(The Root) — VH1's Single Ladies picked up with its second season Monday night without Stacey Dash (Val) but didn't skip a beat. LisaRaye McCoy (Keisha), Charity Shea (April) and the show's new addition, Denise Vasi (Raquel), sipped champagne in Val's boutique and poured out a little bubbly in Dash's honor, whose character escaped to Milan and vowed through email never to return to Atlanta.
Ciao bella, Ms. Dash.
In the show's first-season finale, Val was recovering from heartbreak after her boyfriend, Jerry (Colin Salmon), said he never wanted to get married. She doubled back with her ex-fiancé, Quinn (Timon Kyle), just as Jerry decided to come around and show up at her front door with a wedding ring. Keisha's boyfriend, Malcolm (D.B. Woodside), got caught up with the FBI, and her trust continued to waver as his ex-wife kept popping into the picture. Just as April was finally making headway in her career, her husband served her with divorce papers.
Last night's episode, titled "Slave to Love," started up with an awkward dance sequence at Raquel's engagement party. April and Keisha tangoed across the ballroom with Jerry in an effort to convince him to take Val back. Is it just me, or was Keisha dragged across the dance floor in that gorgeous yellow gown? Dancing must not be her forte.
As she goes to change her outfit, Raquel discovers her fiancé having sex with another woman in their apartment and promptly puts him on blast in front of all their guests. And in perhaps the funniest moment of the episode, Keisha glides across the floor to catch Raquel's engagement ring after she tosses it in a fit of frustration. Of course, LisaRaye — er, Keisha — was not having that. "Oh, no. You earned this, bitch! Let's go!" And so starts Raquel's narrative as a woman looking to find herself as a "siiiinnnggglllle laaaddddy."
After two weeks, Keisha finally hears from Malcolm, and he explains the situation with the FBI and his ex-wife. The FBI came after them after some shady business with the mayor of Atlanta. Keisha forgives him, and they swiftly get it poppin'.
At one of April's events, though, Keisha is arrested for failure to pay $200,000 in back taxes. If she gives up Malcolm, though, the charges will be dropped. But Keisha decides to ride for her man. April and Raquel call Keisha's attorney ex-boyfriend (who cheated and had a baby by another woman) to get her out of police custody. After a heated discussion about their past, Keisha, rather quickly, hugs him and forgives. Her temper and oh-hell-no attitude quickly fade to black for the second time in the episode.
April has started dating again, but she can't stop fantasizing about a bald, chocolatey man. More eye candy? Yes, please, and thank you! After quitting her job and refusing to take an A&R job, she's now an Atlanta club promoter. (This career move didn't make sense to me, either.)
Single Ladies is VH1's version of (insert your favorite soap opera here), with just as many steamy scenes and dramatic plots and the soap-opera-y line delivery. (Every line is such a statement! "Let's just say it's pro bono. Let's just say it then!")
Perhaps the best acting in the first episode was during Antwan "Big Boi" Patton's short cameo as he clamored for a taste of April's sweet potato pie. Seriously. But the women are stunning. The men are fine. (Hello, Woodside, Rick Fox and Terrell Tilford!) The clothes are hot. Everything else is almost too painful to watch. Almost. (At least no one's throwing wine bottles or bullying folks for not being black enough, per VH1's other series, Basketball Wives.)
But as most guilty pleasures go, you'll tune in every week, just to "SMH," talk back to the TV and tweet along with all the other hate-watchers of the show. It's all in that so-bad-it's-good-but-terrible fun.
And the joy in following this show, for me, is watching it with other folks and hearing their commentary. So here are a few of my favorite tweets of the night:
Single Ladies appears on VH1 Mondays at 9 p.m. EDT.
Erin E. Evans is a writer in New York. Follow her on Twitter.