I recall the days when The Learning Channel actually had shows that were about, well, learning something. Founded in 1972 by the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare and — gasp! — NASA it was billed as “an informative and instructional network focused on providing real education through the medium of TV.” Fast forward to now, where it’s the home of popular shows with great redeeming value such as Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, Best Funeral Ever, and Starter Wives Confidential which debuted last night.
In summary, Starter Wives Confidential is TLC’s version of Basketball Wives, starring DMX’s soon-to-be ex Tashera Simmons (the only recognizable name), Funkmaster Flex’s estranged wife, and the ex-girlfriends of rapper Maino, boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr., NBA baller Lamar Odom, and rapper 50 Cent. It’s less basketball, more fighting, and about the same number of actual wives and scenes with women sitting around drinking. If you like to see Black women act up, tune in. If you don’t, start a petition now.
Given most of the participants, I had an idea of what to expect, but I tuned in anyway to give it a shot. I figured it is The Learning Channel, so maybe I should learn something, right?
Here are my Top 5 Takeaways (in no particular order):
1. Talking greasy about your ex says as much about him as it does you
Starter Wives Confidential is all about women spilling the tea on how they were done dirty by their exes. I don’t doubt the women were done wrong in their relationships, but they stayed. And putting up with a bunch of mess – and telling everyone about it— says as much about the guys they complain about it as it does about the women complaining. Most notably it says: “I haven’t moved on, because if I did, I wouldn’t still be talking about and defining myself as so-and-sos ex.”
2. As a woman, you need to make a name for yourself
It’s always bothered me that so many stars of reality TV have their name flash on the screen, and underneath in smaller print is “ex-wife” or “ex-girlfriend” of a name viewers would actually recognize. I don’t wish to imply that there is anything wrong supporting your man or holding down the homefront, but if a reality show co-star is expecting me to care, it would be nice if there was a credential to her name of what she currently is, even if it’s Homemaker or Work-In-Progress, rather than what she was, often a long, long time ago.
3. Delusion is a helluva drug
I’d call Floyd Mayweather’s ex by her name, but you wouldn’t know who I was talking about any. Anyway, when his ex introduces herself to the audience, she talks about her desire to reunite with ol’ Floyd and even says in complete seriousness, “I think Floyd is going to come running back to me.” Uh, ma’am. He broke into your home and beat the crap out of you in front of your children. Why would you want him back? Additionally, he is engaged.
4. Drama is also a helluva drug
Surprise — there’s a big confrontation at the end of Starter Wives Confidential, and I can’t tell you what it was over because I don’t think the women who jumped in each other’s faces even really know. But there was cursing and screaming and a woman, still yelling epithets and threats, marched out.
It made me think of an observation I had while watching Real Housewives of Atlanta. On Sunday, I tweeted that my favorite part of RHOA these days is the focus on the women’s business ventures. I wished that there would be a show about that. That simple tweet led to a Twitter debate about whether a reality TV show about Black women could be successful sans all the “extra” drama. I argued it could. I don’t expect a conflict-free show, but there’s inherent drama in everyone’s life. “I want X, Y is blocking my way, how do I figure it out?” is a form of drama and keeps a story moving, and it can be accomplished by acting like a well-behaved adult. The man I was having a healthy argument with said that the only drama worth tuning into was the fighting-bickering-throwing ish kind. With so much drag-down drama on TV, it would be impossible for a show that didn’t have it to succeed. It made me wonder if viewers are as addicted to drama as the women actually causing drama.
5. You can’t be a great dad and treat the mother of your kids like crap
Throughout Starter Wives Confidential, several women threw the father of their children under the bus, then followed up with a comment like, “but he’s a great dad.” One of the women making that observation was Maino’s ex … after she just relayed how he made a love song about another woman while they were dating, and also made a song about her, imagining all the ways he’d like to see her die. I’m sorry, what? Floyd’s ex — who again, was beaten by him in front of their children — made the same claim. Is this what we’re calling a “good father” these days?
Demetria L. Lucas is the author of “A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life” (Atria) in stores now. Follow her on Twitter @abelleinbk