If you had asked me three years ago if I were interested in watching a reality show starring Evelyn Lozada, I might’ve cursed you out for disrespecting my eye sockets.
Lozada played an integral role in the success of VH1’s Basketball Wives and was arguably the star of the show. But she was as mean as a Disney villain more often than not. Mean as in telling the woman whose husband she bedded once upon a time while they were still married, “You’re a non [motherf—king] factor, bitch.” Lozada was also as violent as a UFC fighter, often leaping over tables to pounce on her detractors or tossing wine bottles at their heads in one of her multiple fits of rage throughout her time on the show.
She was like a Puerto Rican, professional-athlete-dating, version of Ursula, the Sea Witch, minus the singing voice.
It made for interesting television, but there’s only so long one can keep up with a shtick before it grows stale. Unfortunately, we never got the chance to see Lozada’s original spinoff, Ev & Ocho, following reports that her then-new husband, Chad Johnson, had assaulted her. Though I was not exactly a fan of Lozada’s, I did take issue with her Basketball Wives antics being used to justify her reported assault. This would include ESPN anchor and piss-poor commentator on social issues Stephen A. Smith engaging in victim blaming. Whatever Lozada did on Basketball Wives has no bearing on what allegedly happened in the car ride with her now-former husband.
Even so, with that criticism came an opportunity, and she certainly seized upon it. My initial reaction to Lozada doing Iyanla Vanzant’s Fix My Life was cynical: damage control and potentially parlay this “new Evelyn” into another television show.
In hindsight, motivation doesn’t matter.
I finally watched Lozada’s new series on OWN, Livin’ Lozada, and I—surprisingly, perhaps not so surprisingly—love it.
For the longest time, I thought of her as a jackass, too, into sucker punching people. Then again, her former reality vehicle never allowed for a fuller depiction of who she was. And also, maybe she wasn’t ready for one, either.
On Livin’ Lozada, Lozada is tackling her role as mother to a 2-year-old son and a 21-year-old daughter, itching to launch her own brand and take control of her own life. On this show, Lozada has to grapple with wanting to have more children, but realizing that at the age of 39, time is not on her side. Enter her revealing on the series premiere that she became pregnant, only to find out later that she suffered a miscarriage.
There is no pretense about the issue of Lozada’s temperament, either. She is working on controlling her anger issues, and in many respects she has done a good job. However, she still has her moments (as many of us do). I actually find her commitment to cursing profusely endearing.
For skeptics—including me—who wondered how Oprah Winfrey would manage to align her initial vision of the network with Evelyn Lozada’s having a show, the answer is clear: easily.
This is growth, only not riddled with self-help jargon or the brand of wisdom you find in the dessert portion of your order of sesame chicken. It is plainspoken and, thus, more digestible to viewers like me. If anything, Livin’ Lozada helps spread OWN’s message of self-empowerment, spiritual growth, yada yada namaste to smart-asses like me who otherwise might fly right by it on the channel guide (unless we’re talking Master Class).
By contrast, Basketball Wives: Miami is seemingly gone, and two of its stars—Shaunie O’Neal and Tami Roman—are joining Basketball Wives LA to essentially do the same old two-step. The two have yet to appear, but I already know what is coming. I’m yawning already.
If nothing else, Evelyn Lozada is offering something new. I did not expect to become a fan of hers after feeling the polar opposite for so long. It certainly beats the expected, though.
Michael Arceneaux hails from Houston, lives in Harlem and praises Beyoncé’s name wherever he goes. Follow him on Twitter.