Long Live Girlfriends. Down with “Girlfriend Intervention,” Though.
Lord Jesus help us all. This week I watched promos for Lifetime’s new show, “Girlfriend Intervention,” and I hate everything about it.
First, let me say, I have no problem with the term “girlfriend.” It’s only mildly annoying when someone directs the term towards me, when I know damn well that they never use the word: “OK, GIRLFRIEND!!!” I avoid eye-rolling, mostly because I don’t care, and also because I prefer not to add another stereotypical black female facial expression to the mix. (I prefer to educate complete with head rolling and finger waving . . . I kid, I kid.)
As you know, CGH is all about “girlfriendly wisdom,” so I’m all about the girlfriend high-five – I love when we help each other out. The difference between what we do in real life and the nonsense on television is that the black girlfriend has become a character – a stereotype that does nothing to reflect the diversity in our actual PERSONALITIES. Like we’re all constantly wisecracking and throwing shade somewhere. It’s ridiculous.
Remember “Girlfriends,” the TV show? Actually, first: do you remember the UPN network? If yes, than congrats: you are old. And if you don’t also know who Austin Malone is, it’s confirmed.
“Girlfriends” defined the special, life-long bond among female friends. Yes, we love Carrie and her crew, but “Girlfriends” had more depth. The show centered around an attorney named Joan, and chronicled her relationships, career, and friendships with three tough, talented, and brilliant ladyfriends. And yes, these multi-dimensional women self-identified as black women. The fact that they were black women was, admittedly, important to me. I related to the “curviness” of the relationships. The ups and the downs, the good and the bad.
You see, the show was about sisterhood, navigating life’s curveballs with friends. There were heart-wrenching breakups, huge career milestones, financial disasters; it was real-life, and relatable. Not only was there a truly dynamic arc to each character, but the show brilliantly moved between moments of pure comedy to those that made me bawl like a baby.
Since the show ended in 2008, the “girlfriend” has disappeared from TV. You may think she exists, but she doesn’t. The new “girlfriend” isn’t multidimensional, she has no backstory. Today, she throws punches, purchases Christian Louboutins, has a shitty clothing line, and spawns neverending catch phrases.
I remember Tanisha. Not because I watched the some awful show about bad girls but because I recently saw promos of her cussing out her fiancé on a new reality show.
Imagine my surprise, when a Kardashian-esque madeover Tanisha appeared on promos for Lifetime’s “Girlfriend Intervention.” My jaw dropped, ya’ll.
The premise of the show is this: take some poor white woman and give her a life makeover courtesy of four black women. Because inside every white woman lives a black woman. From what I can tell, the women tell her about her non-fabulousness, then transform her with weaves, makeup, and heels into a . . . ”black woman”?
My thoughts thus far…
#3: Who are these advisors? I need to see resumés. I’ve mentioned the background of one of the participants; perhaps the producers didn’t have access to Google.
#4 White women should be outraged, too.
#5 How is this even that far from putting these women in blackface?!
I’ll stop there. I recognize the limitation in my rant – that it is solely based on preview clips, and not the premier episode, which has already aired. Read this, this and this for opinions both similar and opposing to mine.
What you can do:
#1: Learn to recognize blatant TV-generated stereotypes. Engage in a conversation with your girlfriends, who may themselves represent the subject of the stereotype, about the content. Dialogue is good. Letting ourselves be defined by others is bad.
#2: Start a revolution—one that exists in your mind, in your home or publically. Stay clear of TV channels that consistently produce “hot mess” TV. On a related note: It’s with a heavy heart that I’ve chosen to put “Project Runway” on hiatus. (Well, truth be told, I’m traveling and can’t find the Lifetime channel.)
#3: Write to the show-runners. Leave comments on the TV show’s webpage. Want to do more? Start an online petition! Trust us, someone is always watching. (Remember the cancellation of that one VH1 show about women with nothing in common except for relationships with athletes? Outrage has power.)
#4 Counter shitiness in media by creating something awesome! ‘Nuff said.
In the comments below, tell us what you think about the show. Bonus—have an amazing girlfriend? Tell us about her!! I’m sure we’ll agree!