Charity Shea, Stacey Dash, & LisaRaye McCoyDid you catch the Single Ladies premiere last night. It was our first look at the new VH1 series produced by Queen Latifah. The NYT is calling the show "Sex and the City (Atlanta), With Racial Politics" because it follows three girlfriends Val (Stacey Dash), Keisha (LisaRaye McCoy), and April (Charity Shea) on high-fashion jaunts that explore sexual and racial politics of dating, relationships, and sisterhood.
So far many of the reviews have been pretty harsh, basically chalking the show up as more mindless drivel for women. But should we really listen to that kind of too-soon criticism, especially when it mostly comes from men, or give the show a chance?
Not surprisingly male reviewers seem to have the harshest early criticism for Single Ladies.
Hank Stuever at the Washington Post:
This is a series for people who found Sex and the City too quick-witted and The Wendy Williams Show too intellectually stimulating ... Even if Single Ladies can be enjoyed in some basic brainless way (and even though it’s safely sequestered on VH1, where standards are aggressively low), there’s something steadfastly embarrassing about it.
The women seem to be operating from a false sense of empowerment, a soulfulness that unfortunately reads as soullessness.
Brian Lowry at Variety:
...it's not a particularly inspired serial, replete with tired situations, stiff dialogue and male characters possessing less dimension than those populating Sex and the City, if that's possible.
Female reviewers don't seem to be overly gushing about the premiere; however, they sure seem more willing to seek out its strong points and give it a chance.
Ginia Bellafante at the NYT:
And so begin the one-night stands, screaming matches, freedom affirmations, back-seat seductions and enraged exits of this largely absurdist but not entirely useless almost-postracial soap.
Sonya Eskridge at S2S Magazine:
After all the arguing, gossiping and general thirstiness to get in good with the mean girls (we're looking at you, Meeka Claxton) of Basketball Wives, Single Ladies was a nice change of pace.
Over on Twitter, many of the young guys are digging deep for their criticism, calling the sexually evolved Single Ladies characters "hoes," "sluts," and "bitches" (wow, we've never heard that before, fellas ... ) while many young women are celebrating the show's existence in a TV world that doesn't have have large stake in depicting women, especially women of color, who are in charge of their own lives.
Some hated on it:
Greeneyedpeachh: Children brag... Call me when you wanna see what women do!
And at least one Twitterer called out the big, ugly truth.
colbycolb: Too much Twitter hate for Single Ladies. It's the first show jeez, let it develop. Do you know how hard it is to have AA shows on TV?
Wow, ain't that the truth? Can't we just be grateful that Queen Latifah got this show in action at all. Sure, it's probably not smart enough and surely not perfect, but that's how shows -- undoubtedly with minimal backing, resources, and buy-in -- always start off, but then the producers and the writers learn and get feedback and sometimes they even get better -- if viewers continue to watch and adore it while simultaneously demanding it get better. The Sex and the City pilot was horrific. Remember? The first Oprah show wasn't epic either.
Single Ladies gives women of color a platform to tell their stories. Let's not take that away before there's been time to show the world just how important that is.
Did you catch Single Ladies? What did you think? Will you watch?
Image via VH1