Hello, my name is Deya, and let me be direct: I am addicted to watching the train wreck that is reality TV. I admit this with both shame and slight glee.
First of all, I am a fine arts major who graduated from Howard University with a degree in theatre arts, of all things. By definition, I support the theatre, and the skill set and art form that comes from real actors, real production and real talent. Not only did I spend four years studying my craft; I took the leap to Hollywood and pursued my career in TV and film for seven years there. Needless to say, I have invested a significant part of my life in the traditional entertainment industry and continue to do so. I love it.
Having said that, I admit that on nights when “The Real Housewives” or “Basketball Wives” franchise respectively come on, I get heart palpations as I prepare my food and adult beverage in anticipation of the drama and foolery that will take place. My very educated friends and I then usually start our show recap conversations with “Girl, did you see that?”
Admittedly, I wrestle with why I like these shows so much. Could it be the weekly catfights, the fashion choices, the interaction between black women on parenting, love, struggles with divorce or girlfriends/associates/coworkers working through how to get along? It may be a little of all of the above, but I respect the hustle too. Love them or hate them, we are talking about these woman in our homes, on the phone, at work and yes, even on the radio. These woman are on TV making a living and branding themselves as personalities.
Now, to address the issue of poor images on TV that shape the worlds opinion about black women: I am not convinced that they are the prevailing image-shapers. I would argue that Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Mary J. Blige, Angela Bassett, Tyra Banks, Mo’nique, Wendy Williams, Whoopi Goldberg, Sherri Shepherd and even the TJMS’ own Sybil Wilkes are far more significant as image makers. Of course, they are not the only ones, and not all images are positive. To be direct, every black woman in your family is not a Ph.D, and I’m sure not everyone is a hoodrat. Some are, though, and we are everything in between as well. That’s reality.
I enjoy seeing all kinds of women and black women on television, ones who would have never had this kind of opportunity were it not for reality TV. They make me laugh and shake my head in disbelief as they make interesting choices and missteps in their lives. I feel like I know some of these women. Some of these scenarios are heightened, but what woman can’t relate to trying to fit in with other women? Who can’t relate to laugh-out-loud moments together or dealing with cliques and fakery? It’s drama, albeit produced drama.
Judge me if you want. I judge myself, and I accept, that it’s my guilty pleasure. And even though one male friend thinks that these shows influence women to mimic the behavior of some of these women, I argue that I’m grown, intelligent, and I make my own choices. I will confess to getting shoe ideas from them, though.
Sure, I may be addicted. My name is Deya Direct, and I love my reality shows.
Deya “Direct” Smith is a producer on “The Tom Joyner Morning Show” and host of “Girlfriend FM,” as well as “Beyond the Studio” celebrity interviews on BlackAmericaWeb.com. She is also a motivational speaker, actress and social commentator. She can be reached at DeyaDirect@aol.com.