The world will never see Oxygen’s reality special about Atlanta rapper Shawty Lo and the 10 mothers of his 11 children. NPR‘s Gene Demby wonders whether viewers are missing out on a program that might have made them question stereotypes.
… One of the odd side effects of many reality shows — even those shows meant to paint their subjects as ridiculous or distasteful — is that they can humanize their stars. Here Comes Honey Boo Boo’s detractors are myriad, and they often single out the disdain the producers seem to take toward the Thompsons, the family at the its center. But the show’s fans point out that that disdain (which is nakedly class-based) is undercut by the fact that the Thompsons are affirming toward each other and actually kind of boringly level-headed about their strange notoriety.
And it turns out that Ice-T and Coco have a loving, affectionate marriage, while Tiny and T.I. are active, engaged copilots of their blended family. Sure, both the men in those last two shows are rappers with criminal pasts, but that’s not all they are.
If unconventional families — polygamists, huge broods, marginal celebrities — are a staple of the reality show genre, Babies’ Mamas would seem to fit neatly within those parameters. What if the show’s subjects were mostly concerned with mundane stuff like carpooling logistics and dance rehearsals? Isn’t it possible that Babies’ Mamas could have also granted some humanity to real baby’s mamas and complicated some simplistic, ugly stereotypes about them?
Read Gene Demby’s entire piece at NPR.
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