After the deluge of articles focusing on why black women can’t date, get married or find decent men in the dating pool, is it nice to be able to watch four black women presented as being single and attractive.
That’s probably the main reason I keep tuning into VH1’s Let’s Talk About Pep, Sandy “Pepa” Denton’s latest foray into the world of reality television. Let’s Talk About Pep focuses on the dating lives of Pepa and three of her friends: Joumana Kidd, Jacque Reid, and Kali “Kittie” Troy. Joumana Kidd, a sports journalist and former model, is newly divorced from NBA star Jason Kidd, amid allegations of domestic abuse. Jacque Reid, a newscaster most famous for anchoring BET Nightly News, joins the cast as a woman ready for both a relationship and a child – but not necessarily in that order. And Kittie Troy – formerly the voice of Cita, the animated host of a music video countdown – brings a reckless sexuality to the cast.
The four women frequently meet in a restaurant to recap their adventures (and misadventures) in the world of dating. LTAP has only been on for four episodes, yet the women have already discussed sex, dating younger men, foot fetishists, purely sexual relationships, phone sex, internet lovers, speed dating, approaching men, meet and greets and everything in between. Jacque Reid is the quintessential reporter, often appearing to interrogate many of her dates – as well as asking pointed questions about sperm count and personal goals within the first few minutes of meeting. And Kittie’s risque escapades feature activities like using a stripper pole and having her toes sucked in a limousine.
The show is also remarkable for it’s challenge of common stereotypes. In some ways, it is liberating to see a group of black women in their 30s and 40s still seen as desirable partners for a variety of men. While Pep nervously mentions that she hasn’t been on the dating market in a long time (and she’s been celibate for the last four years), she and her friends still entertain a broad cross section of men hoping to make a love connection. Pep and her friends break stereotypes in other ways as well – as if in direct opposition to the stereotype that black women are “too picky” to acknowledge good men, Pep, Kittie, and Jacque place their romantic affections on whoever catches their fancy. In Kittie’s case, this included a shirtless man who answered to “Animal,” riding on the back of a trash truck in the wee hours of the evening.
The subject of interracial dating was also breached with Pep’s love interest named Tom. An Asian-American chef, Tom was one of the few men in the series to seriously leave a lasting impression on the shy Pep, and provide a few scenes of true heat and chemistry. By using a blindfold, strategically placed chocolate, and a sexy assumed confidence in the kitchen, Pep joked about her “Asian Persuasion” but it was clear there was all kind of heat in that kitchen.
The show is intended to be fun and fluffy, but one weak spot in the show is the glaring absence of Pep’s children. She has two children (a son, Tyran, and a daughter, Egypt) who appeared on a few times on The Salt-N-Pepa Show but have yet to make any sort of appearance – or be referred to at all – on Let’s Talk About Pep. Joumana Kidd also has three children with her ex-husband, but they are also missing in action. Dating as a single mother is a situation many women find themselves in over the course of their lives, and it would be interesting for the women on Let’s Talk About Pep to confront that issue head on.
However, for what it is, Let’s Talk About Pep is a fun, dishy show that isn’t quite a substitute for Girlfriends, but still entertaining enough to host viewing parties. It’s exactly as Pep sings in the opening to the show: Hot chicks in New York City/Single and high siddity.
And considering all the horrible PR single black women have been receiving lately, it’s nice to have a break.