BET’s new pseudo-reality series Second Generation Wayans sure has a lot to say about single mothers — and let’s just say it’s not laudatory stuff.
In last week’s debut, Craig Wayans’ ex-wife character was introduced. Before she was shown, the script made clear her contentious relationship with the star. In her first scene, however, the character, played by singer LeToya Luckett, was portrayed as loud, argumentative, and irresponsible. As the scene ends, Wayans goes as far as to apologize to his son Bronx for choosing his ex as a partner and co-parent.
The trend continued last night, when Craig — in need of child care on his scheduled visitation custody night — circumvents his ex and conspires with her current boyfriend (DeRay Davis, playing a pretty deplorable version of himself) to get her watch Bronx. (In an earlier exchange Craig’s ex tells him she wasn’t aware that he wanted her to keep their son that night and he says he didn’t think he needed to ask, since she’s his mother.) Davis says he can manage it, but then demands a fee to “take care of [Craig’s] ‘seed.'” He also intimates that Craig introduced him to his ex, as if he’d hoped to pawn her (and, by extension, their son) off on Davis.
Fellow viewer Marvin Perry quipped, “The whole exchange/premise is awful. They basically came off as if they swapped his son’s mother like we used to do with Nintendo cartridges.”
Baby mama drama is an old well. Comedians go to it often, and they find no shortage of tired tropes and exaggerated scenarios. In these instances, mothers have no agency. Their truths are silenced in a father’s pursuit of sympathy and/or laughs.
This has definitely been the case with Second Generation Wayans — and though the jury’s still out on whether the writers will infuse this co-parent character with nuance and make her less of a caricature, given her introduction, it’s unlikely.
This is the part of the post where I affirm the Wayans’ right to freedom of expression. If you’re expecting Beyond Baby Mamas to take them to task for being one of so few shows to feature a black single mom at all and to do so in a way that could be perceived as socially irresponsible, you’ll be disappointed.
This character — this entire co-parenting plot arc — is unsavory, but it isn’t completely implausible (in fact, since the show is loosely based on the Wayans’ real life situations, there’s probably a kernel of truth in it). It also isn’t a broad representation of black single motherhood as a whole. It’s one depiction. On its own, we’re happy to interrogate it — but what we won’t do is take offense to this character’s existence on behalf of all single moms. That would be an outsized response.
We will say that if single mothers choose to watch Second Generation Wayans, they should do so with a thick skin. Aside from the Luckett role, it’s pretty clear the writers aren’t above using single motherhood as a punchline. In another line from last night’s episode, a character bristles at the idea of acting gentlemanly in pursuit of a woman because “you know who likes gentlemen? Single mothers and old ladies.” Clearly, neither are desirable dating demographics.
Do you watch SGW? Have you noticed any of these issues already? If so, what are your thoughts? Weigh in below.