The famous exes who made up the cast of Starter Wives Confidential intended to show audiences they were more than their former relationships, women working to forge “a path in life that will give themselves and their children the security and success they know they deserve” (as described in a TLC press release).
Those interested in watching how that journey unfolds still can… only they’ll have to see it on TLC’s website, after the network abruptly cancelled the series a month following its premiere episode. Some attributed the network’s actions to 50 Cent, who panned the show, tweeting from @50cent: “The show was trash, angry ex girls that have a sense of entitlement that can’t be met. Come on, I didn’t like it so it’s off.”
Gossip blogs immediately believed 50’s remarks—as did some of the show’s stars. Starter Wives Confidential’s Monica Joseph-Taylor (ex-wife of prominent DJ Funkmaster Flex) wrote on her blog, “Is it ratings? Is it a change in network direction… or all the outside drama?!” Likewise, Tashera Simmons (embattled rapper DMX’s ex-wife) took it one step further in her own statement: “It’s disheartening that the show was canceled after two episodes due to many inflated egos.”
“Unfortunately, due to the low ratings, the remaining episodes will not air on TLC, but will be viewable on TLC.com,” read a private letter to the cast, obtained by TMZ. “The decision by TLC isn’t personal, although I know it is to you all, and for that we are very sorry. You ladies gave your all to the show and everyone at TLC is very disappointed that the viewers didn’t take this ride with us.”
To settle conflicting accounts of the show’s ending, EBONY.com reached out to a Starter Wives Confidential producer who agreed to speak on condition of anonymity.
“Discovery wasn’t scared to continue airing because of 50, Floyd Mayweather, Funkmaster Flex, Lamar Odom, DMX or Phil Caruso,” said the producer, referencing the well-known exes of the Starter Wives stars. The source corroborated TLC’s private letter, noting that “time is money and [TLC parent company] Discovery knows when to hold ’em and fold ’em.”
A gossipier angle may make for a more tantalizing narrative, but the producer points out the cancelation as merely the television industry at work.
“Shows are produced to entertain audiences, but there is money attached to those time blocks, there are ad dollars attached to prime time, there are metrics involved. It may not feel fair to producers or cast, but they did give it a chance. The show being online isn’t the worst thing in the world,” said the producer.
Despite some online chatter to the contrary, it was no secret that 50 Cent kept Shaniqua Tompkins, the mother of his son, off Starter Wives Confidential. The show addressed the matter head on in its premiere episode, with Tompkins herself explaining that she couldn’t move forward with the show due to a cease-and-desist order 50 had issued to TLC.
“TLC took his claim seriously,” the producer admits. “The show was unproven, and [Shaniqua] was unproven as a viable on-screen personality. Every business has their metrics, and when they looked at it, they decided to release her from the cast. The 50 cease and desist was indicative of the disdain he has for her, but also his fear of what she could expose.”
The visceral reaction generated from the exes of two of the show’s stars in particular—50 Cent and Funkmaster Flex—did not go unnoticed. “Here you have these two famous and affluent men on Twitter [and] on the radio gloating about the show being taken off the air. They were afraid. Very afraid,” the producer added.
Why? The source notes, “There are a slew of producers and support staff that know a lot of their secrets. And there are secrets that couldn’t air, but it was shot, and quite frankly it is eye-popping. So they exhaled when it was pulled off the air. It was Christmas Day for them!”
Calling it “frustrating,” the producer added that while Starter Wives Confidential “knew exes were not going to be happy,” women with similar struggles were touched by what they’d seen thus far.
“Women who wanted to be on the show for another season, who just wanted us to know they ‘get it,’ that they are there or been there—women of all races and socio-economic backgrounds, were building a movement that was clipped before it even got started. Again, they are silenced and the men are gloating,” the producer explained.
Obviously the exes’ cathartic absolution likely won’t happen now, which deals another blow to women who, the producer says, have also “endured physical abuse, mental abuse, deception and infidelity. It’s a tough one for all involved to digest. The candles were blown out before the ‘Happy Birthday’ song was belted out.”
You can catch the remaining episodes of Starter Wives Confidential on TLC's website.