Reality TV has begun to show how healthy Black love could look.
The ABC season finale of “The Bachelorette” aired this past week and provided a happy end for Charity Lawson. It was the first time, in 20 years, that a Black couple had left the show with a happy ending. Michelle Young and Nayte Olujoya, the “Bachelorette” of Season 18, who are both black half-sisters, announced their engagement in the finale episode before splitting up months later June 2022. Other Black contestants have dated or partnered with men from other races.
In an interview with People, Olubeko stated that he wanted “to do our best to demonstrate what beautiful Black Love can be.”
Reality dating shows are a staple of television for decades, but until recently, the biggest ones like “Bachelor”, tended to keep contestants of colour on the sidelines.
The tide has turned, however, as Black couples are now winning. In addition to Lawson & Olubeko, Tiffany Pennywell & Brett Brown said “I do” on the altar in the fourth season “Love Is Blind”, the Netflix hit series. The success of Black couples on reality dating shows has helped to dispel stereotypes about Black people and Black relationships.
According to Treva Lindsey of the Ohio State University’s Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies Department, while many scripted series have shown positive aspects of Black relationship, including Issa’s “Insecure”, and the 90s classic, “Martin,” reality television tends more towards racist stereotypes.
She said: “We all share stereotypes that Black women are unlovable, and especially for heterosexual couples, Black men date more outside their race than Black females.” “I think that, especially for Black audiences, it was affirming to watch the choices made by these couples.”
Brandy Monk Payton, assistant professor in Fordham University’s Department of Communication and Media Studies, says that black women are not only portrayed as desirable, but also have the agency to chart their journeys towards love.
She added, “And they don’t just react to people seeing them desirable. They are presented as objects affectionately in a very explicit way.”
The Browns are not only the most popular couple on “Love is Blind”, but they’re also the only Black couples to stay together at the end of season four. Contestants have to go on several “dates” before meeting each other in person and deciding if they want to get married.
Pennywell Brown stated that the show allowed them to be themselves and that she felt good about how well their love story was received.
They said that they had both seen positive examples of Black Love growing up. This gave them a good idea about what they wanted for their marriage. Pennywell Brown said that her parents, who have been married more than 35 year have “a healthy Black relationship where they have supported each other.” Her husband’s parents are married for 34 years. Both men said that the example set by their fathers was foundational.
Pennywell said, “Even though my father had told me, ‘I wouldn’t break up this family’, I was confident and trusted him.” “I wanted that when I was choosing my perfect man. It was the stability and strength. “I knew that the qualities I saw in my father and parents were what I was looking for in a partner.”
The couple who got married in May of 2022 said that they both realized the importance communication and vulnerability. Brown advised people to get to know others by asking them real questions, and not making assumptions. Pennywell Brown says Black singles need to be vulnerable, open and don’t be afraid of expressing their feelings.
She said, “I had no reason to fear telling Brett what I really felt.” Pennywell said that Black viewers also need more shows to promote healthy relationships.
She said, “We have shows to entertain us.” “Yes, you are right. We are funny.” We entertain. We love hard too, but we are also entertainers. “I think it is important that people can see the possibilities of love, even if you don’t live in a community or household like mine. You can watch TV and think, ‘I want love like that.