(The Root) — Rarely do I argue for taking a television show off the air. I honestly believe that there is something for everyone and there is a reason for the hundreds of channels that we now have, thanks to evolving technologies. The channels exist so that diverse audiences can be offered diverse programming. We all know that this doesn't always happen, given the onslaught of syndicated shows and never-ending repeats of current programming, but the possibility is there.
When it comes to television and other media, issues of taste and class often surface, particularly when people are deeply divided over what qualifies as high-quality programming (see message boards for all of Tyler Perry's movies and TV shows). It can be a slippery slope because someone's specific taste in entertainment should not necessarily be allowed to override someone else's taste.
And the same person can enjoy a wide range of programming. It is actually possible to like The Game and Downton Abbey, two very different shows. Besides, if there is a television show that you don't like, then you are free to turn the channel. Right?
Well, in all of my years watching and critiquing television, I have found a show that I feel has absolutely no entertainment value and should be taken off the air. What show is this? Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta, which is an example of when turning the channel just isn't enough.
This show, which I will no longer watch under any circumstances, even for purposes of reviewing, is truly a travesty: an exercise in men abusing and humiliating women whose self-esteem is so low that they would allow themselves to be mistreated for the purposes of stardom in the reality-TV world.
After learning of the "affair" — which she doesn't actually believe until Stevie J and Joseline present her with a positive pregnancy test — Mimi tries to save face by demanding a percentage of Stevie J's management and producer fees for managing Joseline. But even after this most recent public humiliation, Mimi is still willing to work things out with Stevie J — but not until he gets rid of Joseline. Really?
If that isn't enough for you, take a look at Lil' Scrappy and his Oedipal relationship with his mother, Momma Dee, who babies him to the point of crawling into bed with him. She also bullies Erika, the mother of his child, into doing things the way Lil' Scrappy wants them done.
Never mind the fact that Lil' Scrappy outright lies to Erica, pretending that he's interested in building a one-on-one relationship with her while pursuing a relationship with his "best friend," with whom he is clearly sexually involved. Add Lil' Scrappy and Erica's brawl with Stevie J and Joseline in a parking lot, and you've got a hot mess.
Has television boiled down to grown men (fathers) competing with each other over who has the most "baby mamas" and fighting it out (even though Lil' Scrappy is on parole)? The idiocy of it all is trumped only by the fact that this foolishness is on television in the first place. Is it really reality when a show's editors reportedly have to edit a fight scene and show it in bits and pieces to prevent a cast member from being returned to prison?
Which leads me back to my original point. There is something for everyone on television. However, the hatred that men on this show display toward women — not to mention the extreme violence, bullying, catfights and criminal and sexually irresponsible behavior — is intolerable. There isn't any love on the show, and little to no hip-hop, so I'm not sure why it's on the air.
The show is supposed to be scripted reality, but the script does nothing more than perpetuate the most damaging images of black folks by showcasing damaged people. That is called exploitation and abuse, not entertainment — and there is a difference. Turn off Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta, because black folks can't take another black eye from reality television.
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.