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Black Women in Reality Television Docusoaps

A New Form of Representation or Depictions as Usual?


Adria Y. Goldman and Damion Waymer

Black Women in Reality Television Docusoaps explores representations of Black women in one of the most powerful, popular forms of reality television – the docusoap. Viewers, critics, and researchers have taken issue with what they consider to be unflattering, one-dimensional representations. This book discusses images of Black women in reality television during the 2011 viewing year, when much criticism arose. These findings provide a context for a more recent examination of reality television portrayals during 2014, following many reality stars’ promises to offer new representations. The authors discuss the types of images shown, potential readings of such portrayals, and the implication of these reality television docusoap presentations. The book will be useful for courses examining topics such as popular culture; mass media and society; women’s studies; race and media; sex and gender; media studies; African American issues in mass communication; and gender, race and representation, as well as other graduate-level classes.
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Chapter 5. Black Motherhood




“I may not be the best mom but can’t nobody say I didn’t try.”

— Momma Joyce, Kandi’s Wedding.

Even within docusoaps in which the women were not mothers (e.g. Bad Girls Club: Chicago and Blood, Sweat, and Heels), the importance of a mother figure is communicated in some of the women’s interactions. This theme was more apparent in the 2014 analysis than in the 2011 analysis. Geneva is shown video chatting with her mom while they discuss relationships and her career. Her mother offers advice and guidance. In a different episode, Geneva’s mother convinces her to attend a dinner with the other women that was being held to relieve existing tensions. Daisy’s mother comes to support her daughter at her business event. During family day on Bad Girls Club: Chicago, Blu was very excited that her mother was one of the guests who came to visit. The two appear to have a close relationship. Although the main cast does not include mothers, the influence and supportive nature of motherhood are exhibited.

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