From Ratchet to Richess The Reality of Black Women on Reality TV

Lifetime recently announced that it was cancelling its newest reality show, BAPs. BAPs stood for Black American Princesses and Princes and followed a crew of female and male friends who were allegedly affluent and part of the Black bourgeoisie of St. Louis. It seemed that many of them had grown up together, had belonged to members’ only type organizations as children, had attended college, and were now working good jobs and all that middle class jazz. They were, as it was noted time and time again, respectable citizens who while not too good for a reality show were too good for engage in certain behaviors and mannerisms that typically went hand in hand with being on a reality show.

I was probably one of the only five people who watched BAPs. I wouldn’t call myself bourgie, but having grown up around some of Washington, DC’s elite, I am bourgie adjacent. Since I knew what bourgie typically looked like, how it typically sounded, where it summered, I wanted to see what this show was all about. How did the St. Louis bourgie live? What exactly made them BAPs? And more importantly, who was actually calling themselves a BAP these days? Like with a straight face.

Admittedly, BAPs was pretty horrible. Reality shows need excess drama to thrive. Even the fabricated drama has to be juicy, over the top, and maybe accompanied with a threat of violence. BAPs tried to bring the drama and failed miserably. One of the major reasons that the drama couldn’t reach full force was because of a constant refrain, recited when someone was about to go from bourgie to next level foolery, that BAPs weren’t supposed to act this or that way. I’m assuming that way was, for lack of a better, overused word: ratchet.

Yes, BAPs was filled with screaming matches at shrieked tones, but there were no actual drag down, hair pulling, bottles or glass throwing fights. No one got down in the gutter with it. No one spewed cuss words with ease and effort. But above all that, it was as if these women didn’t really have it in them to truly get ratchet because they weren’t supposed to do that.

And who wants to watch ‘imitation’ ratchet? Understudy ratchet?

It would appear that the people want to see the classically trained ratchet instead. If ratings are any indication, folks want to see the women who have turned ratchet into a high art form and a wonderful performance worth the audience’s time and gossip. Women who can be easily looked down upon because of their difficult to understand accents and poor English, their lack of upbringing, their sex tapes, their multiple baby daddies, and so on, and so on.

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  • LeLeJ

    Worst.show.ever. It was such a poor reflection of African American women.

  • lil

    let up get #ignoremonascottyoung trending and actually follow thru. she is not representing herself, african americans, haitian americans or anyone well.

    dont support her or her shows.

  • Just a H.A. M.

  • DreaMLC

    I saw nothing upperclass about those people on that show. No, they did not get into physical altercations, but there was always unnecessary drama, and trashy behavior just like any other reality show peddling harmful stereotypes of Black Women. I find shows that give the false appearance of upper class Black Americans to be worse than your L&HH type shows. At least with L&HH there’s no pretense, unlike shows like BAPS and Married to Medicine. They send the message that no matter how educated or wealthy black women are they are still loud, aggressive, and low class at the core. Which of course is simply not true. With BAPS…..mission accomplished, that’s exactly the message they are sending to those who don’t know better. So, I say good riddance.