For black professionals who do reality television, there often needs to be a middle ground in terms of entertainment value—as in, some kind of balance between Olivia Pope at a Jack and Jill banquet and Joseline Hernandez, inebriated and full of rage.
Anything besides shows like The Real Housewives of Potomac, which spent far too much time discussing degrees, pedigrees and musings on race largely shaped by a brown paper bag.
Bravo’s Married to Medicine perfected this last year. So when it comes to the question of whether or not we needed a legal equivalent of that show, the answer is yes. Oh, hell yes, if you’ve refused to stop quoting Maya Wilkes when the spirit moves you.
WE tv's legal-centered docuseries Money. Power. Respect. is definitely that companion show. Instead of doctors and doctors' wives, here, each of the women is an entertainment attorney with greater ambitions with respect to her career, clientele and bottom line.
The cast includes Dana Whitfield, who aims to transition more into artist management. Whitfield is married to Lord Jamar, who behaves exactly as I expected he would. There is Kelly Shapiro, who looks like “What if KeKe Wyatt went to law school?” She’s one of those “I didn’t come here to make friends” types and put her Los Angeles boyfriend on ice in the coldest of ways upon her move to New York City.
Another cast member is Kendell Renee Kelly, who has already given us a storyline molded after Changing Faces songs like “That Other Woman” and "G.H.E.T.T.O.U.T."
By episode 2, she has confronted her man, Glenn, after another woman he's been cheating on her with confronts her. What I like about Kendell is that she made an addendum to their lease that if Glenn cheated on her, he had to get out of her house within 48 hours.
After being confronted by the two women, Glenn doesn’t show any signs that he really gives a damn, but Kendell Renee, knowing that the cameras are rolling, continues to follow him. She probably could have kept the line “J.D. beats Ph.D., boo. Run that” to herself, but she wanted to sell this scene, so I appreciate the vigor.
The same goes for Kendell Renee taking an HIV test on air in light of the debacle she’s been placed in.
There’s also Nakia Thomas, who is friends with Glenn and thus isn’t exactly fond of Kendell out of loyalty to her cheating homeboy. And Wendy Credle, who has a son with Andre Harrell, and as an OG of the group, is quite forthright about restructuring her career and finances, since the abundant days of the 1990s are over. There’s one scene between the couple in the premiere when Andre quips that if she wants their son to stay in college in Paris (as opposed to at Howard), she ought to pay for it.
Last, but certainly not least, is Tiffany Ballard, who seriously looks like “Remy Ma, Esq.” Some of the women look down on her by claiming she’s too hood, but she’s the one who quickly calls some of the women out on their bougie and reminds them that she has an active clientele (unlike others on the struggle).
Now, based on some of the production value—notably the graphics, music used and so on—you can tell that the show has some involvement with Mona Scott Young. Don’t think of this show as anything like the Love & Hip Hop franchise, though. Yes, she's involved, but it's also another Black woman, Rhonda Cowan, guiding production. The end result is not just legal LHH and more along the lines of these are the people who might represent them after they end up on TMZ over child support, knife fights or brawls that started as beef in the comments section of the Shade Room but carried over to a strip club parking lot.
That is sort of how I see the network behind we TV in general. For so long, I only knew the network for Braxton Family Values, and my absolute-favorite soap opera, Mary Mary. However, there's a bunch of Negro-starring material there now. WE tv is like VH1's older sister, who kind of favors Centric and BET but is more fun to go to the club with ’cause she's less uptight about disrespecting the ancestors.
Money. Power. Respect. is a nice addition to that growing block. Please join me in laughing at these people. Money. Power. Respect. airs on Thursdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on WE tv.
Michael Arceneaux hails from Houston, lives in Harlem and praises Beyoncé’s name wherever he goes. Follow him on Twitter.