Blacks on Reality TV: Where’s The Diversity?


Black Reality TVBy Kailei Richardson

When I read on Target Market News that it wasn’t CNN’s “Black in America 2” that took the #1 spot of black households last week but rather it was BET’s “Tiny & Toya,” I was more than heated! Maybe it was my disconcertion with BET and/or the lack of diverse images of Black Americans on television; or maybe it’s the unfortunate reality that though the most powerful couple in the United States is educated and Black, the media continues to perpetuate the stereotypes.

So why is it that shows like Tiny & Toya, Flava of Love, and The Real Housewives of Atlanta receive higher ratings than CNN’s “Black in America 2,” TV One’s “Unsung,” or former sitcom “Girlfriends”? Is it that less stereotypical images of blacks are not considered compelling TV? Or is it that the demand for more positive images is just not there? Perhaps Centric’s upcoming Keeping Up With the Jonses and some of OWN‘s programming will generate more ratings than its predecessors, but only time will tell. In the meantime, tell us what you think!

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Blacks on Reality TV: Where’s The Diversity?

  1. anonymous

    I get so frustrated with BET. I boycotted them until they came out with “Harlem Heights”. When I saw that it was not the depiction of “upwardly mobile young black professionals,” I boycotted again until the BET Awards, thinking BET would do a nice tribute to MJ. Not only was I underwhelmed by that, but when they showed Tiny & Toya and Frankie & Effie as their new shows, I was through! It’s like someone at BET wanted people to laugh at them so they gave them shows. It’s sad.

  2. Something has got to change. We need to get mainstream black entertainment content back on track. The Vyne TV is a great place to start! 🙂

    Just to add to the discourse about the danger of some of the messages out there, I recently watched the devastating documentary “Very Young Girls” which gave a harrowing look of the sexual exploitation of teenage girls that is going on right under our noses. Much of the footage was home video shot by two pimps in hopes to pitch a reality show about their life recruiting and selling underage girls on the streets. Though I seriously doubt that such a preposterous idea would ever make it to the air, the very thought that this notion seemed realistic is a serious wake-up call to me.

  3. Lorri D.

    I wouldn’t say that shows like Tiny & Toya are a bad depiction of African-American families but I would say that the general public is drawn more to entertainment and sensationalism.

    In my own opinion, rather than placing the “blame” on television networks I would find more ways to market and entice television audiences to watch a more diverse line up of African-American TV and Reality shows.

    Perhaps we can continue to encourage networks to pay more attention to their own line ups before we knock certain television programs b/c of our own personal taste. We wouldn’t want to shoot ourselves in the foot on this one.

    And by the way, I TiVo everything from Tiny & Toya, Real Housewives of Atlanta and New Jersey, One on One with Kathy Hughes, G. Garvin and Ole school Cosby Show episodes as well as ALL of the Presidential and V.P. Debates from last Fall.

    So for now, let’s take the variety issue into our own hands 🙂

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