Editor’s note: After this article was published, The Root received this statement from Bravo: “Bravo wants to clarify that the focus of this show is not the Jack and Jill organization.”
The television network that made a household name out of NeNe Leakes and turned “housewives” into a synonym for backstabbing and hair-pulling has now turned its sights on America’s elite black families.
Bravo confirms that a show about the black social organization Jack and Jill is in development. Set in Washington, D.C., where cameras would focus on six mothers, the Washington Post reports that the program, tentatively titled Potomac Ensemble, will be “navigating the cattiness” at Jack and Jill.
The Root contacted Jack and Jill for its reaction, but the organization’s president, Tammy King, was not available for comment.
However, the Post reports that when Jack and Jill learned about the series, King emailed members to voice concern that the program would show the organization in “a negative light.” She reminded them that Jack and Jill mothers are expected to act with “high moral and ethical character” in public. They should display “good manners, avoiding derogatory, demeaning and insulting remarks, and keeping confidences and maintaining confidentiality,” the Post reports.
The Post also obtained a copy of Bravo’s description of Potomac Ensemble, which says the show offers an inside view of the organization that “becomes a playground for gossip and cattiness among its members,” who compete for status in their social circle.
Bravo told The Root that the show just started production, and it’s too soon to comment on Jack and Jill’s reported concerns. The network also said there has been no direct communication with the organization; nor is there any plan to change course.
A source close to the show told The Root, “While Bravo understands Jack and Jill’s initial response to what has been leaked about the program’s content, the network plans to continue production.”
What’s at stake? Jack and Jill likely doesn’t want its image tarnished. A group of Philadelphia mothers established the organization in 1938 to provide social, cultural and educational opportunities for black children. By the 1950s, the organization was known as a social club for elite African-American families, and ultimately membership in the group began to decline.
But there’s reportedly been a resurgence of membership at Jack and Jill as more African Americans find themselves isolated in white communities and want their children to be more connected to their culture. The group has tried to shed its negative reputation and become more relevant in the black community.
No word yet on when Potomac Ensemble will hit the airwaves, or whether the “cattiness” that Bravo is looking for can co-exist with Jack and Jill’s desire for “good manners.”
The last time a reality show tried to horn in on the life of a black social organization, it didn’t end well. VH1’s Sorority Sisters was canceled in a torrent of criticism from sorors around the country, with Alpha Kappa Alpha even going so far as to expel two of its own who appeared on the show.