A New Form of Representation or Depictions as Usual?
Chapter 2. Docu-Soaping Black Women
DOCU-SOAPING BLACK WOMEN
Although there are several genres of reality television—each powerful in its own right—we focus on docusoaps because of their mass appeal. As discussed in the introduction, the docusoap is the most powerful form of reality television (Biressi & Nunn, 2005). Because of its format—similar to a documentary and soap opera and with a recurring cast—audience members are often invested in the docusoap characters’ storylines. This format with stories about Black women may have an especially powerful influence on the construction of reality and identity.
Our analysis takes place over two distinct time periods: the 2011 and 2014 viewing seasons. The year 2011–2012 is an important time for analysis because it was directly before the major Basketball Wives fallout. To reiterate here, there was an online petition calling for greater accountability of the representations of Black women depicted on the show. During the reunion special for Season 4, some of the cast members issued apologies for their behaviors (Huff Post TV, 2012). Moreover, in a summer 2013 issue of Upscale magazine, Shaunie (executive producer of Basketball Wives) discussed the upcoming fifth season. The women vowed to provide better representations on the show in what turned out to be the final season. From this incident, we know that negative images of Black women can be found in docusoaps. We hope to dig ← 37 | 38 → deeper and add further complexity to this discussion. Thus, one question we seek...
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