Jul 5, 2011

Shaunie O'Neal, the former wife of Shaquille O'Neal and executive producer of VH1's reality television show, Basketball Wives, took to CNN.com to discuss the negative portrayal of black women when it comes to reality TV shows. It's as though she's never even watched her own show. Now don't get me wrong, I admire Shaunie for her hustle and drive but let's not pretend that the same thing she's complaining about is not the exact same thing she is doing with her own show. She is profiting off of making minority women look like asses, but yet then she wants to turn around and complain about how said portrayals are affecting the image of black women. Girl, I got to hit you with a ChildPlease.com for that foolishness. In the words of a famous songwriter, "You can't straddle the fence..."

Read what she had to say below:

Via 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.

When I signed on to executive produce the show I had big plans and a long list of ideas. But boy did all that change as we started filming and I learned what all goes into executive producing a show. It's a lot of work, and there are a lot of politics involved, but at the end of the day I do believe that the overall message is being told.

Look at Tami Roman (ex-wife of former NBA player Kenny Anderson and a member of the "Basketball Wives" cast). She was such an appealing addition to the cast because of her rags to riches to rags story of being married to a pro basketball player and after their divorce almost being homeless.

That's the heart of "Basketball Wives," and I believe that if you look closely and beyond the arguing and the fighting, you'll see a group of women trying to get their lives back on track and figure out who they really are.

My role as executive producer of the show does not negate my concern for how black women are portrayed on reality TV, but I do believe that there are some shows attempting to strike a balance and have a positive message despite the drama. I'm personally working with Shed Media and VH1 to make sure that "Basketball Wives" stands among them.


  1. WOW!!! I am almost speechless. Monica, Toni Braxton, Lisa Raye and Chili are not women with high profile exes. They are women who had their own careers and talents long before these so called high profile men ever entered the picture. Chili and TLC had Grammys while Usher was still being potty trained. Yes, Michael Misick was the Prime Minister of a country but no one knew his name before he married Lisa Raye. Toni Braxton carried her ex-husband after he left Mint Condition (not that he was famous even when he was with the group) and Monica's ex had one extremely stupid song where he highlighted the flaws in GA's educational system since Umma is not a word.

    She's really delusional if she thinks that Basketball Wives sends a positive message about minority women. In fact that they should rename it Gold Digging 301: What Not To Do

  2. Shaunie knows bickering and fighting is what sells a reality show. If that element was not there, no one would be watching; I included. I think we as black women need to stop relying on Television Shows to define or not define who we are. We are the strongest, the brightest and the best females in the world, but we are forever worrying about how others will look at us. In the words of Tommy Lee Jones "I don't care" what mass media think of me, I know who I am, and I like watching Basketball Wives, I think it is entertaining and that's how I look at it, "for entertainment purposes only"! Shaunie girl, keep making that money, because if you weren't doing it somebody else would be, and we would still be watching.