‘Single Ladies’: Episode 2 Review

A short review of Episode 2 of VH1's Single Ladies after the jump.

The good news this week is that Single Ladies feels like an hour of dramatic television.

The bad news is that the show confuses accelerated plotting for character work. Both Keisha and April are dealing with Episode 7 or 8 developments in their relationships. We really need to spend some time in these women's lives before everything falls apart.

I still have very little sense of who April is other than "white girl" and her relationship with Darryl means nothing to me since I don't know who he is either. And sure, I get that women obsess over the lack of a phone call after sex, but Keisha becoming neurotic over Malcolm in Episode 2 is so rushed as to be out of character.

Watching Single Ladies feels like having a conversation with someone in a bar who tells you all their business before you've even had a chance to take a sip of your drink. As such, none of the big dramatic moments in tonight's episode were earned, and it's likely why every actor simply couldn't make those moments work. 

That said, it is interesting to note that the budding relationship between Tilky Jones' KC and Val hits all the right notes all the time. Their conversations feel like conversations that these two particular individuals would have. In those scenes, Val emerges as the kind of lead character you could be invested in because the show allows her to be both disarmed by KC's charm and intrigued enough to let her guard down and just live in the moment. There's a rhythm and a warmth to the way Jones and Dash play those scenes that is fun. It gives one a real taste of what Single Ladies could be as a dramatic show if it bothered to spend some time developing character.

But so little else feels human here. The women are still woefully one-dimensional and speak in overly self-aware declarative sentences and the men are simply eye candy*. It's the kind of dialogue that bad screenwriters think is good dialogue because the characters get to say all the things that people wish they could say without feeling self-conscious about it. Except, people never actually say everything they are thinking and wanting. Our natural dialogue is filtered and tempered. Good dialogue recognizes this fact and understands how to use what is unsaid to tell the audience something.

But let me not undersell the good news, Single Ladies truly does more credibly resemble a television show. That, in and of itself, is important.

 

*I should note that Travis Winfrey, as Val's gay assistant Omar, is both beautiful and doing a great job avoiding making Omar into the stereotypical gay assistant. One hopes he gets something to do as the show develops.

About tlewisisdope

I write. I live in DC.
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15 Responses to ‘Single Ladies’: Episode 2 Review

  1. LMS says:

    i think this review is dead on

  2. coolwrites says:

    Tigger, this is a first; I actually disagree with you this time. I don’t see much improvement in this week’s episode. In fact, I wonder if this show would have been better if it were a half-hour dramedy.
    The writing isn’t so much accelerated as it is a mosaic of top shows with little to no true voice/tone for the show. I mean the bull-riding scene is directly from Sex and the City. Unfortunately, the little that is unique to the show is not really developed well. Since this is in Atlanta and the whole celebrity scene is central to the show, there is much that can be done with it beyond using it as a background. What commentary are they really making about it by not exploring it.
    But the bigger problem isn’t with the accelerated developments as much as it is with the shows inability to show rather than tell. They need a device to help them ground the characters’ past and motives. SATC used Carrie’s column, the Game while they stumbled a bit, used a variety of devices and Basketball Wives is totally blind to this concept. Single Ladies unfortunately is playing more like Basketball Wives than the other two shows. It would be nice if one of the characters voiced the show via a journal or began writing a book for which she has to think about their past or if one of the character’s life changed direction to give them a reason to have meaningful conversations. This would have been a far more effective way to engage the viewer than cramming loads of ineffective dialogue and meaningless scenes on the screen.
    WORST SCENE EVER: The ending scene with them trying not to talk about the men in their lives is simply too vapid for women who are presumably in their thirties. Is the show portraying vixens and hos, educated women, empowered women, complex women?

  3. tigger500 says:

    I don’t disagree with you. I do think the show is still deeply problematic, but I do think it’s a vast improvement over last week.

  4. Demetrius Bady says:

    I am one of the writers on Single Ladies. While, of course I disagree with almost everything you guys are saying, I appreciate the fact that you are watching. Television is always different things for different people and often times arm chair critics often make brilliant Monday morning quarterbacks. The truth is we live with the characters day and night for months at a time. We sit in a room for hours everyday putting much more thought than you know into what you obviously perceive as uninspired writing. Sometimes we get it right. Sometimes we don’t. But we damn sure try, every single time. Thanks for watching. Maybe next time?
    Demetrius Bady
    Writer for the “deeply problematic” series Single Ladies

  5. tigger500 says:

    Demetrius
    Thanks for stopping by and reading my review. I appreciate you taking the time to comment and talk about your work on the show.
    I do intend to keep watching the show and reviewing it, which I do because I don’t believe there is enough critical attention paid to black television shows.

  6. LSells says:

    Hey Demetrius,
    Just because you spent hours in a room with these characters doesn’t mean your audience did, maybe you should think about that! The show makes black women and just women in general look ridiculous with no pay off. The dialogue is Horrible, not witty or urbane, as was your comment. You don’t have to be a “professional” critic to notice, merely breathing. Stacy Dash is unappealing, and her act, ad well as her relevance, choppy. The sets look like some plantation out dated low rent backdrops. There’s nothing to identify with in any of the characters. So far the story lines are a direct rip off of SATC, so it’s already been done and much better. Oh and do these people ever go outside? The whole thing is just bad! Sorry but just because you’re working really hard doesn’t mean that us armchair critics need to put up with your amateur writing.

  7. tigger500 says:

    LSells
    I appreciate your comment, but let’s try to be respectful if possible.

  8. Michelle says:

    The writing is not the problem soem of the acting is, and sadly enough when a white woman and a black woman move the smae way sexually its not looks at eh same for white woman they are promiscuious of dating…blk woman are hoes or sluts..also Lisa Raye really needs training her acting is one note and it hurts the writing..Stacey Dash is good but she cant hold a show by herslef she not a leading lady of a show..what you need is a kick ass actress like myself..check my reel it will speak for itself..on you tube MichelleWalkerReel

  9. tigger500 says:

    I think the writing is as much a problem as the acting actually.

  10. Black Beauty says:

    I love the show it is entertaining and that is all that matters…these are characters on a nonfictional show….enjoy the drama and move on plus it is not a reality show so I am all in…lol…I will always support black movies, shows and sitcoms….I am happy I didnt have to wait to next week for a punch line or a dramatic scene…I:M GREEDY I get a buffet of food all at once…NOT THE LAME TUNE IN NEXT WEEK TO SEE WHAT HAPPENS….LAME AND OVER DONE….

  11. Nic says:

    I want to like the show. However, it fails weekly. The writing and the acting is horrible. It is like watching LisaRaye portay LisaRaye and Stacey Dash as the grown up version of Dionne from Clueless. I find nothing empowering about the characters. Val’s character is always beautifully dressed! The show progressive gets worst. I was very unhappy about the portrayal of Sharon Love and the storyline. It had such promise and was very disappointing…not sexy nor fun. It was an opportunity missed. To demonstrate that two women engaged in a romantic relationship isn’t always about being expertimental nor a fling. It has well presented the opportunity for the show to have some depth. I am waiting for someone to announce they have an STD. I feel like Tyler Perry is somewhere writing for this show. As much as I have always hoped that LisaRaye and Stacey Dash would get major roles, I believe I understand now. I think these women represent the physical hopes and desires of middle-class (Black) Americans. It feels as if they do not know who they are and are in dire need of therapy. Money and sex become the sites of their healing. When will we see a different portrayal? I have a feeling that this is simply what sells and it is sad because this show feels very undeveloped and although the actresses have children in high school and beyond they can only perform for a teen audience.

  12. Lisa says:

    I love the show I think it is on point its so multifaceted with a plethera of layers that me and my friends cant wait to watch every week each woman dealing with life love and their careers the punch lines are perfect everytime love how the women support each other and genuinely care for each other no catiness and insecure competition amongst themselves keep up the excellent work its about time we see positive beautiful black women on tv I know your getting alot of criticism but keep writing honest work

  13. Lisa says:

    I hope you’re as harsh on non black shows or in other words everything else on tv

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