In the middle of having my ass handed to me in school, but I STILL needed to make time to share this.
For those of us who do not have cable/satellite, but wanted to see the train-wreck that was the Aaliyah biopic, I suppose had a few options to gain access to it. The access-way I chose was to watch it through the lifetime app (everyone has an app now-a-days). Following that experience, I needed to get some busywork done and wanted some silly reality TV on in the background, so I asked my roommate to pick something to put on in the background. I found whatever was chosen to be exactly what I was looking for in the background. Upon finishing my work (about 2 episodes in) I was finally able to pay attention to what had been on in the background, which brings me to this post.
Lifetime really needs to be stopped at this point. I fortunately haven’t had access to this network until recently, and now they have shows that glorify rich neglectful parents, movies that horribly and disrespectfully represent legends who were taken early on in life (even in the face of said legend’s family protest), the redemptive narrative (basically when one has to triumph over all this adversity to be seen as strong, powerful, and important _because it’s lifetime_), and now we have Girlfriend Intervention.
Upon my brief research of this show, I’m glad to report that it did get a lot of shade. It needs more shade, more people need to see this crap, because hopefully the more discourse around it, the sooner it will be taken off the air.
I am not usually about that life when it comes to telling people what to watch and what to avoid, but this show seriously is gross and offensive to me. Let’s begin at premise 1
Inside every white woman is a strong black woman ready to bust out.
_Excuse me, I had to finish rolling my eyes_
So, the above phrase is actually the show’s tagline. Immediately, I was like, ‘what does that even mean?!’ I knew this was going to get offensive, and quick. Premise 2
If we give these white women the tools they need like really loudly colored outfits and matching make-up, put extensions in their hair, change one room in their homes to reflect this change we are making, and create a space for these white women to emulate black stereotypes, then these white women will be better, more confident, and will take grasp of their suburban household back.
**The above are my words, not those of the folks having to do anything with the show.** However, watch one episode, and I find that you will see why I chose this as my second premise. Let me give you my purview of the show. Basically the show begins with the “girlfriends” sitting in a boutique setting (which I think might be their ‘girlfriends’ HQ’) showing one another some outrageous shoes they’ve picked out and/or clothing & accessories, while offering ‘black woman insight’, as though every black woman is identical, and that those identifying as a black woman is a part of a monolith that is black women. After that, they move on to discuss this episode’s BW (basic woman), who I suppose is what one might imagine a quintessential frumpy person to be (except this show is only focusing on white women here). After they basically make fun of how frumpy she is, they move on to search her place (without the BW present). While in the BW’s space, they make fun of anything they find and keep affirming that this woman NEEDS them, and needs this black-woman-intervention.
Enter BW, who is shocked to find these “girlfriends” all up in her home and her stuff. They pick on her a bit there, tell her that she’s going to be given an intervention, then they head off to ‘girlfriends’ HQ’ to pick apart BW’s choice of dress. After they gawk and critique how basic the BW is at ‘girlfriends’ HQ’, they move on to something violently titled (I’ve forgotten what it actually is called) where they make the BW dress in a few outfits they pick out and basically don’t listen to any BW apprehension. From there, the girlfriends take from their experience of dressing the BW to choose a look for her. After that, they change one room in the BW’s home to reflect the new look. The girlfriends then take the BW to do some sort of activity after they have their brightly colored cocktail du jour. During the activity, there is a moment that the BW finally finds her inner black woman, whether that means they get low, speak in a stereotypically loud and boisterous manner, rap, or what have you. Whatever can be stereotypically considered black, this is the part of the show where the BW claims her blackness. The BW has her hair and make-up done, then it’s time for the reveal. The girlfriends ‘ooh, and awe, and coo’ to the newly black woman, and the former BW explains that now she understands what this was all about, and basically how important it is to find your inner black woman.
Conclusion based on the premses: Black women are products and objects (not to be confused with being human) to aid to the blossoming of frumpy white women of ‘merica (who are more human in their white BW frumpiness than black women seem to be in all of the product’s clichés, stereotypes, and caricatures).
So, this has led me to some questions. Why is there a show out there that is SO exclusionary based on race (a group of black fixers there to help fix white women, who don’t really _need_ any fixing)? Also, how in the world does this show find their white women to fix? Seems that it is simply a case of stereotyping on BOTH ends (with the casting of the BW’s & the girlfriends). Also, if these white women are referred to as ‘Basic Women’, where the hell does that leave the rest of us? Why are these BW’s so important that they need these black women to fix them in this sort of way? This to me seems to be seriously dissolving black lives into an entity, a product, not really an embodiment or identity. Why was it so easy for these girlfriends to give their blackness away to all these white BW’s? Also, don’t let these women find out that the BW’s partner is black. Then it goes to a really dark place… (really, no pun intended)
Let me not EVEN get into the fact that NOT ONE of the producers is black. No blackness to be found ANYWHERE.
There are some latent questions lingering as well on the personal level. For example- why, in the background, did this seem like a perfect fit reality show to have on? This, and questions like it all are making me think of implicit bias and our socialized perpetuation of White Supremacist mentality. I’m a little sick about it, so I had to share.
But let’s end with something super awesome that was created from this mess. Here is an awesome video from Jessica Williams & Phoebe Robinson entitled, “The Intervention.”
Hopefully this caused a moment of thought, disgust, or general discomfort. I’m sure that I will continue to ruminate on my whole experience, and try to learn and grow from it.
Until Next Time,