VH1 on Monday announced the May 5 return of Love & Hip Hop Atlanta, its top-rated show, by releasing a super trailer for the new season. In the four-and-a-half minute video, cast member Mimi Faust talks about making a sex tape with her now-fiance, Nikko Smith. Later, Faust appears to be shocked when she learns that the tape (of course) leaked. "I have a daughter!" she wails to Smith.
Right on time, TMZ confirmed the long-standing rumors of the tape, saying that Vivid Entertainment—the distributor of the infamous Kim Kardashian sex tape—would release video this month. TMZ's story noted that Smith and Faust, despite her apparent concern about her child, apparently gave her "sign off" on the tape going public. By midday, a 46-second trailer of said tape, Mimi and Nikko: Scandal in Atlanta, was posted on World Star Hip Hop. At press time, the clip had received upward of 6 million views.
Here are the most confusing moments surrounding reality TV's latest scandal.
Viewers of the show rooted for Faust, the long-suffering "baby mama" to a philandering man. She owned her own business and made it clear that she wasn't in the relationship for the money. In general, she was depicted as a good (and rightfully angry) woman in love with the wrong man. And she was particularly hard on his other woman, Joseline Hernandez, because she used to be a stripper.
Viewers thought that if Faust could just leave her ex alone—except for when it involved their daughter—she would be OK in the long run. Then she left him, chose an equally bad partner and made a "sex tape." Fans are shocked and disappointed because they expected more from her.
Viewers didn't take too kindly to Faust's next boyfriend, who seemed like a second-tier version of her child's father. Their on-again, off-again relationship was filled with made-for-TV antics such as his buying her a fake Rolex watch. Or his asking her to star in his (very bad) music video, in which she had blink-and-you-miss-it screen time. He also seemed to bring out the worst in Faust, who was reduced to a screaming caricature of her first-season self.
Fans hoped Faust would come to her senses and leave Smith (for good), maybe just be alone for a while and raise her daughter, before she got in too deep. But clearly that didn't happen.
It's Not Actually a ‘Sex Tape’
When I think of amateur sex tapes, I think of unsteady cameras, bad lighting and a single-angle that misses most of the action. Scandal in Atlanta isn't that; it's a high-quality production. It doesn't have the feel of two people getting it on in their bedroom (or bathroom). It's more like two people, a couple of cameramen, a lighting guy, a sound woman and a director. It's better produced than your average porn, and given the effort involved, it was clearly made to be seen by as many people as possible, despite Faust's seeming outrage in the extended trailer.
The Shower Rod
In what is overall an extremely graphic video, one scene stands out. In the trailer, Faust is shown mounting Smith while swinging from a shower curtain rod, the breakout "star" of the production. Across social media, viewers wondered, "But wait. … Where did she get a shower rod that sturdy?" They were all asking for a friend, of course. And even those who were disappointed in Faust respected her skills on the rod (pun not intended.)
Everyone Blames Mimi
Perhaps it's a testament to how far our society has to go in terms of overcoming sexism, but I have yet to hear anyone drag Smith for his participation in a sex tape. Or maybe it's because Faust is a co-star on the show and has a daughter that she's getting all the hate. But if you have something to say, at least distribute your angst evenly. Mimi didn't give a solo performance.
What's the Point?
Countless relatively unknown celebs have made sex tapes as a way of propelling their careers from mediocrity to mega-stardom, but Faust is already the prominent co-star of a hit TV show in its third season on a leading cable network. She already had fame, recognition and likely money. So why did she do this?
One of the guesses floating around is that she wanted more screen time—and a juicy storyline involving a sex scandal is certainly one way to get it. High ratings and great buzz surrounding her story for season three practically guarantee her spot in a very likely season four. Maybe she'll even get her own spinoff, too. Faust also likely received a cushy advance for the sale of the tape, and if she's the businesswoman she claims to be, she'll get a cut of the profits as well. A scene from the extended trailer shows Faust and Smith meeting with an executive who advises them that they "stand to make a lot of money" from the tape.
Whatever her reasons for making the tape, I hope they were worth it to her. Fans of the show seem utterly baffled by her latest move, even while they clamor to watch the tape.
Demetria L. Lucas is a contributing editor at The Root, a life coach and the author of A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life and the upcoming Don’t Waste Your Pretty: The Go-to Guide for Making Smarter Decisions in Life & Love. Follow her on Twitter.