For this Semiotic T.V. Show analysis, I chose two shows (I will explain why later) Basketball Wives – the original Miami series – and Iyanla Vanzant: Fix My Life!
For those who watch Basketball Wives, the original Miami series, Evelyn Lozada is a T.V. personality we are all very familiar with Basketball Wives is a reality television show series that is televised on VH1. The cameras follow the lives of six women that are or were associated with NBA players and their involved in the “basketball world”. Some are wives (hence, the title of the show), ex-wives, engaged-to-be-married to basketball players, or “baby’s mothers”. The relevant cast members are Shaunie O’Neal (ex-wife of Shaquille O’Neal), Evelyn Lozada (ex-fiancé of Antoine Walker and now ex-wife of Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson), Jennifer Williams (soon to be ex-wife of Eric Williams), Tami Roman (ex-wife of Kenny Anderson), Royce Reed (mother of Dwight Howard’s son), and Suzie Ketcham (ex-fiancé of Michael Oluwakandi and mother of his children). Each of these women have different personalities which collectively, makes for good T.V. They all have their own hustle and use the shows to broadcast their activities and is using the show as a platform for them to expand their fifteen minutes of fame.
Evelyn Lozada is a feisty Puerto Rican woman from New York, currently living in Miami, and is the source of most of the show’s infamous drama. When the show first aired, she was a single mother who gave birth to her daughter, Shaniece, when she was only sixteen years old. She was once a welfare mother. Not only was she a single mother, at one point, she had to depend on the government for assistance. The controlling images associated with that of the welfare mother. The welfare mother is typically portrayed as an unwed mother who does not have a male figure assisting her, a lazy woman who cannot or does not work to provide for her children. This is evidence of the intersecting oppressions we discuss in class. “The image of the welfare mother provides ideological justifications for intersecting oppressions of race, gender, and class.
She doesn’t hold her tongue. She says what she wants when she wants, and has no filter. She has a bit of temper and hit her boiling point last season, causing her to nearby hurt a cast member. She is also known her promiscuity, which is why she had an altercation with that cast member last season. Her promiscuity ties into the controlling image, known as the modern day jezebel. It seems as though she does not care what others think about her sexuality. Towards the end of season and season 3, she and Tami Roman had issues because of her past with Tami’s ex-husband, Kenny Anderson.
A jezebel, women with excessive sexual appetites, is synonymous to whore or “hoochie”. Women who are extremely flirtatious towards men were also jezebels. During the slavery days, the white male assaults were seemingly justified because of the supposed sexually aggressive women. The modern day jezebels are women, like Evelyn Lozada, that do not suppress their sexuality. Video vixens, exotic dancers, and certain types of models are modern day jezebels. The difference between the two is that now, women are proud of their freeness. It is no longer suppressed.
The themes represented in this television series are fame, money, glamorous lifestyle-living, extravaganza, fashion, independence, and motherhood. All of them are Black women (Evelyn Lozada is afro-Latino). They are portrayed as being high maintenance and materialistic, messages that media constantly and consistently pushes in front of us. The media uses things like CDs, films, and television shows (reality TV, included) to perpetuate these controlling images, today. Popular culture promotes it and popular culture consumers, knowingly or unknowingly embraces it.
Iyanla Vanzant is a motivational speaker, spiritual leader/counselor, and life coach. On her show, airing on OWN Network, she assists people who want to make a change in their lives for their own well-being. They see that the lives the lead may not be the most positive, so they want to change their lives and she guides them through the first steps on the road to health, overall well-being, and positivity.
After watching herself on season four, Evelyn Lozada realized her behavior on Basketball Wives is unacceptable. She stated in various interviews that she had an epiphany when she watched herself on television with her stepdaughters. It was the episode when threw the bottle at Kenya, a woman who was maliciously speaking ill of Evelyn and her promiscuity. She said that her stepdaughters laughed and that it was funny. She, on the other hand, was extremely embarrassed of her behavior. That was a pivotal point for Evelyn. She appeared on two one-hour-long special on Iyanla, Fix My Life! In first episode, she talked to Iyanla Vanzant about her character on Basketball Wives and gave a little insight to her relationship. She was subject to many inquiring questions by Iyanla. Questions about the sincerity of her relationship with her then husband, Chad Johnson, questions about her upbringing, which gave us, the viewers, a little more understanding as far as her temper and how her upbringing plays a part in her temperament. Iyanla Vanzant gave her spiritual counsel and pulled many emotions out of Evelyn. Evelyn talked about the hardships she faced when she had her daughter. She also talked about her fear of failure. She explained to Iyanla that she is the first person in her family to reach the height that she has reached. She is now on this public platform, in front of the world, and doesn’t know what to do or think. She is afraid. One of the most important things Iyanla was able to pull out of her was accountability for her own behavior and her own actions. The lesson was that drama surrounds those whose attitudes or energy exudes drama. You get what you put out there. Iyanla also told her that everything she’s done is going to cost her something and that something, she is going to find out, eventually.
The second episode came after the altercation that eventually led to the assault on her from her then, husband, Chad Johnson. At the end, she realized what her behavior cost her. Going back to controlling images, the media perpetuates the bad and shed very little light on the good. These controlling images justify the stereotype America has about Black women. And because of this, people feel the need to embarrass themselves on television just to stay relevant, even if it will cost them. I am glad that Evelyn Lozada realized her behavior wasn’t the best, wants to change, and use her platform to be a better role model, which could help (even a little bit) to change the stereotypes of Black women in this country, as well as transnationally.