‘Single Ladies’: Season Finale Review

A review of the first season finale of VH1's Single Ladies after the jump. You can read all my reviews of the show here.

There's something really frustrating about the Val character – both how she's written and how everyone on the show responds to her.

For the first half of the season, we watched her cycle through a series of silly sitcom-style dates with men who had some flaw that made them undesirable to her. Then we watched how a mature, wealthy, deeply respectful man like Jerry could calm her down enough that she lost some of that childish nature that made her damn near insufferable in the first couple of episodes.

And throughout, Val was the character that everyone treated like the delusional chick who lived in a fantasy world. On some level, that's exactly who Val has been. But it was incredibly uncomfortable to watch the other characters suggest that Val breaking up with Jerry was a mistake. And not just a mistake, but a mistake that fits the pattern set by some of her earlier, irrational behavior.

Except not wanting to settle for a man who has a fundamentally different view of where a relationship can go is not a character flaw or a sign of some kind of delusion as some of Val's earlier decisions might justifiably be characterized. Suggesting otherwise is bizarre.

I get that we can't lose sight of Val as the hopeless, somewhat irrational romantic, but the show did a terrific job last week making us understand exactly why being with a man who wouldn't marry her just wouldn't work for her. Val's breakup with Jerry wasn't the melodramatic "put a ring on it" nonsense of the end of her relationship with Quinn. It undercut Val's growth tremendously for the other characters – and the show – to suggest that the end of she and Jerry put her exactly where she was when she ended it with Quinn.

But as frustrating as Val can be, she at least has been a part of a storyline that is interesting. Keisha and April are characters stranded in storylines that haven't been terribly well-constructed and are tonally inconsistent with the rest of the show.

And the primary problem with both women's stories was evident in the resolutions that we saw tonight – Malcolm and Darryl have never been sufficiently defined characters. They are men defined solely by their relationship to the women – boyfriend, estranged husband. Absent any motivation for their behavior, these men are just plot devices.

We know nothing about Malcolm's business and even though Rick Fox's character dropped lots of innuendo about Malcolm's deceit, we really still don't even know what the hell is going on with Malcolm. That's deeply problematic. And Darryl has been nothing but a cartoon villain from jump and I had actually been fine with the show just dropping his character altogether over the last couple of episodes. True to form though, his return was just completely and totally absurd.

As a result, neither storyline was remotely satisfying because there is just no way for the audience to get emotionally invested (though LisaRaye did a nice job trying with that great emotional, wordless reaction to the revelation that everything Malcolm has said is a lie). 

The problem with Single Ladies this season has been that the plotting supercedes character, rather than flowing from character. Val backslides with Quinn and undercuts some character development we've seen over the course of the season because it serves the needs of the writers who want to set up a cliffhanger. Similarly, feds show up looking for Malcolm not because he's done anything that we know, but because it sets up a cliffhanger for Keisha. And Reed works into his contract that April can be a junior A&R exec at his new label, rather than showing over the course of the season why she even deserves it.

It isn't that the show can't get to these plot points at all, but that they have to earn them. Very little this season outside of the Val-Jerry relationship has been earned.

I wrote a few weeks ago that I think the show would work better as an ensemble. In order for that to happen, every character needs to be fleshed out into a full-blooded human being, particularly the supporting characters. Christina has to lose the wild child randomness that derails every single episode, or we need to understand where that comes from. Omar's development over the course of the season has been interesting, but it needs to be ramped up and it'd be interesting to know if he does more for Val than just assist. 

But most importantly, the writers need to think less about where they want the story to go and more about how the characters will get them there. And that means they need to understand better who these people are and stay true to them.

We'll see how it all goes in Season Two.


Some final thoughts

  • Wait – April doesn't want to be an A&R exec anymore? So…what the hell has poor Charity Shea been doing all season? Please get her a better storyline next year, writers.
  • I really hated that Val blew Omar's spot up. It was so blatantly, patently the wrong move that I couldn't believe that Val would even do it. It was just an excuse to let Travis Winfrey play something different – anger – and set up a new relationship with Derek.
  • Speaking of, it's weird that the show always suggests that people can make total emotional turnarounds and prove their love by spending money. Derek wants to take Omar on a trip, so Omar isn't annoyed by Derek anymore? Everything is ok with Darryl and April such that she will give him half of her money? And the best thing about Jerry was that he is rich so Val made a mistake by not staying with him? All of this is incredibly troubling subtext.


What did you guys think about the finale and this season of Single Ladies? 

About tlewisisdope

I write. I live in DC.
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15 Responses to ‘Single Ladies’: Season Finale Review

  1. CC says:

    Yea- I don’t think I will be tuning in for season 2. This season was all over the place. Last night’s episode was nuts. And, is it me or was last episode a revisit of A Different World episode with Whitley, Dwaye and the Senator?

  2. Emoyeno says:

    Something to think about: the earlier episode Keisha left Reed’s party earlier to look for Malcom and see if everything was ok with his brother and the ex-wife salon… we never get to find out what happened??!!. On this final episode nothing ever gets mentioned while they were talking about Keisha selling her first house. Then Malcom goes MIA????

  3. Nancy Mercado says:

    April (Charity Shea) decides to quit her job as a personal assistant at her current record label due to her worth going overlooked. I did want her to quit her job… gives something to think about where the show will take this character.
    Now that April has some closure on her marriage to Darryl, where do you think life will take her? Do you think Reed could possibly be her next move?

  4. tigger500 says:

    I only vaguely remember that storyline in A Different World, so not sure.

  5. tigger500 says:

    Right. We don’t even know what it is that Malcolm did to break the law. That’s just not acceptable. We are just supposed to react to all the shadowy innuendo and feds ransacking his home. That’s just not enough

  6. tigger500 says:

    I think it’ll largely depend on whether Tyler Hilton will come back next season as Reed, but yea it does seem that they are setting up Reed and April as a couple. I can probably deal with that because Hilton and Charity Shea have nice chemistry, but April needs to become a three-dimensional character for me to care about anything she does.

  7. Emoyeno says:

    Is it all a set-up between Malcolm & the FBI Guy (forgot his name)? I mean, they did know each other in from earlier episodes.
    could it be that his Ex-wife dad is involved in the Japanese Mob? Is it drugs, are they smuggling diamonds? It does leave it open to many questions?

  8. tigger500 says:

    Right. I have no idea.

  9. Nancy Mercado says:

    I read another review… and I have to post it here too… ” When the episode began, Christina, sassy and inappropriate intern that we know her to be, was ribbing Val about her self-sabotaging ways in the men department. Christina was video-blogging her experiences working at V for school, and the gang decides to snoop on her and watch her previous posts. Why Val’s love life would have any bearing on Christina’s grade or any relevance to her education is beyond me, but it makes for some decent plot advancement. In one post (where Christina is fascinatingly accessorized in pearls and a cocked baseball cap), she calls Val’s love life “a disaster””….

  10. Nancy Mercado says:

    I forgot to give the credits about this post: http://blog.vh1.com/2011-08-08/single-ladies-episode-10-cant-read-my-poker-face/
    another great mystery:
    – what happened to her flunking? How didi she get her visa cleared? we never got to see Christina survive that problem.
    – She rides a motorcycle… can we get some shots of her actually riding it?
    – What does Val’s love life have to do with her grades?

  11. Nancy Mercado says:

    another question:
    – What will happen with Darryl & Val’s relationship, after things have settled for April?
    these are storylines that should be explored!!

  12. Nancy Mercado says:

    This clearly calls for more than 10 episodes all these questions. We love the show… we just need answers!!

  13. Does anyone know the song playing in the background during the scene were Jerry just broke up with Val, and Keisha is talking to Val. If you do please let me know, thanks!

  14. LaWanda says:

    I just read your review. Doesn’t seem like I miised much. I lost interest in this show ad=fter the 3rd-4th episode. I just grew bored with it and I didn’t care about a single(no oun intended) character.

  15. darci says:

    Does anybody know when Season 3 starts? All the articles I read just say sometime in 2013…I need to know now aaaaah especially since they left us hanging like that at the end. Hopefully sooner rather than later, I don’t think I can wait until next June!
    Also, loved the music in this season ender, especially the song that played when April says how she’s going to miss the girls, which I found out was “Best of Times” by a band called The Heaven Switch. Also was happy to hear MiaKoda’s “Better” play when Kaseem and Morgan are at the shop – Indulgence after their date, and “Turn In Your Bones” when the girls are at their apartment getting shoes for Morgan.
    Finally, got to say I’m really happy to see Keisha and Malcolm back together, sometimes it takes a break up to realize how good of a thing you have going and then to come back and appreciate it more. I wish them the best!

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