Lifetime debuted a new reality makeover show Wednesday (Aug. 27) called “Girlfriend Intervention.” It’s probably too offensive to call it “Black Eye for the White Girl,” but that’s maybe what they should have gone with, because the show is kind of offensive.
The premise is that inside every white girl is “a strong, black woman ready to bust out,” so “Girlfriend” stars Tiffiny Dixon (fashion), Nikki Chu (home decor), Tracy Balan (beauty) and Tanisha Thomas (“soul coach”) are here to help these BWs (basic women) find their inner black woman.
The problems with that premise number many. First of all, what made “Queer Eye” so fun and not offensive is that the men were there to help in their area of expertise and they all happened to be gay. That was the hook. It was taking a straight man and embracing his life while helping him polish things up a bit, like wearing snappier outfits, learning how to cook, adopting better grooming techniques. But it wasn’t the five guys trying to help straight men find their inner gay man.
On the show, the makeover artists aren’t embracing the women’s lives. In the second episode, one of the BWs is chastised for her love of Harry Potter, because no self-respecting black woman would be into Harry Potter, apparently.
Except there are plenty of Harry Potter fans from every race all around the world, plus there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being enthusiastic about something you enjoy. So, that’s how it offends me as a BWW (basic white woman), because I just want to be me bein’ me and you can be you bein’ you and that’s great for both of us.
Where I imagine this show might be offensive to black women is the fact that they are once again being relegated to the role of “sassy black friend” to the main (white) character. The four makeover women aren’t the focus of the episodes, not really. The focus is the dowdy white woman they find to make over. And they aren’t allowed to be anything but loud and sassy, with the stereotypical finger snaps and head shakes.
I am not a black woman, so I cannot say for sure, but I’m guessing that might be kind of offensive to the black female viewers out there.
Then there’s the fact that the show generally feeds into the idea that there’s a way to “act black” and a way to “act white,” something that pervades every corner of this country. Why can’t a black woman like Harry Potter? Why does a white woman strapping on heels and getting dolled up mean she’s “finding her inner black woman”?
I’m sure a lot of people will find this makeover show entertaining and funny. It is certainly not devoid of fun. Tiffiny, Nikki, Tracy and Tanisha seem like lovely, engaging, intelligent women, but that means they also seem too good for this show.
What did you think of “Girlfriend Intervention”? Leave your thoughts in the comments.