A review of episode five of VH1's Single Ladies after the jump.
Single Ladies seems determined to make Val into the worst kind of stock female romantic lead and ruin Stacey Dash, an actress who is inherently likable. Val is monumentally childish and invested in romantic fantasy nonsense no one over the age of 13 should believe. She plays numerous games and gets indignant because the men she's dating do not want to play those games. And she toys with the heart of a really good guy (Tilky Jones' KC, still giving the show's best performance) because he doesn't fit into her fantasy only to realize (perhaps) too late that he could be the person she should give a real chance to.
Seriously, there are few things I loathe more in popular culture than the way heterosexual relationships are portrayed. And Single Ladies is doing all of the things I hate most, including writing women to be irrational and manipulative for no good damn reason, yet portraying it like it's the most natural thing in the world, and making men always and only concerned about sex to the exclusion of everything else and … portraying it like it's the most natural thing in the world.
We are supposed to know that Val is completely ridiculous but we are also supposed to empathize with her because she's apparently had really terrible luck in the past. And because she's the lead character, I guess.
But the show never adequately showed us this. Val backed Quinn into not proposing and then the show copped out by making him a complete cartoon villain afterward, instead of actually treating his not wanting to marry her like something an actual human being might reasonably desire.
As far as any rational viewer can tell, Val is the problem in her relationships but the show doesn't really take that seriously, instead choosing to write her endless dates as flawless-on-paper-with-one-actual-flaw men who tell her exactly what is wrong with her only to have her disregard it because, well, they are men who just want to smash. 'Cause if you want to fuck, you can't possibly also see when a woman is playing games that shows like this treat like behavior that is written into the X chromosome.
Similarly, we are supposed to think the mano-y-mano battle between Keisha and Malcolm means they are perfect for each other, but really it's just tedious and silly. There is nothing about Malcolm that is remotely interesting other than the fact that he's played by D.B. Woodside in a performance that suggests he left all of his charisma in Sunnydale. And yes, we know, LisaRaye has a phat ass – and yes it is truly glorious – but is that really all that Malcolm can say to convince her (and us) that he's so magnificently drawn to her? And if it is, why the hell would we root for him to win her heart if all he really loves is that ass?
Single Ladies has to do better by its characters. It has to start earning the moments it is depicting and the characters really do have to grown and learn. Otherwise what's the point?
Some other thoughts:
- The show should start grafting some dimension onto Christina. Her wild girl schtick is random as hell. It could work if we knew why or if the stakes were high enough that Val is forced to actually be a real, live boss and handle it. But right now, it's just wasting time that could be spent developing the other storylines.
- Yelawolf, Miri Ben-Ari, and Tyler Hilton? Whatever.
- Charity Shea is not the least bit convincing as someone who knows anything about music, which is part of the point I know. But if April is going to inevitably turn Hilton's character into a megastar, the show better earn it. If you're going to set a major plot of a major character in the world of Atlanta's music scene, then show that world. Immerse April in that world. Show us the scene. Show us that April deserves this chance to be an A&R person in a real way other than her stumbling on Hilton and Ben-Ari collaborating.
- Let's stop acting like Puffy made tons of careers. He's famous for ruining every career he's ever touched, except Mary J. Blige, in order to build his own. He's a joke. He always has been. Acknowledge it.
- So Omar was out on the streets at 16. Tell me more!!!
- Random, but I love Stacey Dash's walk.
What did y'all think?