VH1 Goes Trashy-to-Classy Through Black Folks

By Jorge Rivas Apr 09, 2010

VH1, the network that brought us Flavor of Love and I Love New York — two of the trashiest reality shows in the history of television — is movin’ on up to programming that includes more classy Black folks. Not entirely classy, but way more classy than their most recent shows featuring casts of color. At one point in time VH1 targeted a slightly older demographic than its sister channel MTV and presented more serious programming like Behind the Music, a documentary style show that looked at the successes of musicians and the problems they faced. They even ran an advocacy campaign to keep music programs in schools but somewhere along in the early 2000s VH1 became MTV’s trashy sister. Fast forward to 2006 and we saw Flavor of Love which followed Public Enemy’s Flavor Fav’s search for love. In Flavor of Love, 20 single women with names like Bunz, Grayve and New York would get to compete contest like blindfold scratch-n-sniff tests and win dates to Red Lobster. Once Flavor of Love became one of VH1’s most popular shows they took the concept and ran with it. For several seasons the network would pick the most over the top Black characters from the show and would give them their own spin off show with titles like I Love Money, I Love New York and Real Chance of Love. Apparently viewers are no longer interested in watching "ghetto" characters on reality TV because VH1 is now going classier. VH1’s new show line up for next season includes a "docu-drama series" called Basketball Wives, which follows basketball "wives/exes/fiances." VH1 also created another spin off of Flavor of Love called What Chilli Wants which follows Rozonda Thomas (better known as Chilli from the hip-hop group TLC) and her search for love. VH1 executive vice president Jeff Olde told the Associated Press that they’re constantly evolving their shows to tell different stories. “I love that we’ve been able to get more diverse with our audience by — in large part — attracting African-American women to the network. We got them in the door with some shows, and now I’m excited about where we’re going and how we’re telling them different kinds of stories.’’ But don’t get your hopes up. The new shows deal with a much more affluent set of women of color but drinks and punches still fly in every direction along with many of the same old Hollywood stereotypes of people of color.