Last night the BET Awards took place and between comments about what celebs wore and who turned in a hot performance, the black Twitterverse lit up with comments about how “bootleg” the network is and how the show should be dubbed the “EBT Awards.”
While watching and live tweeting the show, I wondered what people really want from BET.
Although BET’s history of relying on questionable music videos and less-than-stellar portrayals of black folks are certainly at the heart of most people’s biggest criticisms, over the past few years the network has been working overtime to provide quality programming for an audience hungry to see black folks on screen.
Gone are the strip club-esque videos of “Uncut” and the computer-generated, around-the-way VJ Miss Cita, and instead BET has aggressively gone after producing original programing, specials, and reality shows that aim to fill a void for black viewers.
Many continually call BET “ghetto” and “low budget,” but I must admit the BET Awards is much more entertaining than the Grammys or the MTV Awards. From the various performances to the sometimes hilarious banter, BET’s awards shows (minus the hip-hop awards; I don’t fool with that one) are just far more interesting than those we see on other networks. I mean, who else is going to honor Frankie Beverley and Maze or Earth, Wind, and Fire? Seriously?
Aside from its award shows, BET is also taking steps to introduce original programming featuring black casts. For all of its imperfections, there is no other network that can boast sitcoms (“Reed Between the Lines,” “The Game,” “Let’s Stay Together,” and “Being Mary Jane”), sketch comedy shows (“House Husbands,” “Second Generation”), a news program (“Don’t Sleep with TJ Holmes”), and original films (Middle of Nowhere, Luv, Gun Hill) that feature this many black folks. And while BET has its share of reality shows, none of them showcase the bickering, fighting, and horrible portrayals of black women like those found on VH1 and Bravo.