Reality TV Trashes Black Women

By Samuels, Allison | Newsweek, May 9, 2011 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Reality TV Trashes Black Women


Samuels, Allison, Newsweek


Byline: Allison Samuels

An unsettling new formula: Eye-rolling, finger-snapping stereotypes.

Donald Trump's birther battle with President Obama may have captured all the headlines, but the drama that's really had Trump viewers glued to their sets is the catfight between his Celebrity Apprentice contestants Star Jones and NeNe Leakes.

The show has been a runaway hit for NBC this season, thanks in large part to the sniping between Jones, the embattled former cohost of The View, and Leakes, the former stripper turned Real Housewife of Atlanta. "Bossy, manipulative, conniving," is what Leakes called Jones during a visit to The Ellen Degeneres Show. And how does Jones feel about Leakes? "I really don't make a point of spending a lot of time with strippers," Jones tells a NEWSWEEK reporter over pastries in Los Angeles.

The mud-slinging makes for watchable TV, but it also highlights an unsettling new formula for the reality-TV genre: put two or more headstrong African-American women in the same room, and let the fireworks begin. From Oxygen's Bad Girls to Bravo's Real Housewives franchise, the small screen is awash with black females who roll their eyes, bob their heads, snap their fingers, talk trash, and otherwise reinforce the ugly stereotype of the "angry black woman." Take VH1's Basketball Wives and Love & Hip Hop, which feature the scorned ex-wives and baby mamas of rich NBA stars and rappers. No episode is complete without a bitchy confrontation or a threat to do bodily harm.

"What I see now on television for the most part is a disgrace, as far as how we're depicted," says Diahann Carroll, who was the first African-American woman to star in her own television show, Julia, in 1968. "I won't and don't watch it." Phylicia Rashad, who played Bill Cosby's lawyer wife in the iconic 1980s comedy The Cosby Show, recalls what the late NBC executive Brandon Tartikoff told her after the show went off the air.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Reality TV Trashes Black Women
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?