Does the world need a saved version of The Real?
According to Jamal Bryant, a co-host of The Preachers, “There’s never been more of a need for a show like this.” The faith-based panel show, currently on a three-week test run in New York and Los Angeles, features “four outspoken preachers known for their unique takes on pop culture, news events and spirituality.” The four are Bryant, John Gray, E. Dewey Smith Jr. and Orrick Quick. Considering that Bryant is the same man who has employed phrases in his sermons such as “sanctified sissies” while quoting Chris Brown’s “These hos ain’t loyal” lyric, there’s legitimate reason to find his claim of The Preachers’ necessity rather dubious.
Mere minutes into the show’s first segment on debut day, such suspicions were confirmed.
During a discussion about the Black Lives Matter movement and police brutality, while Smith did acknowledge the role that racism plays in policing, he discussed the work of his law-enforcement-working uncle before asking, “Does a black police officer’s life matter?”
Then Quick offered the following analogy: “If you have three children and one of them breaks curfew, would you punish all children? So my question is, why would we punish every police officer as if they pulled the trigger?”
A better question is, why would one want to contribute to the false narrative that critics of bad policing are generalizing all who work in law enforcement?
After that came Gray, who acknowledged that he had been racially profiled in his “very nice neighborhood” in Houston while he sat in his car parked in his driveway. When Bryant asked the panel what should be done moving forward, Gray decided that instead of being “bitter” and “disillusioned,” he would opt to “go to the police department with gifts to introduce myself.” Gray also thanked the police for what they do, noting it was “his job to initiate peace and be the bridge builder.”
A cameraperson then panned to an applauding group of nonblack women, none of whom will likely ever have to know what it is like to feel tortured by those who have taken a sworn oath to serve and protect all. It may be Gray’s job to initiate peace as a pastor, but such rules do not apply to black people who find themselves judged guilty because of bigotry by someone donning a badge.
Throughout the premier episode and in numerous interviews and promos touting the show, it was celebrated that there is now a show with four men—notably black men—on TV. However, from the talk show hosted by Tyrese and Rev. Run on OWN earlier this year, we know that being black, or being black and male alone, is not enough. Do we need a homophobic pastor with this large a platform? Do we need black clergymen preaching messages of docility to hurting black folks on national television?
What good is your melanin count if your messaging is messy?
Still, being a forgiving person like Beyoncé by the end of Lemonade, I opted to give this show another chance. Wednesday’s episode launched with more hot topics—among them Azealia Banks' skin bleaching. Bryant, who fancies himself quite nicely and makes that very clear on the show, made a joke about Lil’ Kim and Banks using a two-for-one deal on bleaching cream.
WWJD? Probably not say that. One of the other panelists then likened skin bleaching to cosmetic surgery and not wanting to be in “God’s image.” Well, that’s certainly one facile, hyperbolic way of viewing cosmetic surgery.
After this came a discussion about cohabitation, and with it, the potency of my nerves:
Just because society has changed doesn’t mean the word has.
There is a difference between what is legal and what is moral.
Sex before marriage blinds you from a person’s character.
If sex blinds you from a person’s character, you have the judgment of a dying woodpecker. As fate or, in this case, faith would have it, as cringeworthy as those remarks were, they weren’t the worst part of the episode. Such honors would go to the first interview of the show with Omarosa.
Though Omarosa bragged about her past interviews with the likes of Oprah and appearances on The View, more recently she has been the go-to guest for newer daytime talk shows. One, ’cause she won’t miss a chance to be on camera, and two, she’ll provide conflict. Such was the case on The Preachers as she argued with Bryant, who once served as her “spiritual adviser” on her TV One show co-produced by Donald Trump. In other words, this new, and purportedly necessary, new forum did the Christian equivalent of Omarosa’s interview with Bethenny Frankel.
Meanwhile, note that Omarosa shouted out the ladies while “sipping the tea,” which was lifted from gay black men. The church is used to pretending that gay men don't exist, so I shouldn’t be shocked that the church-as-a-talk-show would do the same.
For former executive producer and co-creator of The View Bill Geddie, who runs this show, I imagine it was sold on the notion that blacks would follow their pastors to daytime TV. We’ll find out in due time, but I’ve already ordered an Uber for my escape route.
While closing one segment, Bryant declared, “Yo breath gon’ stank if you change the channel.”
Hand me a mint.
Michael Arceneaux hails from Houston, lives in Harlem and praises Beyoncé’s name wherever he goes. Follow him on Twitter.