The Lifetime network (which continues to want to carve out an African American audience of its own, given recent programming) has announced that it's picked up four new unscripted series to add to its primetime lineup, including a handful featuring black cast members.
They are, first: a complete makeover series titled "Girlfriend Intervention," which stars "four wise, poised and stylish African American women, who, in each episode, help a white sister seeking a complete makeover to restore her confidence and inner glow," according to the press release I received today.
Maybe someone reading this can explain to me what the mean by "white sister," because I'm not entirely sure what I'm supposed to understand here. Are they speaking in the spirit of sisterhood or womanhood, as in all women are sisters, regardless of heritage and skin color? Or is "white" being used as a synonym for a blank canvas, unsullied, pure, ultra-conservative? Or is it just as simple as 4 black women making over a white woman every week? Help me out folks...
Here's what the rest of the description reads:
Making over their wardrobes, beauty routines, homes and minds, they teach these women how to embrace and celebrate their lives, speak their mind, lighten up and love themselves again. Our four experts carry themselves with a great deal of pride, style and, most importantly, self-confidence. Where does it come from and how can it be obtained? Who better to teach a woman how to get that sparkle in her eye and spring back in her step? Each week, Girlfriend Intervention follows a woman whose personal space and self-esteem are in desperate need of a major makeover and a life-giving dose of diva inspiration.
So will the women who are, shall we say, "upgraded" by our 4 African American experts always be "white sisters" - whatever "white" means in this case? And assuming "white" is being used here in the most obvious sense - racial/skin color - what then do the above descriptions suggest about stereotypes and on-screen depictions of black and white women, if anything at all?
The show will be hosted by beauty expert Tracy Balan, home and sanctuary guru Nikki Chu, style and fashion maven Tiffiny Dixon and soul coach Tanisha Thomas, who help these women "break it down and tell it like it is."
The second series that Lifetime has picked up is a docu-sitcom titled "Kosher Soul," which follows "hip-hop tastemaker" O’Neal McKnight and his fiancée, celebrity stylist Miriam Sternoff. Here's how that program is described in the press release:
This is the swirl like you’ve never seen it before. Celebrity stylist, comedian, sometime performer and reformed man about town O’Neal McKnight is getting married to fellow celebrity fashion stylist Miriam Sternoff, who plays grown-up to his arrested adolescent. O’Neal is African American, from a very rural part of the south; Miriam is Jewish, from the northwest by way of upper-middle-class New York City; and her mom, who strikes terror into O’Neal’s heart, is insistent that their children be raised Jewish. So O’Neal, who had not always been the best boyfriend to Miriam back in the day, is converting in an effort to show he’s serious about marriage and his wife’s belief system. O’Neal and Miriam, and their cosmopolitan circle of Los Angeles friends, spare no sacred cow as they explore and poke fun at the differences in their cultures. We’ll watch emotions run high as Miriam’s family wonders how authentic O’Neal’s conversion is, and these two completely different people try to form a union and live as one. Will their love be able to survive?
And third is a reality-competition show titled "Threads," from the producers of ".
In addition, Lifetime unveiled three new shows it has placed into development, including what it calls an extreme dental makeover show titled "Smile;" a competition-reality series "Worst Stylist Ever," which pits America’s "most feared" hair stylists against one another; and "Ugly Models," a docu-series from rocker, Jon Murray, Jeff Jenkins and Gil Goldschein that looks at the world’s leading modeling agency focused on representing "unusual looking people."