Reality vs. the real world - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Reality vs. the real world

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"Real Housewives of Atlanta," "Basketball Wives," "Love and Hip Hop" and now "Married to Medicine."  These reality television shows have a lot in common: They all have a majority black cast, starring women. People love them and love to hate them.

"Like oh my God, they're on TV and I can't believe they're making us look bad," Married to Medicine cast member Quad Webb-Lunceford said.  "I'm still the same person; I just have a different platform. I'm just on TV."

Quad Webb-Lunceford (known on the show as "Quad") stars on the new Bravo TV series "Married to Medicine." The show has been a ratings success so far, but before it even aired it was pretty controversial. As the previews made their rounds, so did a petition to get it canceled with thousands of signatures.

"I think that it's already expected for us to act a certain way and when we look at other races, they have not been coined to be the loud person or the person who may have an irate behavior at times or rolling their necks but they do. They do the same things we do," Quad said.

After seeing a fight scene in the previews, people wanted the show stopped because they felt it would shine a bad light on the black community and women.

Dr. Ladrica Menson-Furr is currently the Interim Director of African and African American Studies at the University of Memphis. She said she doesn't agree with the controversy, but she gets it.  "The idea of stereotypes particularly when it comes to African American women is a struggle that we've had for not decades but for centuries," Dr. Menson-Furr said.

Dr. Menson-Furr is no stranger to these shows.  She studies them on a scholarly level and watches many of them for entertainment. She said there's a fine line when it comes to whether or not these shows perpetuate stereotypes or are strictly entertainment.

Dr. Gail Murray teaches a course at Rhodes College on Black and White women in the South. For her, the line is not so fine, at all.

"Stereotypes operate on that. We sum up a lot of information from just an image or a quick label.  It's not fair but it is the reality. There's a long history to African American women in particular, feeling responsible for the image of the race," Dr. Murray said.

As for their portrayal on the big and small screen, Dr. Murray said the image of the "Mammy" or "Jezebel" was used to depict black women for so many years, that it will take many more to fight that stereotype.

"I think we like to think we're in this post racial society now, but we're not. People are still making assumptions about particularly class and race-- some still about gender," Dr. Murray said.

Dr. Menson-Furr believes viewers have three choices when it comes to these reality shows. She said we can either let them create stereotypes, combat them or perpetuate them. It's up to the viewer, but she says you can always change the channel.

"If we allow these forms of entertainment to say this is who we are, then we're helping to perpetuate the image. I think when you take power and you say well that's just one particular characterization that an individual has been cast and is being paid to perform then we're able to say, 'well this is not a true stereotype,'" Dr. Menson- Furr said.

Quad wants you to keep watching, but she said she also wants people to stop judging.  "I'm just living my life out loud. I will say instead of focusing on the negativity, there's a lot of positive in a lot of the reality shows," Quad said.

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