Basketball Wives:<br />
Boycott or Balance?

When I tune into Basketball Wives, I know exactly what I’m getting, which is why I don’t bother feigning shock that people paid to behave ridiculously on camera do so diligently week after week. It’s why I also refuse to completely join the guilt fest currently spreading across the Web.

The show’s biggest personality, Evelyn Lozada, has become the subject of a new online petition rallying against her alleged bullying ways. And after watching Evelyn’s ex-BFF, Jennifer Williams, get smacked in the face on camera by her former friend on a recent episode of Basketball Wives, Star Jones is seeking to bring about a caucus in order to boycott and “tell the truth about the image of women of color in the media.” She also declared, "[L]ittle Black girls deserve more than what we're giving!"

Even some of the stars of Basketball Wives are speaking out about the direction the show has taken. Shaunie O’Neal, who executive produces and co-stars in the series, acknowledges that some of the behavior on the show – largely from her friends Evelyn and Tami Roman – can conceivably be perceived as bullying, though she attributes that mainly due to their “strong personalities.”

Roman, on the other hand, has cited “editing” as the culprit and claimed, “I would love to see a season 5 where VH1 and Shed Media are called out to show more positive things that we’re doing and show us how we are 90 percent of the time, instead of how we are 10 percent of the time.” 

Oh.

Behavior exhibited on a reality show isn’t all that different from everyday life really. You can be well-behaved 90 percent of the time, but the minute you decide to cut up you run the risk of soiling your reputation among those around you. Every action has a consequence.

I will agree to one aspect of Tami’s argument, though: “I still don’t believe that warrants this big all-out movement against women who are really just showing our lives.” It doesn’t and the sanctimonious tone to some of these tirades might be well intentioned, but probably won’t do much in the way of advancing any of the aforementioned goals.

Evelyn Lozada has been throwing objects at people and featured swinging in the air courtesy of security since the shows inception. It’s one thing to say it’s gotten old; another to pretend it’s a sudden shift in behavior. Meanwhile, tonally Star’s tirade comes across as finger wagging – and all that does is invite a tit-for-tat. Enter Star’s very public beef with NeNe Leakes, which isn’t that different from the sort of slap-less shade thrown on the show she’s speaking out against.

Is cattiness allowed so long as no one gets hit? If so, I suppose that’s a fair rule, though I do recall Star Jones once hosting a Bad Girls Club reunion special. For those of you who have never seen the Bad Girls Club, those ladies make the women of Basketball Wives look like Edna Garretts’ girls. And according to Star, “You’re either part of the problem or part of the solution.”

Or perhaps the problem is that the solution isn’t so absolute. Shows like Basketball Wives have the right to exist, only it’d be great if there were other shows to counter them. Oh wait, there are! In the same programming block at that.

After the Brouhaha Non-Wives go off, an actual NBA bride’s show comes on (La La’s Full Court Life) and offers something totally antithetical to their form of entertainment. After that show comes the strictly business themed The June Ambrose Project, where stylist June Ambrose throws couture, not sucker punches.

Want to really teach some of the more juvenile women of Basketball Wives a lesson? Give the more mature reality programming a ratings boost. I already do my part, and trust me, you have more options than you realize.

I actually agree that last week’s slap was unnecessary, but so is much of this posturing. Star, you’re no saint. Tami, you’re not a victim. Audience, you knew exactly what you were getting from the shows inception.

Michael Arceneaux is a Houston-bred, Howard-educated writer currently based in Los Angeles. You can read more of his work on his site, The Cynical Ones. Follow him on Twitter: @youngsinick