Commentary: Sorority Sisters Just MAy Change Reality TV...for Good

sorority sisters

Commentary: Sorority Sisters Just MAy Change Reality TV...for Good

One awful show could bring great things.

Published December 18, 2014

One of the first rules of protest: Hit them in their wallets. And this is why the online movement against a new VH1 show just may find success. As Mona Scott-Young’s latest production, Sorority Sisters, goes on-air, mega corporations are joining the little people in saying enough is enough with the foolishness that has become reality television.

In a TV landscape of good taste horrors too terrible to even fully list (from that Flavor of Love time Pumpkin hacked a loogie at New York to Ray J recently telling his girlfriend to go and assault his ex-assistant during the Love & Hip Hop Hollywood reunion), what could be so terrible to get so many advertisers on-board? The answer: lots.

Back in June, a petition went up on against the show, which follows nine Black women in Atlanta who are in sororities. It read, “Stop the spread of ignorance and stereotyping of our beloved Black Greek letter organizations. Our founders amongst EVERY organization worked extremely hard to allow us to unite and flourish not only on college campuses, but as a people well beyond our college days, and Mona Scott-Young now threatens to demolish those aims and goals we all abide by. If this show airs, we will boycott any and all advertisers affiliated with the show through commercial advertising, product placement and/or location use.”

Although the petition was just aiming for 25,000 signatures, 72,515 people signed. That makes more than 70,000 people happy to boycott big business and tell Mona Scott to knock it off. Yet that didn’t stop VH1 from airing the show this week. And while it gave any reality TV viewer what they’re used to, with plenty of name calling and weave slinging and faux-furious scripted confrontations, it wrapped it all under the guise of Black sorority life. It is like Real Housewives meets the early scenes of Legally Blonde, before Elle headed off to Harvard, with some African-American cultural legacies thrown in for good measure. And it is every bit as stereotypical as the petition feared it would be.

Viewers might be mad, but more importantly, advertisers are stepping up. Carmex and Hallmark are two of the biggest companies to say they are pulling ads from the show. Ava DuVernay has asked that Selma commercials not be shown during it. And others are following. VH1 has yet to comment and the networks website still has the premiere episode up in its entirety. But this support from advertisers may mean that reality TV finally has to wake up to the reality of Black people being fed up with how they show us. 

The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks.

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(Photo: VH1)

Written by Ayana Byrd


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