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Tag Archives: Lifetime

Not sure how to feel about: “Girlfriend Intervention”‘s black fairy godmothers

by SweetMidlife

I’m afraid this “Lifetime” might be wasting mine.

Leslie here!

Because I write about entertainment, pop culture, and various entertaining goings-on and hooha, I have a lot of interest in news about upcoming movies and TV shows, both for professional reasons, and because I like knowing what on the horizon might be worth interrupting my steady stream of “People You Do NOT Want To Meet In An Alley In Any Lighting Situation For Reals” on Investigation Discovery (this is not a real show, but you know you’d watch it. Heck, I would.)

You know what is a real show, or at least is going to be? “Girlfriend Intervention,” Lifetime’s new “Queer Eye For The Straight Guy”-esque deal that substitutes pulled-together, savvy (and likely sassy) black women for the pulled-together, savvy and sassy gay men. This is how the press release describes it:

“Four wise, poised and stylish African-American women, who, in each episode, help a white sister seeking a complete makeover to restore her confidence and inner glow.”

Umm…not so fast there, Lifetime Television For Co-Dependents. On the one hand, it’s nice to see a network that considers black women the go-to for style and refinement, unlike, oh, pretty much every other network. (As the home of the black “Steel Magnolias” remake and the Fantasia movie, it’s clear Lifetime values black women and the women who like them as an audience, without weave-pulling).

And if “Girlfriend” matches “Queer Eye” in tone, any tough love and joshing at expense of those being intervened upon will be worth it at the affectionate and successful reveal. I like encouraging togetherness among women (I’m looking at you, Bravo’s “Real Housewives of Ethno-Cultural-Class Stereotypes and Public Shaming.”)

But…(and you knew that there was one)…I’m not sure how to feel about so much of it, because the premise deals in some mule-tired stereotypes that I’m not sure are a good look on anyone. Even the title makes my teeth start itching, because it reminds me of white strangers who, upon meeting me, suddenly go “How you doin’ girlfriend?,” in some weird Southern/Brooklyn/imagined black person accent when I swear I just heard them speaking in proper English sentences that ended in consonants before they turned to me. Umm, one day I might be your girlfriend, as in your good pal. But let’s start with “Leslie,” OK?

Here’s the other thing – that “girlfriend” stuff opens to the door to an otherness that’s at the root of every other comedian on “Def Jam” – the “black people be like this and white people be like this” thing. And yes, there are some truths in all stereotypes, whose exceptions don’t become apparent if the only people that you encounter from another groups are the ones you see on TV. And continues a really, really lazy trope seen everywhere from “Ghost” to “The Help” – that black women exist mostly to teach you a lesson, make you grow as a person and heal your aching heart, until your soul glows and they get back into their magic Escalade and go off to save some other white people, like Atlanta Mary Poppins.

Then there’s the weird message that white women are somehow obviously more clueless about body image, style and getting-it-togetherness than black women, because I know some dang fine white women who are actually my personal “Girl, what is wrong with your nails?” patrol. Is that OK? And how come these “Girlfriend” folks aren’t helping black women, or Latinas or Asians or Native Americans? Is it assumed that we don’t need any help? (Because I don’t want to get too personal, but if I go too long between pedicures my husband starts making random references to “getting that talon attended to.”)

I have a lot of friends who are black and white and Latin and biracial and Indian and Sri Lankan-Australian and Jewish and atheist and whatever else you’ve got. We all help each other. Some of us have strengths that fit stereotypes, and some of us defy definition. We do for each other not because of some ethnically-defined mission to meddle or swoop in. We are friends. We are not each other’s staffs or acolytes or fairy godmothers with no lives other than the one in which we’re of service.

I am gonna check out “Girlfriend Intervention” because I kinda have to now, don’t I? And also because it could prove me wrong. I thought “Queer Eye” was going to be full of gross stereotypes, and although it sometimes was, it was also bold, sweet and gave the world Carson Kressley and my food boyfriend Ted Allen.

I just wish it didn’t have to be another show about clueless white people and the magic black people who live to help them. Because as my husband – sisters need help sometimes, too.

Why Steel Magnolia’s ratings were so high…or please make more movies for adults. Thanks.

by SweetMidlife

Who’s that writer? Who’s that writer? It’s Les! (Shout out to my New Girl fans!)

The Lifetime Television For Sadists Women remake of Steel Magnolias, featuring an all-black, mostly-star cast, brought in crazy ratings for the melodrama-loving network on Sunday – the third-largest audience in its history, somewhere behind that badly acted, badly written but still oddly sob-inducing Fantasia Barrino auto-bio-pic. Like the Fantasia movie, critics frigging hated it. They thought the acting was mostly great, especially Alfre Woodard and Phylicia Rashad, but that the transition from the 1989 big screen version (itself a play originally) to the small screen and the 200s was not smooth. And Shelby came off like a giant self-important nag, didn’t she?

Obviously, nobody who watched it cared. Even if they did, Nielsen got them when they needed them. I imagine that my friends in media will wonder why such a badly-reviewed and not entirely successful film did so phenomenally. The wringing of hands and the not-so-subtle condescending disapproval of the Pablum-loving masses is sure to follow.

But without having to do a bit of research, I can tell you why. And it’s the same reason that Fantasia, and Tyler Perry movies, and Army Wives, and Diane Keaton movies, have been hits, even when they aren’t that good:

Because normal, adult women like to see themselves, or at least people who resemble themselves, on TV. They are tired of being made to understand that a 45-year-old woman can play the mother of a 30-year-old guy because women over 45 can’t actually have been the guy’s GIRLFRIEND, while Sofia Vergara and Al Bundy are a thing on Modern Family. They like a show about friendships, about real people like Fantasia overcoming the worst kind of setbacks, even though she’s a bad actress and almost didn’t succeed in playing herself. They love her anyway, and they love her story. And they love imagining that men fight over Diana Keaton, because she’s hot. They don’t believe that being over a size 8 makes you a heifer or unworthy of love. They don’t believe that non-white women have to be the quirky best friend or the secretary or the noble what-have-you that teaches the white women about love or sacrifice. And they don’t believe that you have to look like Kerry Washington to deserve hot sex.

Steel Magnolias, no matter who’s in it, is not emotionally complex, ironic or glib. It’s straight-forward in its manipulative emotionalism, its brave diabetic moms and grieving families. But it bears a heck of a lot more resemblance to a lot of grown people’s lives, even in its sweet pink haze, than a thousand episodes of Grey’s Anatomy or The New Girl or what have you. I like escapism. But I also like some earnest goofiness where a guy moves into town to be with Alfre Woodard, because why wouldn’t he? She’s fierce! And hot black actresses who play the second banana in other instances get to be the hot, pursued star of Tyler Perry movies, even if they have to be in Tyler Perry movies for that to happen.

Hollywood…perhaps if you made more movies and TV shows with diverse leads, about fundamental human stuff that didn’t have to be edgy or complicated, you’d have more ratings like that. Just saying.

“Dates From Hell” and why I’m glad I don’t have to date anymore

by SweetMidlife

Leslie here!

I look at that above title and think that it might sound a little smug, like “Ha ha, single people! I got me a man! Suck it and go hug your 30 cats!” If you know me, however, and know of my dating history, or have read my amusing recollections of some of the ridiculous things I got myself into as a single lady, you know that’s not smugness. It’s relief. I was so bad at dating that if that had been my NFL career, somebody would have forced me to retire, because I sucked.

Watching Investigation Discovery’s new true crime series “Dates From Hell” not only confirms my relief at not being out there, but makes me super happy that I never got kidnapped or abducted or, in the case of at least one gentleman on the show, lured by a failed male filmmaker pretending to be a hot girl into an attempted murder based on one of his scripts. Dating requires a certain amount of bravery, of putting your trust in someone you don’t know,  even if  it’s just for the length of a dinner. “Dates From Hell” basically says “You can’t trust anyone! Not that person on the other side of that dating profile, or the girl flirting with you from across the bar, or even your co-worker you’ve known for years. Because you have never been to his basement. Where there might be heads in a freezer.”

Which is not to say, however, that the folks on the episodes I watched didn’t make some critical dating errors that old pros like me have down, although I admit that a few times I violated them. And every moment that I did, I was uncomfortable thinking “I am gonna be a head in a basement.” On one show, an American tourist accepts a drink from a cute Italian artist and then an invitation back to his apartment to see his terrace in Rome. This resonated with me, because while visiting Venice my great-Aunt Martha tried to get me to accept the coffee invitation of our waiter, and I was like “Are you trying to get me on a Lifetime movie called ‘Coffee Date With Death: The Leslie Streeter Story?’ I don’t know him!”

Anyway, the woman leaves the bar without telling the friend that she was traveling with where she was going, in a city she’d never been in. Bad idea. And then she went to a stranger’s home. Even worse. Of course, none of that gives the guy permission to try to sexually assault her, and in no way was she “asking for it,” because who in the world would ask to be sexually assaulted? Is that on a to-do list? Shut up. And the guy who answered the ad from the fake lady did not, of course, deserve to be dragged into a garage and beaten up by a guy pretending to be a hot blond. He just wanted a date. But…public places, people. Meet in a public place. If you do that a few times and then decide they probably aren’t mass murderers, then maybe you can go to their homes. During the day.

Like I said, I didn’t even adhere to my own rules all of the time. I once met a Match.com guy at his house – fortunately, neither of us were remotely attracted to each other and had an awkward dinner nearby before saying quick goodbyes and jetting off into the sunset alone and with my head attached. And I admit to making out with a cute Irish guy on a weekend trip to South Beach, in a situation where he could have turned out to have been a rapist, on some sort of Interpol list or an international car thief. (He turned out to be just a very drunk Irish guy.)

The vulnerability of dating, of meeting new people, is bad enough without thinking that every profile or offered drink is masking a trip to starring in your very own “Dateline NBC” episode…as the victim. So…single people….be smart. But don’t watch this show. Picking a profile photo is scary enough.

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