Trite & Outlandish: Why The Girlfriend Experience Fails to Arouse Viewers

 

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Christine Reade is an enigma.

In many ways, we learn a lot about her over the 13 episodes of The Girlfriend Experience but we still never get to truly know her. We meet her as an ambitious law student who lands a very competitive internship in Chicago.

But by the season finale, we’re left asking ourselves ‘why?’ That’s usually not a bad element of a television show. How in The Girlfriend Experiences‘ case, it means that people are as confused as they were after the Dexter series finale. Like what was that? The Girlfriend Experience is the creation of Lodge Kerrigan and Amy Seimetz and executive produced by Steven Soderbergh.

Like Starz’ other limited series Flesh & Bone The Girlfriend Experience will lure you into an all day binge session.

But there’s nothing about Christine that would make me understand her being so successful as an escort. There’s a belief amongst many that being a high end escort is more glamorous than prostitution.

However, would we be calling this show the best of the year if it starred a Black woman? Picture this: A Black law student decides to moonlight as an escort in Chicago. I can see the think pieces already. I also can’t picture this show having the same hype surrounding this show if it was.

The show has enormous ups and downs. The finale episode might as well have been a Cinemax soft porn film.

Critics are in love with The Girlfriend Experience because it appears to be a new source of female empowerment: an educated young girl taking her future by subsidizing her income through escorting. The problem is this courtesy isn’t offered to actual sex workers in real life. Real sex workers aren’t afforded the opportunity to be understood. Most are thrown in jail without the option of the benefit of the doubt.

Vulture described The Girlfriend Experience as one of the Best Shows of the year. I’m assuming the writer isn’t a fan of The Walking Dead, black~ish, and plenty of other shows that run circles around this series.

Even more unrealistic is the sex that Christine has with the clients. She not particularly extra sexy or even engaging. She looks dry as hell. To put it mildly, if I paid for sex with Christine, I’d probably ask for a refund right after.

You mean to tell me that she enjoys sleeping with all of these old men and she has an orgasm every time? Please. Even Samantha Jones didn’t live that kind of life.

At various points in the show, you wonder if Christine is purposely sabotaging her life. The who done it aspect of the corporate storyline makes it difficult to understand if you should be rooting for or against Christine.

I enjoyed The Girlfriend Experience. It was a great way to pass a lazy Sunday.

But this show definitely isn’t the game-changer it’s being lauded as.

Don’t Save Her: On Mainstream Media’s Eternal Caping For Megyn Kelly

When I was growing, I was bossy kid.

I was always telling other people, specifically my mother what to do. I’d make these grandiose requests to which my mother would often reply ‘You must think you Miss Ann around here.‘ Of course, as a 90s kids growing up I had no idea who Miss Ann was or what the term even meant. But as I’ve grown up, I’ve met Miss Ann many times in many forms in my life and it’s never a pleasant experience.

Megyn Kelly is Miss Ann in her ultimate form.

As I write this I am furious.

While I am not surprised, I remain flabbergasted by mainstream media’s loving embrace of Megyn Kelly. Variety, which featured Kelly on the cover last year recently posted a tweet that got my attention. 

Son.

IS MEGYN KELLY THE NEXT BARBARA WALTERS?

I want to offer my condolences to the legend Barbara Walters. To have her decades of courageous work compared to the likes of Megyn Kelly must have been humiliating and soul crushing.

Of course, I reacted as anyone else who saw the tweet.

It is important to remember that they are referring to Megyn Kelly.

The same Megyn Kelly, who said the 14 year-old girl assaulted by a police officer in McKinney, TX last year ‘was no saint either.’

The same Megyn Kelly, who went out of her way to declare that Santa Claus and Jesus were indeed white. 

The same Megyn Kelly, who works for a company that is so racist, they don’t even bother trying to hide it.

Kelly fell into the embrace of mainstream media because of her ongoing beef with Presidential candidate Donald Trump. Trump, noted troll, has tweeted some of the most vile and sexist things ever known to man about Kelly.

So that I’m clear: no woman deserves to be spoken to or treated the way Trump has treated Kelly.

HOWEVER.

Media’s love affair with Megyn is not only a slap in the face to real journalists but especially Black women. Make no mistake about it: if Kelly had been Joy-Ann Reid or Tamron Hall, they wouldn’t have most if any of the consideration of Variety or any other mainstream media publications. They likely would’ve been told to get thicker skin, that it was part of the gig and to deal with it.

Hell, when Melissa Harris-Perry was nearly physically attacked in Iowa, MSNBC wouldn’t even grant her security.

More than anything, it is Kelly’s hateful rhetoric that disturbs me. Any person willing to blame the victim of an attack rather than the perpetrator is dangerous. There’s literally hundreds of videos on YouTube that more than prove that Megyn Kelly is not only just as bad as Bill O’Reilly but she can get away with it because she is Miss Ann and ‘they’ (salute DJ Khaled) will protect her at all costs.

Can you imagine if a police officer assaulted a white teenager and then a Black ‘journalist’ got on TV and said she was no saint? Me neither. They would be fired by the end of the broadcast.

So to answer Variety’s question, Megyn Kelly isn’t the next Barbara Walters. Hell, she isn’t even the next Josie Geller.

Besides, I think we all know who the next Barbara Walters is…

Soledad O’Brien!

Why I’m Finally Done Debating World Issues On Facebook


(This is how I feel about some of my ‘friends’ on Facebook)

It is absolutely impossible to have a nuanced debate conversation about real issues with people on Facebook. Y’all believe anything that you read. I can’t count how many times I’ve seen you all link to sites that aren’t anywhere close to credible as evidence.

You don’t even know how to discern between facts of the case and opinion. Someone tried to tell me that when Bill Cosby admitted in a deposition to giving women drugs to inhibit them to have sex with him that it was ok because it was the 70s & everyone was doing drugs.

How??? Wha???

If it was any other person it would be called date rape. Why are y’all going so hard about defending this man?

I saw CharlamagneTheGod tweet ‘why is it that all the great ones are charged with rape?’ (Tyson,Pac,etc) Bruh. You should be asking why is it that men in positions of power routinely allowed to behave in a way that allows them to conceal crimes and emerge from situations unscathed. Mike Tyson is now an American hero. Pac wasn’t convicted of rape but sexual abuse (damn near the same thing) but was able to thrive in the short year following his release from prison.

I haven’t had the time but I plan on unfriending & unfollowing all Cosby apologists on social media. Even the R. Kelly apologists didn’t annoy me as much as these folks. It’s like you almost believe that he is your real dad and you have to defend him at all costs. The sad thing is that the people that are taking up for this admitted rapists are teachers, professionals and even worst parents. I’ve seen a mother of two post status after status defending this man.

And for what?

I almost shudder to think what you’ll tell young adults when they come to you and tell you they’ve been raped. Will you believe them? Will you say it’s because they were doing drugs or drinking? What lengths will you go to not believe women when they say they’ve been raped?

Is this only when the accused is Black? We’ve seen comparison to Seventh Heaven dad on social media. Both men are vile human beings. In Stephen Collins’ case, the statue of limitations ran out before charges could be filed. Cosby is only being charged for a case that hasn’t expired not the 50 other allegations of rape against him.

The magic of TV is amazing.

As a 90s kid, I feel like I grew up with Corey and Topanga and Dawson and Joey myself. We’ve all be inspired by the Cosby Show. The well-to do family was comedy gold. The re-runs have raised an entire generation. But it’s just that: TV. You can’t run into Raven-symone or James Van Der Beek and expect them to know you simply because you watched their shows on TV.

So why do you think you should spend your time defending a person that didn’t exist? It doesn’t make any logical sense and there are masses of people who for the life of me can’t that into their heads.

Part of being a writer/journalist is being able to be a researcher. It’s being an avid reader and being able to discern what’s credible and what is not. It’s also knowing when to shut the fuck up when you don’t know what you’re talking about. Sadly those critical thinking skills weren’t taught across all disciplines in public schools.

I’ve had strong debates with my Republican friends on social media about elections and heated exchanges with my pro-life friends about Planned Parenthood (an organization that I’ll die protecting). I’m  fortunate that during those debates & heated conversations that its always remained about the issue & not placing blame on anyone else. Or worse, people taking things personal. But after various exchanges about a TV dad, I can no longer waste my energy discussing shit like this on Facebook.

I use to actually like engaging in dialogue about world issues online. But alas, that time is over.

I’m tired.

And completely over it.

Confessions Of A Former Beyoncé Hater: How ‘Love On Top’ Made Me A Fan

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I’ll admit it: I used to hate Beyoncé. Straight up. For many years, I did not mess with her.

Let me start from the beginning. Growing up, I was a Mariah Carey, TLC, Gwen Stefani,every other girl group-loving little girl. I was even in one, we called ourselves “The Baby Girls.” We’d practice in my living room for hours then perform our favorite song, En Vogue‘sDon’t Let Go (Love). Oh, the 90s.

It wasn’t until Bills,Bills, Bills dropped that Destiny’s Child caught my attention. The song was everywhere and The Writing’s On the Wall album became a classic upon its release.

I remember the first time I saw the Say My Name video, my excitement quickly turned to confusion. “What is that?” I wondered. I recognized Beyoncé & Kelly but where was LeToya & LaTavia? Apparently, LeToya and Latavia were wondering the same thing. I later learned, through MTV News (remember when we got music news from MTV?), they had been replaced.

Then, I saw an interview where Kelly and Beyoncé were asked if they had seen LeToya and LaTavia since the split and before Kelly could answer, Beyoncé interrupted and said, “Don’t even say her name.”

Girl what?

That was it for me. Bey was so shady! See the many clips of her notorious shade on YouTube. That was the year I stopped being a Beyoncé fan. It also didn’t help her case, 2001 was the yearAlicia Keys dropped her debut album and Aaliyah died. There were plenty of other R&B artists to enjoy.

By the time Dangerously In Love was released the summer of 2003, I was disinterested in hearing any Beyonce tunes. Jay Z was my favorite rapper, but at that point, I hated his collaborations with Bey. 03 Bonnie & Clyde was trash and so was Crazy in Love. (I still stand by this).

But Me, Myself & I was the truth and my roommate and I spent plenty of time dancing to the Baby Boy video in our dorm. Don’t get me wrong, a good song is a good song, but I wasn’t feeling Bey as a person.

Fast forward some years.

The boom of social media and rabid fans combined to bring forth the #Beyhive and many careers were ruined in the process. Cough, cough. Keri Hilson. During this time she tried her hand at acting (terribly if we’re being honest) and even covered Alanis Morissette’s classicYou Oughta Know at the 2010 Grammy Awards. Alanis may have been fine with it, but I wasn’t.

But in 2011, something shifted. Beyoncé released 4 and Love on Top . It’s like she released it just for me. I LOVE THAT SONG! My friends looked at me crazy when I started singing Love On Top like the gospel it is. My notorious disdain for Bey had suddenly been overturned. They were confused. Was I really jamming to Love On Top hard? Yes I was!

Giving birth to the adorable Blue Ivy Carter also helped. But it was December 13, 2013, when she shocked the world and released her self-titled album that she earned my respect. The album completely changed the music industry. But more importantly, there was Beyoncé loudly and proudly proclaiming that she was a feminist. She had my vote.

When news of the ‘On The Run tour‘ hit the Internets, I actually stayed home from work just to make sure I got tickets. I wasn’t going to miss that show for the anything. I saw the sold out On The Run Tour in Chicago at Soldier Field stadium. IT WAS LIFE! If you’ve ever seen Beyoncé live, you know home girl puts on a damn good show. I was baptized in Bey-zus holy water that night.

Don’t mistake it, I haven’t reached #BeyHive stan level, but I’ve come a long way. Years ago, you couldn’t even get me to watch a Beyoncé performance. Now I anticipate them. I still critique her moves but I appreciate her contribution to music and I’m obsessed with new photos of Blue Ivy.

I’m just no longer President of the ‘I Hate Beyoncé’ Club and I’m perfectly fine with that.

*Update*

Beyoncé just won the Super Bowl.

Again.

Why This Season of Being Mary Jane Was Everything We Needed

Being-Mary-Jane

‘Beautifully flawed’ is the tagline of BET’s one hour drama Being Mary Jane and there aren’t any other words needed when describing Mary Jane Paul and this amazing show.

For the first 2 seasons, Mary Jane Paul was insufferable.

She was quite literally the absolute worst person. It was easy to initially write of Being Mary Jane as just another show about a Black woman sleeping with a married man but Being Mary Jane proved time and time again that it was more than that. This season we were able to understand what makes her the person she is.

Season 3 picked up following Mary Jane’s horrific car accident after she overheard that her longtime friend Lisa and the ex love of her life David had engaged in a sexual act together. Mary Jane spent the first few episodes of the season getting her life back together. This season also ushered in Loretta Devine as we had never seen her: an opportunistic, conniving extortionist but also wise as she gave Mary Jane some of the best knowledge she didn’t know she needed.

This season explored the important stories of the supporting characters in Mary Jane’s life.  These stories hit nearly every taboo topic in the Black community and we needed to see them on television.

  • Black suicide and depression

Being Mary Jane made us confront the elephant in the room that is Black suicide. Mary Jane’s longtime friend Lisa Hudson was a doctor who suffered from depression.  We never really understood Lisa until her suicide when we learned she was molested by her stepfather for a number of years. Although suicide rates for Black women are statistically very low, often many Black women suffer silently from depression.

  • Mary Jane is Black woman with an AMAZING sex life

Before this show, I had never truly seen a free Black woman on TV. The best parts of the show have been watching Mary Jane engage in the most carefree sex of her life. Mary Jane has some of the steamiest sex scenes on television and the best part is no one is labeling her as loose, fast or a hoe. She’s grown!

It’s carefree but not irresponsible. The December 1 episode showed Mary Jane and her lover taking home HIV tests. My only gripe is that we never see her taking the tests only him. Now that she’s here, I want to see more characters like her. The audience is demanding more characters like her.

  • A real look at police brutality

The explosive season finale was like watching a clip from the police dash cam videos we’ve gotten use to seeing. Mary Jane’s niece Niecy had a violent confrontation with police reminiscent to that of Sandra Bland and viewers held their breaths as they didn’t know what would happen next. It seems that Niecy survived the ordeal but we’ll have to wait until next season to really understand how it affects her character.

BMJ has consistently shown us a free Black woman unafraid (mostly) to live her life unapologetically. You cannot find that anywhere else in the entertainment landscape- not on network television, Netflix, Hulu, cable and definitely not in films.

Every Tuesday, Black twitter gathered to watch Mary Jane Paul juggle a career as a mainstream journalist with her love life and family responsibilities. I’ve even found that men enjoy live tweeting the show. Sure we love Scandal and How to get away with murder but this season of BMJ was revolutionary.

We can’t name a show that has successfully tackled Black depression, drug abuse, interracial dating, and the plight of the overworked mom, teen pregnancy and Black families mixed with relevant political news all in one. That type of show never existed before Being Mary Jane.

Without the respectably politics of The Cosby Show or the theatrics of Empire, Being Mary Jane is the show that we’ve always needed. This show excels at showing us as we are and as people we know.
It’s clear that being BMJ is more than a TV show. For many of us, it’s a place we turn to that lets us know that we’re not alone. We’re not the only people dealing with complicated family issues.

Mara Brock Akil (creator/show runner) has a knack for creating Black women characters that are complicated, 3 dimensional, unpredictable, innovative, charming, both likable and unlikable. She gave use Joan Clayton and Tasha Mack but we found ourselves in Mary Jane Paul.

I hope the shows next season doesn’t suffer with Mara Brock Akil exiting BET as show runner. But the good news is that Akil and her husband Salim are headed to primetime television so hopefully the next Mary Jane Paul will be in even more homes.

Watching Being Mary Jane has been like spending time with your family every week. Despite everyone’s problems, the family loves each other and always vows to stick together. In an age where the Black family is vilified, BMJ is proof that the Black family is alive, needed and necessary.

Adina Howard’s ‘Freak Like Me’: A Black Feminist Anthem

This essay is kind of late.

Well 20 years late. Pardon my lateness but I was only 10 years old when this song was released. But even then, I knew this song was revolutionary.

I was at 80s/90s party in Brooklyn over the weekend and one of my favorite jams came on: Adina Howard’s ‘Freak Like Me.’ From the moment the beat dropped, I remembered how instrumental this song was in the 90s.

Released in 1995, My fondest memories of this song are riding in my mom’s red Chevy during Chicago’s notorious heat wave that killed hundreds that summer. I even bought Adina Howard’s debut album ‘Do you wanna ride?’ on tape. Remember those days?!

You can’t say this song didn’t influence today’s Black singers to be more bold and upfront with singing and expressing sexuality. Sure, there’s always been Janet Jackson and Madonna but ‘Freak Like Me‘ was different.  Think Beyonce’s ‘Rocket‘ and Ciara’s ‘Ride‘ before she went celibate.

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She’s was a woman upfront and unafraid of asking for what she wants. ‘Let me lay it on the line, I got a little freakiness inside and you know that the man has got to deal with it.’ Right from the jump, she’s letting you know what she wants and laying out her boundaries.

I don’t care what they say, I’m not about to pay nobody’s way. ‘ She’s not Erykah Badu. Bye Tyrone!

The video was even better. Adina picks up her homegirls in her drop top and they ride out to a party. But before they get there, they deal with street harassment from different cars of men. Watch as Adina pulls off on them at the 1:45 minute mark.

Adina had no problems expressing her desires to her potential partners either. ‘ Boy you’re moving kind of slow, you gotta keep it up now there ya go.’

Listen. I have been apart of too many conversations with women about being dissatisfied during sex. Sadly there are also women afraid of telling their partners that they’re not satisfied. Adina wasn’t one of them.

Freak like me‘ was revolutionary because folks weren’t used to a Black women being so bold and brazen about what she wanted in the bedroom. Adina put her pleasure above anything else and that was a revolutionary act. She encouraged other women to speak up for themselves and it was a hit! The song hit number 1 on the R&B charts and number 13 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

Some may not think of ‘Freak Like Me‘ as having a place in feminism. Adina herself may not think so. Hell, I’m pretty certain the ashy Larry contingent would even call it a ‘hoe anthem.’ But it was definitely an important moment for Black sexuality and I salute her. Adina Howard’s ‘T-shirt & panties‘ is also another classic but that’s a whole other essay.

Check out Adina Howard’s new music here.

The New Starz Series ‘Flesh and Bone’ Cuts Deep

I am not a review writer.

Review writing is an art. A talent. It’s a talent I learned I didn’t have when I was in college and tasked with writing a review for ‘Snakes on a Plane.’ It was trash. So trash that my editor had another colleague write the review. It was a good decision.

But now I’m at it again because I simply couldn’t not write about Starz’ limited series “Flesh and Bone.” There’s something about ballet dramas that I can’t turn away from. From the ballet/hip hop drama “Save The Last Dance” to Natalie Portman’s Oscar winning performance in “Black Swan“, ballet movies and television shows make damn good dramas.

Flesh and Bone” stars Sarah Hay as Claire Robbins, a talented but troubled dancer who flees  Pittsburgh for New York City in hopes of becoming a ballet dancer at a prestigious dance company. She finds herself in the gritty, ruthless world of ballet and that isn’t even where the craziness begins.

Screenshot via tvguide.com

Screenshot via tvguide.com

By the end of the first episode you’ll understand why Claire decided to runaway and you’ll be shocked and disgusted.

The show doesn’t sugarcoat the hardships of professional dancing. From bloodied feet to diet pills and drug use, it’s as bare bones as it gets. There is a moment when a big toenail completely comes off and I literally had to turn away.

What makes ‘Flesh and Bone‘ so authentic is the formula: It isn’t a show where actors become dancers for the role but it’s dancers that are acting. It adds an authenticity to the show that would be missing if creator Moira Walley-Beckett didn’t specifically search for those dancers.

The supporting cast of Emily Tyra, Ben Daniels, Raychel Diane Weiner, Irina Dvorovenko and more are phenomenal at bringing the seedy side of the professional ballet world to light.

I did have a few gripes about the show: The homeless, mentally disabled guy that lives in the building is very unrealistic. It’s 2015. I’m almost certain there aren’t any landlords offering free housing for carrying tenants groceries and mattresses upstairs in the SoHo/East Village neighborhood Claire lives in. (If there are, please let me know.) I understand that it’s television but that was WAY too unbelievable for me.

There are a few holes in Claire’s family story that I think need to be addressed. What really happened to her mother? How did her relationship with her brother become so dysfunctional? Answers that ideally would be answered in season two.

But it looks like there isn’t going to be a second season.

Sadly, Vanity Fair reported that Starz C.E.O Chris Albrecht said the show’s production is ‘not sustainable on a seasonable basis.”

Creator Moira Walley-Beckett has said that she is fine the show as a limited series.

” I kind of feel like it is what it is. This was it’s moment, and I’m really happy with how complete the story is for better or worse.”

No.

I’m not accepting any of this. This show is TOO GOOD to not go on. Can you imagine if “The Walking Dead” only had 1 season? Or ” Breaking Bad?” We would’ve have missed out on so much good TV.

Catch “Flesh and Bone” on Starz Sunday nights at 8/7 CST. Or you can binge watch the entire season on Starz Play and On Demand.