(The Root) — VH1 is clearly committed to capitalizing on the ratings success of Love and Hip-Hop: New York with the debut of Love and Hip-Hop: Atlanta. As in the show's predecessor, the ladies of Love and Hip-Hop: Atlanta are involved in the rap game either as performer or wifey of a "famous" rapper or producer, in this case rapper Lil' Scrappy and producer Stevie J (Diddy, Eve, Mariah Carey).
There are the usual suspects — including jilted girlfriend Erica Dixon, Lil' Scrappy's live-in love whom he dumped after having a public affair with Atlanta rapper Diamond, who later dumped him for a fling with Soulja Boy. Erica reunites with Lil' Scrappy for their daughter's sake and, surprise, surprise, still has trust issues. Erica seeks counseling from Lil' Scrappy's mother. Momma Dee, who should be called Big Scrappy because of her rough demeanor, is clearly Lil' Scrappy's real ride-or-die chick. She lambastes Erica for withholding affection from Lil' Scrappy because of her trust issues. If you can imagine Jim Jones' mother, Nancy Jones, to the fifth power, then you've got Momma Dee.
Then there's Mimi Faust, longtime girlfriend of Stevie J. Mimi's delusions of a love life with Stevie J begin with her claim that the two have been together for 15 years, which would be plausible had Stevie J not been involved in a high-profile relationship with rapper Eve for five of those 15 years.
To say that Stevie J has a wandering eye is an understatement, since he is clearly "involved" with artist Joseline Hernandez, who seems to be more of a drag queen than a rapper. Mimi's issues involve trust and a clear loss of self-esteem as she suffers one humiliation after another at the hands of Stevie J, a wannabe player whose game is as weak as Joseline's "rap." Mimi's obsession with him seems as loony as Lil' Scrappy's mother, who admits at one point that she is off her meds — one of the funnier moments in a tragic episode.
Can you say, "Celebrity Smackdown," featuring Momma Dee, Nancy Jones and Frankie Cole? That is clearly where this reality show is headed. Add to the mix aspiring rapper and busybody Karlie R. Webb, who lets Stevie J's affair with Joseline "accidentally" slip during a girls' night out, and you've got the beginning of the end of potential friendships.
Unlike the stars of Love and Hip-Hop: New York, all of the ladies are mothers, and like the stars of the predecessor, each is involved in some level of personal turmoil related to their more "famous partners," the term used loosely. If you can imagine a show even more ridiculous than the original, then this is it.
The show depicts blatant disrespect on multiple levels, very little love and women who are old enough to know and do better behaving in ways that are just plain silly. Luckily, there are no catfights, except when Stevie J throws a drink on Joseline's "fur" (again, a word used loosely). It was actually nice to see K. Michelle excuse herself from what looked like a possible fight between Mimi and Joseline when Karlie spilled the beans about Stevie J's affair, and even better when Mimi's best friend, Ariane, made Mimi remove herself from a situation in which she looked like a fool.
The producers of the Love and Hip-Hop franchise are not straying from their formula of showcasing women of color whose self-worth is wrapped up in their man's status, not to mention meddling mothers, fake friendships and contrived conflict that could be easily resolved with a little common sense.
Nsenga K. Burton, Ph.D., is editor-at-large for The Root. Follow her on Twitter.
Nsenga K. Burton, Ph.D., a media scholar, is digital editor in chief at Grady Newsource and a faculty member of the Cox Institute of Journalism, Innovation, Management & Leadership at the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia. She is founder and editor in chief of the award-winning news blog the Burton Wire. Follow her on Twitter here or here.