Reality Bites: Basketball Wives

Sincerity, thy name is Evelyn.
Sincerity, thy name is Evelyn.

The NBA playoffs are in full swing, but because my favorite team (the Washington Generals) aren't in the mix, I decided to check out a b-ball-related reality show instead.

And I really thought this was the Generals' year.

It's interesting (to me, but I have notoriously low standards) to note that Basketball Wives is not VH1's first show about the spouses of professional athletes. Football Wives was canceled after one season in 2010. Never having seen it, I can't explain why VH1 axed that particular show after eight episodes and Basketball Wives is currently wrapping up its fourth season.

I have my suspicions, however, chief among them the fact that only one of the current crop of basketball "wives" is currently married. As we all know, married people are pretty boring.

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It's true, only one of the ladies on the show is currently in a state of matrimony with a professional basketball-type person. Jennifer is the ex-wife of NBA journeyman Eric Williams, Royce is the ex-girlfriend of Orlando Magic crybaby Dwight Howard and executive producer Shaunie has been divorced from Shaquille O'Neal for five years. The closest any can claim to current marriage status is Kenya, who's in the middle of divorcing Pepsi Caserta guard Charlie Bell. If this were an actual sports statistic, we'd mark her status with an asterisk.

What's also staggeringly obvious from all the bling, botox and Tahitian vacations is how few NBA players bother with pre-nups. Even so, I can understand Shaq's ex sitting on some tidy alimony, but does being Michael Olowokandi's former girlfriend really pay Tahitian resort bills? Being Olowokandi himself doesn't pay much, either (he retired in 2007).

But of course he's not paying. VH1 is. The reason these broads are able to do nothing but get their nails done and bitch at each other on an island paradise is the same reason those adolescent nimrods on MTV's Teen Mom look slightly less monstrously neglectful than they probably are in real life: Viacom has deep pockets. Why would anybody on any of these shows deign to get a real job? Following around a person who works for a living (unless that work involves deadliest catches or trucking on ice roads) is astoundingly dull.

Don't get me wrong, the Tahiti episode was probably a ratings bonanza thanks to the endless parade of enhanced bosoms.

Anyway. Basketball [ex]wives. Tami (Kenny Amderson's ex), Shaunie and Evelyn (Chad Ochocinco's fiancée...wait, what the fuck?) are trying to address "the Kesha situation." No, not the repugnant pop star, but rather the ex-fiancée of GS Warrion Richard Jefferson. Kesha evidently left Tahiti to go home last episode after Tami's bullying. I'm not sure what the "situation" is, except the manufactured drama that attaches to all these TV shows, like syphilis to a poet.

Jennifer and Suzie are talking about Kesha, too. Jennifer makes her second reference to visiting the Maldives. That, or "the Maldives" is what she calls her boobs. Oh wait, now they're talking about Jennifer's feud with Evelyn. The former is apparently lawyered up, and Suzie at least has the decency to look bored.

Tami: "I don't even know where the fuck the Maldives is." She also drinks beer with a straw. I suspect the two are related. 

Tami can't believe Kenya favors Hegelian rationalism over Kierkegaardian subjectivity.
Tami can't believe Kenya favors Hegelian rationalism over Kierkegaardian subjectivity.

Shaunie opens up the next morning with, "I'm feeling crazy today so I decided to get on a Jet Ski." Yes, because riding motorized watercraft in actual water is INSANE.

True story, we're about at the halfway mark of the show, I'm on my fourth second drink, when Shaunie and Tami make a Warriors reference. Specifically, "Jennifer, come out and play-ee-ay," complete with clinking bottles. I officially take back everything I just wrote; this is the greatest show of all time.

Kenya was a late arrival to Tahiti, and apparently the rest of the girls spent last episode hiding dead fish in her bungalow. She's either oblivious to the smell or refuses to be broken by Evelyn's Dolph Lundgren exterior. Or she's certifiably bonkers. Oh, and Evelyn once threw a bottle at her; this makes the aforementioned Warriors reference even more hilarious.

Kenya sort of accepts the apology, but they must revisit the incident. Evelyn responded with a hurled bottle when Kenya called her "loose," which according to Kesha means "full of life" and not "whore." Okay. A full five minutes pass as the other four debate Kenya's mental state.

Her instability established, they rehash Kesha's departure. And then Kenya decides to go fetch Jennifer, who has yet to leave her bungalow because of some other Evelyn-related incident. This turns out to be a bad idea, because...

Hey, you know who I haven't heard about in a while? Juice Newton. "Angel of the Morning" was totally my jam in 1981. I also remember her being featured in humorous fashion on Saturday Night Live:

"For what you're blowing on video games, you could own a Juice Newton album." That's good stuff.

Oh, all right. Uh, Evelyn decides to mend fences. Sorry, I probably zoned out a couple...dozen times during the third act. I'm not even sure what the hell they're arguing about, but in terms of importance I'm sure it rivals the Gulf of Tonkin Incident. And just like that, not much actually happened. Evelyn rants as Jennifer flees to her bungalow, but does it in a bikini, at least. So that's nice.

This is where I'd usually make some grand pronouncement about what a show like Basketball Wives says about our society, but it's pretty much the same thing we glean from Keeping Up with the Kardashians or any other reality program showcasing people famous for a brief association with someone more famous: How did we get so bored? I understand escapism, and I understand schadenfreude (indeed, I minored in it at college), but as my doubtless hilarious Juice Newton interlude indicated, the majority of this show was the very definition of tedium. These aren't uniformly terrible people, but neither are they remotely entertaining. Where again is the attraction to spending a precious hour of our dwindling lifespans yawning along as a bunch of nonentities complain about less than nothing?

Whatever. "Angel of the Morning." Give it a re-listen.


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