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Tepid relations, stereotypes hamper ‘Basketball Wives’

TV Review | 2 out of 5 stars

Published: Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Updated: Tuesday, September 18, 2012 07:09

In recent years, VH1 has begun to catch up to television’s endemic lifestyle−based reality shows by targeting a different demographic of status−conscious viewers. The cable station has produced shows like “Basketball Wives,” “Baseball Wives” (2011−12) and the much more tragic, less decipherable “Basketball Wives LA” with mixed and often disappointing results. Season two of Basketball Wives LA kicked off — or rather fell off — with a recap of the action from last season, which included backstabbing, heightened awareness of the cameras and a group of women searching for social belonging among their peers.

The show begins with Jackie Christie, wife of former NBA player Doug Christie, talking with her husband about her failed friendships with the other cast members. The self−appointed queen bee of the posse, she feels the other ladies should apologize to her for their accusations that she started last season’s drama. However, Jackie seems hesitant to actually give up her grudge, preferring to lament about it to anyone within earshot, like her husband and devoted friend Sundy. Jackie says the women are jealous she has everything they want and that their drive is low.

We then learn that Laura Govan, sister of castmate Gloria Govan and girlfriend of former Orlando Magic player Gilbert Arenas, is back in Los Angeles after moving to Orlando, Fla. She confides that she hasn’t even spoken to her own sister in over a year, adding weight to the argument that when the show isn’t filming the women rarely confide in one another as friends, let alone as sisters. Gloria is in the midst of planning a dinner with the other castmates to sample recipes from her new cookbook. Yes, Ms. Govan is writing a cookbook, which seems to be the career path of choice for several celebreality stars, including the wildly successful Bettheny Frankel of “Real Housewives of New York” and the wildly tacky Teresa Guidice of “Real Housewives of New Jersey.”

Next we catch up with Malaysia Pargo, wife of Atlanta Hawks player Jannero Pargo, as she fills Draya Michele in on the hustle and bustle — or lack thereof — of Atlanta living. It is evident that the only reason these women would even share breathing room is for the sake of being on “BBWLA.” The disconnect between the ladies is palpable. Draya, a stripper−turned−model−turned−actress−turned−hostess, fresh from the modeling and hosting circuit, is focusing her energy into creating a bikini line, Mint Swim. Her pearl of wisdom?

“I want to be rich. Rich people don’t rush, they take their time,” she says.

It is clear that Draya has an eye toward her post−”Basketball Wives” life, but viewers are skeptical about her decision to capitalize on a swimwear line. But have no fear, she has brought her friend and cast newcomer Brooke Bailey to model the suits. Bailey is destined to find herself caught between two worlds — the modeling and video vixen industry of Draya’s fame and the high−profile life that accompanies dating an NBA player, like Gloria Govan has done. Though she initially gets on swimmingly with the Govan sisters, she should still be able to maintain her friendship with Draya, right?

While the women are at Gloria’s house, sampling recipes from her Black−Mexican−Italian cookbook, Jackie pops up, invited by Malaysia. She walks in and acts like an invited guest, while viewers see Gloria face grimace. Although Jackie is trying to work her way back into the social circle, her intentions are not easily interpreted. Let’s be honest, she said some mean words last season, so the recalcitrance of the other women is understandable. However, how can Jackie expect them to welcome her warmly, when she continues to badmouth them?

Season two of “Basketball Wives LA,” even for a reality TV junkie, should be missed. It perpetuates negative images and stereotypes of women of color and their athlete mates, and the cast members are dreadful. “Real Housewives of New York City” ex−cast member Jill Zarin said it best when she noted that if the cast members are not friends with one another when the cameras are off, the viewers will not be invested in their plotlines, since the true chemistry and heartfelt conflict that reality TV viewers crave will be absent. Unfortunately, it is evident that in “BBWLA” the women do not keep in touch socially when the cameras aren’t rolling. Lack of genuine relationships, even in the context of a reality TV show, is a serious setback for “BBWLA.”

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