‘The Sisterhood’: Saintly or Sacrilegious?

by Stacia L. Brown

the sisterhood

When TLC announced its intention to produce a reality show about five Atlanta “first ladies” (aka pastors’ wives), I had my doubts. Would it be a fair, but honest look into the various challenges women who marry into ministry face? Or would it be like “Real Housewives of Megachurch County,” complete with threats of bodily harm, wig-snatching, neck-rolling, and epic shade-throwing confessionals.

Last night’s series premiere hewed closer to the latter. Every reality show needs drama — and this show’s editors are happy to supply it. Several stock personality types are represented: the pot-stirrer, the holier-than-thou condescender, the den mother, the former addict, the defensive one who’s not doing as well financially as the others. Thrown together in improbable settings like lunches and brunches and church visits, we’re sure to see a lot of conflict.

None of the pastors and their wives are particularly well-known personalities outside their congregations and immediate communities. The closest we get to a “celebrity” here is Ivy Couch, formerly of the ’90s girl group Xscape (… according to her). Since it’s clear that all The Sisterhood’s participants only agreed to appear here to grow their brands (read: up their membership or, in the case of the two couples who’ve lost their churches, attract new opportunities), it’s hard to take any of what’s happening seriously. Everything feels like a stunt, from the pastor who drags his teen daughters to the patio to show them how to affix condoms (while telling them about his multiple past STDs) to the two pastors’ wives who get into a shouting match over when it’s appropriate to quote scripture to one another.

Twitter, of course, turned out in force to live-tweet reactions to the premiere. Some were understandably concerned that the show was “just another way to mock Christianity and the Black church.” Others found it typically problematic but still entertaining.

It’s hard to render a realistic depiction of any subculture that will satisfy its most devout members. But TLC clearly isn’t trying with The Sisterhood — and that should’ve been expected. Anyone who plans to watch shouldn’t hope to find out much about real problems minsters’ wives actually face. Viewers should expect a lot of gossip and shade, a lot of yelling, one weird, super-fit “Black Barbie” first lady chasing another first lady down a sidewalk, couples arguing, some hospital room sobbing, and some inappropriate conversation for shock value.

Someday, it might be nice to see a reality show that lifts the veil of secrecy that seems to shroud the black pastorate. It might be even nicer if some real, recognizable megachurch pastors agreed to let parts of their lives or ministries that were previously hidden be exposed. But TLC wouldn’t be the network, and The Sisterhood definitely isn’t that show. Is The Sisterhood a great representation of “the saints” (aka the black church community)? No. Is its very existence an act of sacrilege? No. It’s just kind of corny and needlessly sensational.

Did you watch the first episode of The Sisterhood? What did you think?

  • Smilez_920

    1) Scripted or not I actually liked the scenes where the pastor spoke to his daughters about safe sex. More parents ( especially in the church) should take that approach.

    2) when you hear Atlanta and church in the same sentence , most think of the Mega Church scene.

    3) people are human , church or not if your someone who likes to brig the drama you will do so. They picked ” First Ladies ” who held that quality in them.

    4) totally T-Boz came on last night , I heard it was good, it comes on right before this show.

    5) my thing is while the show focuses on the women ” First Ladies” we can’t lay all o the reasponsiblity on them for giving the church a certain image . They wouldn’t be First Ladies without their pastor ” husbands”. Those husbands signed up for what some would call foolishness as well.

  • AM

    No. Haven’t watched it.

    Ya’ll, please watch this spoof. Hilarious!!

  • Lisss

    I find it ironic how so-called reality tv is, as a whole, the furthest thing from reality. Especially this show. SMH

  • mEE

    can’t remember the last time I shook my head and sighed so much in a one hour period. it was just…a LOT.

  • kaya

    Like black people, I don’t find enough positive images of the church to counter-balance that tv show, especially if it’s a hot mess. Its a big risk they are taking in doing something that can ultimately shade them in a bad light.i haven’t seen the show because I don’t have the resources to do so, but I wouldn’t want too anyway. Unless this show is trying to educate with what the positive-ness of what the church is doing I don’t need to see how “human” they are. Its the humanity that people use against religious followers to show how they are hypocrites to their own belief.

  • OMG

    Sigh….. another reality show. When will it end! There are far too many of these “reality shows” on air. I mainly watch TVOne, HGTV, CNN sometimes, and the local news. I may watch 1 or 2 reality shows but my gosh, they are becoming overbearing. Who has time to watch all of them?

  • NotFeelingIt

    Can’t writers “write” a real comedy, drama, mystery, or a combination of one or all of the forementioned. Reality has gone too far and its 15 minute of fame ended 2000+ hours ago!!

  • The Artist

    Let’s not pretend there aren’t people just like this within the church. It’s a hard pill to swallow but I think people are fooling themselves into thinking all First Ladies are holier than thou. Just like it’s foolish to think that these women are representative of “all” First Ladies. Regardless, people are going to be people “saved or not”.

  • Tash

    That about sums it up right there.

  • afroveda

    I like the show from an entertainment point of view, but as a Christian, I doubt it will “win souls for Christ”. Unfortunately, it looks like it will only perpetuate the belief that church-folk and we (Christians) are hypocrites.

  • http://godxconfidence.wordpress.com Brittany Dixon

    Thank you. This show is nothing but a mockery of Christianity. Its shameful to say the least.

  • Lisss

    @The Artist I never said that women like this do not exist at church. However, just like the “wives” franchise and the upcoming “all my baby’s mama’s” show do not even begin to paint an accurate portrait of black women, neither does this show when it comes to what is going in church, black or otherwise. Also, just like those shows, this is another entertainment piece designed to have the people on the outside look and point fingers and whisper to themselves “so thats what they are like.”, sort of like how white people have been doing to blacks through the latest “reality tv” shows on black folks.

  • Fox

    Those women have signed up to clown themselves and their families. Two of the couples don’t even run a church so it’s so obvious why they’re on. I guess they’re going to show the fifth wife next week. Shameful yes, but nobody forced them to sign up for this.

  • RenJennM

    I almost died laughing when that pastor’s wife rebuked that lady!

    And that safe-sex talk was painfully hilarious! It was “TMI” and cringe-worthy, but it was very honest and entertaining. I’m sure that that pastor’s daughters were mortified, but at least they’ll think twice before having unprotected sex, if sex at all.

    The show itself is aight, I guess. I don’t think it’ll be a part of my television lineup, but perhaps I’ll catch the reruns on a lazy Saturday or something. The people on the show just seem a little… um… forced. But it’s not that bad. It is refreshing seeing more interracial couples, and a Christian married couple that’s comfortable with their sex life.

  • SAMURAI36

    @ Lisss:

    You should face up to the fact that you, & perhaps even your particular church, are the exception & not the rule, when it comes to church as a whole, & especially the Bpack church.

    Churches have been rocked with scandal after scandal, since they were first conceived.

  • SAMURAI36

    So you are saying that this show is a mockery of a mockery?

  • http://godxconfidence.wordpress.com Brittany Dixon

    Cute

  • Pingback: 5 Reasons Why You should NOT Be Afraid of TLC’s The Sisterhood | L.E.G.A.C.Y.

  • whatever

    I don’t

  • whatever

    I don’t want to see a petition for everything black on tv. I don’t want to see the black community to use change.org just to be negative. You don’t have to agree to all programming and you don’t have to watch it. Black folks can be simple at times when it comes to dealing with reality. Let the black church do what it’s supposed to do and it not supposed to be condemning all programs that they don’t agree on did they attempt to get the soap operas off No, so end the nonsense now. There was nothing degrading about this show

  • mikah

    I truly believe with all my heart that Tara is a women of God and it shows because she is total outcast by the women on the show. The bible says to bear each others burdens and we need to encourage one another with the word and TARA does that. She has been persecuted by the others who I believe are not as spiritually mature as Tara. I cannot say they are not saved because you should not speak on another persons salvation. The bible said we would be persecuted for righteousness sake. Tara keep on keeping on girl!!!!

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