Atlanta — You’re sitting on your couch watching TV, flicking through the channels, stumbling upon VH1 and an episode of “Love and Hip Hop: Atlanta” is on. Joseline moves in a fast-paced motion, and she hits Althea. The drama forces you to change the channel, and you choose Bravo. The “Real Housewives of Atlanta” is on. The drama unfolds and all you hear is curse words being beeped out. You instantly turn it off.
What happened to television? Not just reality TV, but all that involves the portrayal of Black women.
The way they act leaves a representation that all Black women do is pour drinks on others and fight. It's not true, what happened to Black women on TV that had an impact on society and crossed those barriers?
Looking back on the TV shows of the early 2000s, “Girlfriends” in particular, had a significant role in African American sitcoms, their significance helped shape television and display the intelligence of Black women and women regardless. Showing Black women who supported each other while having successful careers and looking for love and affection.
“Girlfriends” was a glimpse into the lives of four friends — Joan, Maya, Lynn and Toni — as they navigate their way through life's trials and tribulations with wit and humor. It was the first millennial mainstream sitcom with modern Black women who ate sushi, did yoga and spoke ebonics with degrees. But through all the challenges of work and relationships, their friendship is their bond. The four women balanced friendships and careers.
Once the series ended, television shifted from supportive, successful Black women to drama-interested individuals. “When ‘Girlfriends’ didn’t return for a ninth season, there was a void in television narratives that focused solely on affirming the experiences of black women,” Fader reported.
As 2008 came to an end, that is when reality TV happened and we were introduced to”Real Housewives of Atlanta” (RHOA). The women of the show, called housewives, focus on African American women who manage families, relationships and businesses. The cast mostly consisted of several bold women: actress Nene Leakes; model Cynthia Bailey; Kandi Burruss, a member of 90s R&B group Xscape; Porsha Williams, host of “Dish Nation”; Kenya Moore, a former Miss USA; and Sheree Whitfield, the ex-wife of a former NFL player.
The drama shown never got resolved and eventually led to verbal and physical fights. RHOA – currently filming its 15th season – depicts Black women as drama-filled and ghetto. “Although the cast of RHOA acts exactly like the casts on other Real Housewives series, they’re viewed as loud, ghetto, trashy, angry Black women,” The Runner Online reported.
Just because RHOA is a predominantly African American cast, they are victims of stereotypes. Any other Real Housewives spinoff has a white form but they all do the same thing. Loud, arguing, and drama-filled. Black women are criticized more than white women in every aspect of society even if they do the same incident, although people only look at their color.
It is time to break the stereotype. There needs to be more shows on TV supporting Black women. They have broken barriers and continue to do so without the portrayal of certain individuals making it bad for the collective.