Not even casting Common as the mayor or strategically placed cameos by Eve and C-listers like Kim Porter , (Diddy’s baby mamma) could save the new VH1 series, Single Ladies, starring Stacey Dash, LisaRaye McCoy, Charity Shea and Lauren London (all actresses I like). I had high hopes for a much needed black dramatic series, one that would intelligently explore the ins and outs of black love while offering a more modern and realistic replication of black women (sans a token white character who I have no idea of how she fits in with the other leads being clearly twenty years younger). But unfortunately with a sub-par script and mediocre acting (by apparently anyone who answered the casting call) Single Ladies missed the mark. It left me not only longing to be entertained and wondering where they dug up Cam’ron, but feeling somewhat insulted. Apparently I wasn’t alone.
Twitter quickly tore this Queen Latifah produced “series” to shreds. One tweeter commented, “Did this show just imply that the only good black man available anywhere is snagged by a white woman?” I noticed that as well as Shea’s character, (the white girl) was the only one in a solid relationship with a black man (who she was cheating on!) Another tweeter @MyPolarO commented, “This writing is so corny!!!!! If my life was like this, I'd jump off the Olympic commemorative torch thingy in Centennial Park!” Damn, Viacom….
Here’s the thing, first of all if Single Ladies is supposed to be the chocolate covered version of Sex and the City, it’s EIGHT years too late. Because clearly there is some kind of emulation of that show with the women being presented as “vapid bed hoppers”, (again as per tweeter @MyPolarO)! Second of all consistently depicting single (black) women as being desperate, foolish, THIEVING and at times bitter, is also fare that maybe worked eight years ago. I would have liked to see an evolution of the female identity that includes being rooted in her strength and worth independent of a man’s presence or approval, and not in a way that suggests she’s cynical. And I would also like to see a show where the only white woman in the cast doesn’t have TWO black men drooling over her while the other brown beauties get nooch! (Yeah I said it!)
There are too many better writers out there (ahem!) who could have crafted a better representation of what it’s like to be a single black woman. How about starting with the creation of an actual character as opposed to a caricature? Single Ladies is full of clichéd obligatory stereotypes. Dash is the “good girl” who was hopelessly in love with a loser. McCoy (Keisha) is a “promiscuous b*tch” with high priced taste. And Shea, well Shea is the mandatory white girl (April) that seems to crop up in every other black project these days. (I have no issue with a multiracial cast, but if it’s a black show, let the leads be black. Is that so wrong? ) The black male characters also get a good dose of stereotyping as most are illustrated as domineering, cheating, arrogant jackasses. Thanks Viacom…
Yes there are pathetic black women and there are horrible black men, but there are also intelligent, self actualized, HAPPY single black women and endearing, sensitive and generous black men. And stories featuring a balance of those images can be just as entertaining.
Single Ladies is horrid. It’s the new scripted train wreck that I may keep watching because it’s like a really bad meal that you keep chewing through thinking/hoping it will get better, but never does; no matter how much Lawry’s you sprinkle…
I hope Single Ladies improves, though I doubt it will. And this is very disappointing because this could potentially be another example that TV executives will point to in order to say black shows don’t work. Correction: Bad black shows don’t work. But one thing is for sure about Single Ladies; I won’t take the series seriously until it does.
Did you see Single Ladies? What did you think?
photo courtesy VH1