‘Single Ladies’: Episode 3 Review

A review of Episode 3 of VH1's Single Ladies after the jump.

This episode introduces the fifth lead character, Christina, Val's new intern. As played by Kassandra Clementi, she's a wild card who completely elevates the show by her mere presence. Clementi's performance is electrifying but it's not gimmicky or overplayed. It'll be fun to see how she works into the show.

Of the three episodes that have aired, this one is clearly the strongest suggesting that the show is finding itself, which is a good thing. But the stories are far too slight, I think, and the tone is still frustratingly inconsistent.

The Val story was pure sitcom. In a sitcom, the situation is the end, it is where the humor often lies. But in a drama situations like Val meeting a man who doesn't want to eat her out simply don't work if they don't advance a larger arc for the main character. This situation tells Val nothing and just wastes a fairly prominent guest actor like Darrin Henson in a dead-end role.

Keisha's Malcolm-testing-her-character plot is ripe for melodrama, but it all fell flat (mostly due to the lack of chemistry between Rick Fox and LisaRaye. People should stop casting Rick Fox in things.). It is kinda interesting that Malcolm is so intrigued with Keisha, but it would be nice to be shown why.

And we now know that April actually does have a job. She's an assistant to a record executive who wants to be an A&R executive. Not sure why in Atlanta, the capital of black music, she would find and try to sign a white rapper. I'm betting the writers thought a blonde white girl wouldn't be believable knowing how to spot talent in a black rapper. But it's feels 90s to have that white rapper be the stereotype of a suburban white negrophile.

Ultimately, I still think the writers are not quite sure how to write an hour-long drama, or are unwilling to just fully commit to the demands of hour-long drama writing. Single Ladies would work much better if the writers would just embrace the format and start thinking of the show as an ensemble dramedy. This would force them to spread the focus around, flesh out the characters – which both Malcolm and Darryl desperately need – and start building stories to arc over the course of a season.

Other thoughts:

  • There were actually a few jokes that landed this week. Omar's exchanges with Keisha are genuinely funny and Travis Winfrey and LisaRaye have a great comic rhythm.
  • I can't decide if the overly analytical, unemotional but supposed to be emotional outpouring from Darryl in the therapy scene is supposed to be read as the way Darryl is or just the writers not really knowing how to write genuine emotion. I could live with the former if the show started to develop that relationship in a way that let us know that Darryl is a little unemotional and distant.
  • The show is in danger of tipping Val's nice, naive personality over into idiot territory. I get not quite knowing how to approach a wealthy customer who hasn't paid their tab, but as the show played it, Val just looks like a bad businesswoman. Which isn't to say the show couldn't explore a woman who has started a business who is in over her head, but I just don't think that's the goal. Val would be a more three-dimensional person if her business was the one place where she showed a little spine or passion. Making her kinda OCD is shorthand masquerading as character development.


What did everyone else think?

About tlewisisdope

I write. I live in DC.
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5 Responses to ‘Single Ladies’: Episode 3 Review

  1. Sonia says:

    Like you I want to like this show and I have hope for its success, but arghhhhhh. Where to begin.
    Clementi was great! She knows how to set-up a scene, deliver a line and then steal it. She has far more beneath the surface than the other characters. In fact, Clementi, and the other secondary characters are fare more interesting and well played than the leads. I enjoy Malcolm, the gay assistant and even Rick Fox.
    Fox was more believable than Val will ever be. I mean can they hire a diction coach? Val is the typical pretty woman who has never developed a strong inner life because she has focused on the exterior. She is in the business of making people look good, her store is lined with windows all around… And this is the big divide between this show and SATC. The latter’s leads were all competent in their professions and in their thirties they had a fairly realistic understanding of who they were.
    I agree with you, LisaRaye does nail the funny stuff but everything else, not so much. The scene at the party with her and Chili was painful. Why would they use a reality star in such a scene especially with sub-par acting ability? And it is unclear how Lisa has so much access to this world. How would a video ‘actress’ have these relationships? And how does Lisa earn an income now? The whole real estate plot is ridiculous. If she has access, why would you choose a path that has so little income potential in this economy. The show does acknowledge the current economic downturn.
    What’s most surprising is how tense and uneasy the scene at the store was with all the ladies. Their rapport isn’t really that dynamic or developed. While April was particularly bad in this scene, she delivered in her white rapper storyline, and brought some depth to her character. Losing her deserved promotion for her marriage maybe the thing that cements her character and journey. Does she blame her husband or does she buckle down to carve out a career?
    At times it seems that the show is lacking a lead writer/creator. How can some scenes like the subtle nuances in the marriage counseling scene be in the same show with the Chili/LisaRaye millionaire scene?
    Tigger, maybe I missed it, but are the leads in their thirties or forties? This would give some perspective. Because reality tv and blogs have blurred the fourth wall this question is all the more relative with the two stars. As an equalist, a woman who believes in equality but not necessarily all the tenets of feminism, I want these women to be strong, capable and real representatives of women in 2000’s. Hey maybe bringing a life coach or psychiatrist in a recurring character could help the plot. Someone like Sherri Sheppard, lol.

  2. tigger500 says:

    Thanks for the comment. I agree.
    LisaRaye and Stacey Dash are both in their 40s. I think the actress playing April is in her 30s.

  3. Jane says:

    does anyone know a link where you can watch the episode (not vh1.com as i am not in US)

  4. DoctorLane says:

    Tigger, while I don’t have much to add about the substance of the show, since I’ve watched all of about 45 minutes of it, I think you and Sonia are spot on about the writers being unable to find a consistent mood and direction for the show. With so many different types of lead characters whose connections appear to be tenuous at best, it must be difficult to find a narrative arc for the episode and I imagine this will be a problem throughout the life of the season. They definitely need to find some glue to make these scenes fit together better. I’m not always clear on when this stuff is supposed to be happening or where. As an Atlanta native, I would also like to see more of my city. Where’s Val store supposed to be? And what type of money can LisaRaye make doing real estate in GA…. that’s funny.
    And a question for Sonia: what are the tenets of feminism? As a self-identified Black feminist, your distance from “feminism” intrigues me. I understand there to be so many types of feminists and so many feminisms and I wonder which feminism you don’t vibe with especially since you seem to be concerned with the same thing I am in wanting to see some capable, strong, and realistic women in this show.
    I’d add that I’d like women and men with depth and contradiction, and I’d love to see a woman who perhaps likes girls too in a non-sexist, not-for-male-pleasure kind of a way.
    One Love,
    “Doctor” Lane

  5. tigger500 says:

    Totally agree. Thanks for comin by!

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