I didn’t have to wait until the end of the series premiere of Real Husbands of Hollywood to channel the late Whitney Houston and declare, “Oh, my Lord, how have I waited for this day.” Based on the segments at the 2011 BET Awards that generated enough acclaim to warrant a full series order, all comedian Kevin Hart had to do was offer something even half as funny as those and it’d still manage to be the best Black comedy to hit television in much too long.
In a November 2012 interview, the stand-up comedian and actor declared to BET.com: “I can honestly go on record saying this show will be what Chappelle's Show was for Comedy Central. Comedy Central was a great network but Chappelle's Show took it to a completely different level. Other shows got bigger because so many viewers were watching the Chappelle reruns. For BET, the Real Husbands of Hollywood has that same potential.”
Some took that comparison out of context, but Hart had it right. Real Husbands of Hollywood more than delivers on the promise of those segments and he can now take claim for providing BET with its first original comedy that’s laugh out loud funny with the potential to be a breakout success.
That’s not a slight to BET’s current biggest ratings-earner, The Game. Yet, The Game isn’t a homegrown show and frankly it’s not the same comedy it was on the WB. The show now is essentially The Young and the Restless Athlete with comedy sprinkles and laugh track boosts. Fine, but the network needed a comedy that’s in fact funny as much as audiences deserved one.
Here we are, finally.
A clear nod to The Real Housewives of Atlanta, Real Husbands is a semi-scripted satirical look at the popular reality TV franchise on Bravo along with the similarly-themed shows on VH1, TLC, and elsewhere. Considering the inconvenient truth – Black reality shows have been offering way more laughs than their scripted counterparts – it’s a smart move to parody what’s already been proven to get chuckles.
Joining Kevin Hart on the cast of Real Husbands of Hollywood are Robin Thicke, J.B. Smoove, Boris Kodjoe, Duane Martin, and Nick Cannon. Cannon’s ability to make fun of himself continues to be his best asset. Boris Kodjoe was good enough – yes, that’s a compliment. J.B. Smooth was J.B. Smoove, which is perfect for this show’s format. Guest “husband” Nelly meshed well with the cast despite his lack of acting experience, though the biggest surprise was just how funny Robin Thicke is. Perhaps that shouldn’t be too surprising given he is the son of comedian and patriarch of the ABC 1980s comedy Growing Pains, Alan Thicke. Either way, it’s great to know that Robin’s laugh factor can’t be reduced to the days he used to ride around a bike in New York City looking like Jesus Christ Superstar.
The supporting cast performs its duties well, but this is ultimately Kevin Hart’s show and as much as it was about time for a new Black comedy to be a big hit with audiences, it was also time for him to have his own vehicle.
In a piece entitled “He’s the Most Successful Stand-Up Comic in America,” Slate asked “So why isn’t Kevin Hart more famous?” Of course, they meant famous to the melanin-challenged. Like Hart in that BET interview, Slate pointed to the void left by Dave Chappelle, wondering why hasn’t the mainstream media looked to Hart to christen him as “the next great Black superstar of stand-up.”
I’m not so much concerned with mainstream outlets ignoring us in spite of our great successes anymore so much as I am hopeful that as they have with Kevin Hart and Real Husbands of Hollywood, BET learns to take better advantage of oft-ignored talent. Granted, Hart is clearly moving on up the Hollywood food chain, but if networks like NBC aren’t giving him his own show, BET was wise to do it.
The same can be said of other talents, so here’s hoping Real Husbands of Hollywood is as successful as it is hysterical— and please let it bring forth more because when it comes to Black comedy found on television, we can do better than relying mostly on reality TV clowns and Martin reruns. This show reminds us of that.