In a open letter written for CNN, Shaunie Oneal speaks on the negative portrayals of black women on reality TV.
Writes Shaunie for CNN:
I’ll be honest, I love reality TV.
Actually it’s one of my guilty pleasure past times. Even before “Basketball Wives” I had my favorites, and I watched them faithfully. There is something appealing about seeing people deal with real life drama as you’re watching. Now, as executive producer of “Basketball Wives,” I know that’s not exactly how it happens, but it’s still fun to watch.
What isn’t so fun to watch, however, is this new generation of reality TV. It seems to be more about the drama and less about the storyline. That concerns me, especially now that I’m producing a reality show.
I have gotten both good and bad responses from viewers about “Basketball Wives,” and I certainly understand the opinion that the shows portrayal of black women is beginning to look somewhat negative.
As you see on the show, I’m not a big supporter of the bickering, drink throwing and fighting, but when you put a group of strong, independent and vocal women who are going through or just came out of a bad relationship together, there’s bound to be a little drama.
Let’s face it, we all know women like the ones on “Basketball Wives” and countless other reality shows: Women who are vocal if you cross them.
The problem for me is when black women are portrayed as only being that way and labeled different than their non-black counterparts for the same type of behavior. That’s when it becomes negative and damaging to our image.
I’m not saying we have to create shows that only paint a pretty picture about who we are, but there should be a balance and most of all some integrity to the shows we create.
I do believe some of the shows featuring African-American women have positive story lines and are not meant to tear black women down. Shows like [BET's] “Tiny & Toya” and “Monica: Still Standing,” [TVOne's] “LisaRaye: The Real McCoy,” [VH1's] “What Chili Wants” and [WE tv's] “The Braxtons.”
They all have the same core storyline — single, exes of high profile men, trying to raise their children and get their lives back on track. I believe that is positive and when handled properly can be very uplifting and empowering for women going through the same issues, no matter their race.
That’s why I wanted to do “Basketball Wives.” I wanted to show what life is really like when you are with a professional athlete — and that sometimes all that glitters isn’t gold.