doubt the women were done wrong in their relationships, but they stayed. And putting up with a bunch of mess – and telling everyone about it— says as much about the guys they complain about it as it does about the women complaining. Most notably it says: “I haven’t moved on, because if I did, I wouldn’t still be talking about and defining myself as so-and-sos ex.”

2. As a woman, you need to make a name for yourself
It’s always bothered me that so many stars of reality TV have their name flash on the screen, and underneath in smaller print is “ex-wife” or “ex-girlfriend” of a name viewers would actually recognize. I don’t wish to imply that there is anything wrong supporting your man or holding down the homefront, but if a reality show co-star is expecting me to care, it would be nice if there was a credential to her name of what she currently is, even if it’s Homemaker or Work-In-Progress, rather than what she was, often a long, long time ago.

3. Delusion is a helluva drug
I’d call Floyd Mayweather’s ex by her name, but you wouldn’t know who I was talking about any. Anyway, when his ex introduces herself to the audience, she talks about her desire to reunite with ol’ Floyd and even says in complete seriousness, “I think Floyd is going to come running back to me.” Uh, ma’am. He broke into your home and beat the crap out of you in front of your children. Why would you want him back? Additionally, he is engaged.

4. Drama is also a helluva drug
Surprise — there’s a big confrontation at the end of Starter Wives Confidential, and I can’t tell you what it was over because I don’t think the women who jumped in each other’s faces even really know. But there was cursing and screaming and a woman, still yelling epithets and threats, marched out.

It made me think of an observation I had while watching Real Housewives of Atlanta. On Sunday, I tweeted that my favorite part of RHOA these days is the focus on the women’s business ventures. I wished that there would be a show about that. That simple tweet led to a Twitter debate about whether a reality TV show about Black women could be successful sans all the “extra” drama. I argued it could. I don’t expect a conflict-free show, but there’s inherent drama in everyone’s life. “I want X, Y is blocking my way, how do I figure it out?” is a form of drama and keeps a story moving, and it can be accomplished by acting like a well-behaved adult. The man I was having a healthy argument with said that the only drama worth tuning into was the fighting-bickering-throwing ish kind. With so much drag-down drama on TV, it would be impossible for a show that didn’t have it to succeed. It made me wonder if viewers are as addicted to drama as the women actually causing drama.

5. You can’t be a great dad and treat the mother of your kids like crap
Throughout Starter Wives Confidential, several women threw the father of their children under the bus, then followed up with a comment like, “but he’s a great dad.” One of the women making that observation was Maino’s ex … after she just relayed how he made a love song about another woman while they were dating, and also made a song about her, imagining all the ways he’d like to see her die. I’m sorry, what? Floyd’s ex — who again, was beaten by him in front of their children — made the same claim. Is this what we’re calling a “good father” these days?

Demetria L. Lucas is the author of “A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life”  (Atria) in stores now. Follow her on Twitter @abelleinbk

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  • I haven’t watched (and doubt that I will), but I’m pretty surprised that Monica Joseph would do a show like this.

  • Monica

    I did not see the first episode. I’m not even really sure I’m interested in watching this show at all.

    You can’t sit around and have multiple children with a man of financial means, growing more & more accustomed to a certain lifestyle, hoping he will marry you and then he snatches the rug from under you. A man is not a plan and that is the unfortunate lesson these ladies have learned especially the ones who were never married; now they want to “tell their story” aka make some fast & easy income by “rebuilding” their lives and getting closure on a reality show. I guess private therapy sessions are all booked up from now until the end of time :/

  • I agree and disagree at the same time. Where I agree: the learning channel stopped a long time ago teaching us anything except how exploitive TV as a whole has become. I often long for the days of scripted sitcoms that portray African Americans in a better light. Especially African American women.
    I myself, try to live life drama-free. Unmarried with no children and applying for grad school I often hear that I am the exception, not the rule. But I know a gang of educated black women not living off of a man with a million kids. We are out there.
    What I disagree with is the assumption that these women deserved the treatment that they got. By saying this is what kind I effery black men have suffered in silence with for years. Wow! Really?
    What these women are dealing with has been happening to black women for years. We have been cast aside for the Asian, white or a mixed woman as soon as the black man they are with have money.
    While I agree they are doing too much broadcasting this on a reality show (I don’t even tell my homegirls when my man act up) my heart strings are pulled because this is a common story among black women.
    Black men treat us like we are the bottom of the pile. If we are good enough, it is just to indulge on our curves that God gave us. And we are so loyal to black men, we tolerate it.
    Again, I don’t think putting themselves on a reality show is the way, I would rather strip before a limited audience where no one knows my real name before I cry on TV about some joker.
    Nevertheless, their story is a common and real one. All too real. Picking them apart doesn’t change the mysogynist attitude Black men have toward their women.

  • It made me think of an observation I had while watching Real Housewives of Atlanta. On Sunday, I tweeted that my favorite part of RHOA these days is the focus on the women’s business ventures. I wished that there would be a show about that.

    The first time I saw RHOA, it was Season 1 w/Lisa Wu seated at a conference table with some other ladies discussing her real estate venture. At first, I thought ‘Okay…nice.’ Then later on in the show, she starts talking extensively about being half-Black/Asian. I’m like… ‘nobody cares in the 21st Century what type of hair you have’.

    I’m going into my 2nd yr. w/out cable and from the looks of things, I left Time Warner just in time. If this is what’s replacing those documentaries TLC used to show, then I’m afraid I will have to stay cable-free indefinitely.

  • sally

    If Honey Boo Boo is good enough to stay on (the worst), then what can be more ratchet than that? Let Tashera save her kids house first before we start talking petitions. That bothers me that I havent seen one for “Bad Girls Club”, “Mob Wives”, etc. But as soon as a few black people start a show, it’s an overnight hit, here come the petitions! I just dont get it, every darn show is on tv to pay their bills, turn the channel and stop hating in this economy, why cant their kids have a future, college education, etc. Leave them alone, start with the ones that have been getting away with it for too long! Start with Jerry Springer, the most ratchet of them all! Really!