Coming Out Ratchet and Whole: Black Women and the Struggle to Just Be

  • Nikki Lane


Black women’s bodies and lives are subject to particular, daily forms of scrutiny in American society. This scrutiny happens at all levels of Black women’s existence and happens in both “private” and “public” domains. The realm of reality television and the vlogs, Tweets, and gossip blogs which revolve around the lives of their casts, offer a glimpse into the way that scrutiny is commodified. Combining the melodrama of soap opera with the potential for ratchet verbal jousting and even violent encounters, VH1’s hit “unscripted” (reality) television series Love & Hip-Hop and its spin offs Love & Hip-Hop: Atlanta, Love & Hip-Hop: Hollywood, and Love & Hip-Hop: Miami, feature casts that are almost entirely Black. In 2017, during what Business Insider referred to as a “ratings resurgence,” VH1 attributed their success to its slate of unscripted shows including Love & Hip-Hop: Atlanta and Love & Hip-Hop: New York, which secured the top two spots in the Nielsen ratings for unscripted shows. The executive producer of the Love & Hip-Hop franchise, Mona Scott-Young, is a Black woman who, through her success, has demonstrated that ratchet portrayals of “Black love” are extremely profitable. Each center on the love lives of prominent members of their respective city’s local hip-hop scene as well as ancillary figures in the Hip-Hop Nation such as managers, radio personalities, DJs, bar tenders, video vixens, strippers, ex-strippers, and fashion designers. The shows typically revolve around complicated love triangles, intimate betrayals, break-ups, and reconciliations between husbands, wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, exes, best friends, and side pieces.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nikki Lane
    • 1
  1. 1.Washington, DCUSA

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