While there is no confirmation about reports that the entire cast of Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta has been fired, I do know that after the latest season of the hit reality series, something’s gotta give. For years now, LHHATL has been my favorite Negro telenovela, but I’m not enjoying it as much as I used to. Like, watching the last 12 episodes has been the equivalent of arriving at the fish fry hungry, only to be served cold pieces of tilapia (I prefer hot fried catfish, FYI).
Let’s gather ’round and count the mistakes:
1. Way too much focus on the King family.
Make no mistake: LHHATL is still a hit series and, for many of us, a viewing ritual. However, it’s very easy to go from “I plan around this show” to “Oh, girl, let the DVR catch it.” (This means you, Empire season 2.) To be fair, I believed that the franchise needed new players, but that does not mean we needed to be bombarded with their personal problems mere seconds into the new season.
We went from a very long first date to shacking up within months. Now I feel kidnapped by them. Though the King family seems interesting—America’s Most Wanted alum, baby mama drama, psycho girlfriends—why have we spent so much time on these new folks? And what kills me about this is that in the end, most of them won’t be back next season. Scrapp Deleon is in prison, and his mama is facing 30 years for identity theft. So all of that was for naught.
Put some money on their books and put Tommie in anger management. Then be done with them. God bless or whatever.
2. D. Smith should just go back to producing.
I was quite excited about the idea of a transgender woman being on the show, but what’s most interesting about this season of the show is that although there’s been interesting, progressive conversations about gender and sexuality, D. Smith hasn’t been involved in most of them. D. Smith had every right to be offended by Waka Flocka’s transphobic comments, but her questioning his wife, Tammy Rivera, turned into a real-life back-and-forth fight in the comments section of the Shade Room.
Listen, D. Smith has major credits, but on this here franchise, Tammy Rivera and she are co-workers—and Tammy has a higher job title. I do find it fascinating that trans people get to be like everyone else on the show—aka an almost-villainlike character—but other than that, D. Smith has been depicted as just unnecessarily combative. There could have been some good conversations about tolerance and subtle forms of bigotry, but again, they were lost in the petty sauce.
As for those actual, progressive conversations I was referring to, those honors go to Mimi’s ex, Chris. I’m not sure Chris identifies as genderqueer, but that was essentially the breakdown given. Some of the best scenes of this show consisted of Mimi, Chris and Ariel discussing sexuality and gender identity on a couch over wine they probably got from Target. And that’s no shade. Target has a decent selection.
3. I don’t give a damn about all of these other strangers and doubt you do, either.
This includes Amber Priddy, who looks like Teena Marie’s wayward great niece, and her boyfriend, whose name I don’t even remember, and it’s not important. And the same can be said of D. Smith’s homegirl, Betty Idol. Betty Idol is interesting because she wears La Toya Jackson’s old hats and sings like a trap version of her. Nonetheless, that walking cartoon is extra for no reason. Maybe she can fit on future editions of the show with an actual narrative. Beyond that, though, she and the rest of these folks can pack their stuff and leave.
4. When did Joseline become Bilingual Cruella de Vil?
So, as much as I love the Puerto Rican Princess, her storyline with Stevie J has been ridiculous even by this show’s standards. She’s going around making up stories for the hell of it because she thinks it’s her time to be Geppetto. The end result of that was some really stupid scene in which some random woman tells Mimi and Stevie that she doesn’t have a secret baby by Stevie and that she made the whole thing up to be famous. That was literally one of the dumbest things I’ve ever seen on television, and my barbershop routinely watches The Bill Cunningham Show.
Couldn’t we have just watched Joseline be in the studio or her actually try to be Mimi’s friend? Or see Joseline try to repair her dead friendship with Karlie? Or figure out exactly what happened between her and Dime Penny? I don’t know what wave Joseline is on, but it should have been erased on the storyboard.
5. The other OGs on this show have nothing to do, either.
Rasheeda is just there, which is technically not a new notion on LHHATL, but it’s worse than ever. K. Michelle showed up in contacts and lingering condemnation of her old cast mates. I know revenge is sweet, but when you got it years beforehand and you’re going for more, you’re just giving yourself diabetes and boring the audience to death. Dime Piece has just been moving around without any real motivation. I don’t care about the Bam’s love life, and her going on a double date is about as fun as watching a bird eat cold French fries.
After Chris and Mimi’s relationship ended, Mimi went back to being a sad R&B song from the 1990s and pining over Stevie J. I’m so sick of that. When is she going to let Iyanla yell at her on OWN and break the cycle already?
The only original cast members who’ve managed to still bring it are Momma Dee and Karlie Redd.
In sum, I’ve been let down, and while I’ll clearly finish out this season, I need this show to get its oil changed; otherwise I’m going to let it go like a Toyota Tercel after it dies on a freeway in July. I believe in you, LHHATL. Please return to form.
Michael Arceneaux hails from Houston, lives in Harlem and praises Beyoncé’s name wherever he goes. Follow him on Twitter.