OWN’s Black Love Docu-Series, A Review of Episode One

If you watch Maury, black love is dysfunctional, careless, and rooted in lust. The same can be said for many other “reality” television shows from court series to VH1 shows that anchor themselves in portraying the black man and black woman as hyper-sexual entities incapable of functioning in their shared state of incivility.tenor

The black woman is often depicted is mentally unstable, hyper-sexual, and evil— a force that emasculates the black man and prompts his desire to crawl back into the womb via sexual promiscuity. The white media consistently portrays the black woman and man as two pieces of a puzzle that just cannot fit together.

Enter producers, and black power couple, Tommy and Codie Oliver and their docu-series Black Love. This OWN documentary does not function to extinguish the stereotypes of black love, but to prove its possibility and vitality–deeming the documentary a well-executed pro-black initiative.

The documentary surfaces at an interesting time time–a time where injustice is blatant and inevitably hard to ignore—prompting many to get involved in protests, organizations and other means to confront cultural conflict. As a result, the revolution is often over-simplified as focusing on a single issue and overlooking the power of who you choose to love.

black-love-matters-sportswear-trucker-capBlack love is an understated revolutionary act dismissed in the contemporary world’s colorblind initiative guised as the antidote to contemporary conflict. This initiative not only inevitably imbues black erasure, but reflects the mental bludgeoning of the black mind that proves a platform for systemic abuse of the black body.

In merging the black body together romantically, the black collective incurs dual conflict—but in turn becomes stronger as a unit.

To say yes to black love is to don the strongest armor in confronting racism. To embark on black love is to ignore all the self-hatred embedded in society and choose to love yourself. It is to see the best in blackness when every aspect of western culture prompts blacks to see the worst in themselves. To choose black love is to refuse to enter the white man’s house through the back door—to build your own house that is large enough to walk through the front door with your head held high.  black-love

Black love is an understated revolutionary act and for this reason the Codie’s documentary is not only greatly appreciated, but a cultural necessity.

The docu-series features multiple black couples—most of which have been together for at least a decade. This fact alone is a testament to the ability of black love to function despite the racial climate of North America.

The couples that proved the most resonant to me were Cory and Tia Hardrict, Viola Davis and Julius Tennon, and Meagan Good and Devon Franklin. Here’s why:


Viola and Julius, like Tia and Cory illustrate the non-glamorous facet of black love. Viola’s recollection of informing her soon to be husband of her bad credit was comical but also very honest. Whether its “bad” credit, a “bad” romantic past, “bad” finances,  or a “bad” familial structure— the black body commonly has a severed relationship with conventionality—so “bad” is a given. It is often this “bad” that drives a wedge between blacks—due to an inability to conceptualize how American culture is designed to deteriorate both the black individual or the black collective with concepts like “bad.”

I similarly enjoyed how Tia and Cory shared their humble beginnings. Specifically, Cory shared that he did not have a lot of money when he and Tia got married or when they began dating. The black woman out-earning the black man is a cruel truth and strategic means to implement black female success to emasculate the black male. Therefore, Tia and Cory depict the ability of black love to unit despite circumstances the exist to divide them.

mgdftmchAlthough conventionally successful at the time of their initial meeting, Meagan Good and Devon Franklin illustrate the significance of stepping outside of your comfort zone as both had sworn off attributes that defined their future spouse.

Also, Meagan Good— as a black woman extolled for her beauty—illustrates that external beauty is not necessarily a gateway to finding love. Rather, love blossoms when an individual is valued for their inner beauty.

Good’s husband, Devon Franklin delivered the docu-series most resounding line with the following:

“As a single man I was good, but as a married man I’m great.”

devonmeganwed_23271dde43c7b3b3ac894006654bd890.nbcnews-ux-2880-1000.pngHe also goes on to say that many men feel as though they must conquer the world prior to marriage, but dispels this idea by saying that men can conquer the world with the right woman. For black men this “right” woman is a black woman.

Furthermore, black love not only improves the individual, but elevates the black collective. Together we encompass the necessary strength to conquer the world.

For this reason, the black woman in an interracial relationship was the low of this docu-series, as it depicts weakness in an otherwise distinctive portrait of black strength.

Two other points of criticism, are colorism and the absence of the intersectional existence. Colorism is an obvious component in the series, in that a good portion of the couples feature a racially ambiguous woman, or a woman whose complexion is the binary opposite to her partner’s hue. This is a portrayal commonly seen on sitcoms, and films depicting black people—which embeds the ideology that lighter skin makes women more desirable. This colorism facet is perhaps most prevalent because the couples are products of Hollywood, where the paper bag test is alive and well–especially for black woman.  test-baf

Featuring Hollywood couples, or a facet of a Hollywood subgroup like producer, writer, etc functions to humanize couples that we as a collective have grown to love over the years. However, I do think the docu-series’ motif is perhaps best implemented by “every-day” couples of various professions and circumstances, as black hollywood couples, while bearing resonant and uplifting anecdotes, caricature blackness in a bubble of entertainment in a way that non-Hollywood couples do not.

It is also very important to note that while black on the outside, these Hollywood couples do not live a life common to the average black person, and may not even consider themselves black aside from going for roles designated for black people. Thus, this depiction, although surely well-intentioned, makes the docu-series depiction of actual black couples mannequin-like and less palpable.

The docu-series also omits same-sex black couples, disabled blacks, black couples crippled by poverty, and elderly couples—to name a few identity intersections absent from this portrait of black love.  Because blackness is all-encompassing, it is imperative that we include as much from our faction as possible to ensure that other subgroups do not seize those of our collective for their own selfish gain. Knowledge is also an essential component of black esteem. Cognizance of the many folds of blackness functions to enlighten the black collective to all that they are—it is said knowledge that thwarts the western idea that blacks have and are nothing.

6bfb6ac4f758512be8fb8115c9b08d22--african-american-art-african-artNevertheless, the docu-series elevates black love from obscurity to a seat at the the table of contemporary conversation, educating an eager audience to the value of black love. The series also prompts a discourse for determining what exactly black love is.

Defining black love is subject to interpretation, but it is of great significance that we as a collective understand that black love is far more than two black people in love.

Two melanated people in love merely breeds an assimilatory lifestyle in which blackness is a happenstance not a beloved marker of those destined to fulfill a higher purpose. Black love ensures that we as a collective not only physicaly survive, but mentally thrive.

Black love a beautiful struggle, a purposeful endeavor, an undervalued union.

How would you describe black love? And, do you have a black love story?

Black Power ❤






11 Comments Add yours

  1. kelley says:

    Black love is beautiful/necessary/everything.

    Great post, C.C. Thank you. I’ll definitely be checking it out.

  2. I’ll have to check this out. I did see the trailer for it. It looks pretty good. My parents have been married over forty years. You don’t see that too much nowadays. I think it’s pretty impressive. Thanks for the great post CC.

    1. I think so too. Congrats. Where did they meet? What impact did their union have on your vision of love or romance as a black man? (If I may ask)

      1. Actually they met in college. They hit it off and been together ever since. I know a lot of us don’t seem to believe in love anymore. It can be hard in the dating scene right now. And the media doesn’t help matters by purposely trying to keep us apart. Black love is very dangerous in this current agenda. Self hate is instilled in us very early in a racist society.
        But I think seeing my parents love gives me a different perspective. I grew up seeing a black man cherish his wife. As well as buy her gifts. I’ve seen my mother give him words of encouragement when he was felling down. Not to mention the longevity of their relationship. So I know black love can work and does exist. So that’s probably why I’m not as jaded as others. There is no perfect man or perfect woman. You just have to find the perfect person for you. It can take awhile to find them. But I think the right person is worth the wait. And I love when I see black couples on the street. It’s a beautiful thing to witness. ♥️

  3. Great analysis C.C! I caught a little of this show, unfortunately at the spot where the black woman was saying she had to abandon the idea of her perfect mate coming in a black package, I was most put off by that. Black love though at this junction in time is critical. I also noticed the colorism in the show, I don’t know if this will help to elevate “black” love or not. Although black comes in many different shades now due to our unfortunate experience with slavery, we cannot forget the original “black” the further we move away from that the worst. We have to uphold the natural blackness the blue black purple black as the standard of blackness, which is why I love Viola’s presence. I will check this show out to see how it evolves. You made some excellent points, I wish the producers could hear your concerns! I’m concerned if they are going to only use Hollywood blacks and rich blacks that presents a major problem for me.

  4. Comedian Chris Spencer is married to a Latina. His wife Vanessa is Puerto Rican/Cuban. Her brother is actor Adam Rodriquez. Some may have thought she was a very light skinned woman. So if this series is about “black love”…….why are there interracial couples? I think Oprah knows exactly what she’s doing. Just a little food for thought.

  5. Here’s a video of him joking about his Latina wife.

  6. rhonda says:

    “white love” how about couple love or something like that cause I didn’t see 1 white couple I thought we all had to not be this way how come you can have all your own shows titled “Black” wow so hypocritical!

    1. From Disney films, to nearly every sitcom, white love is an emphasized and consistent component of western culture. You’d be happy to know that even a black love documentary on a black channel does not exclusively feature black couples–illustrating that black love remains in the backdrop of a still white dominated culture and media.

      Also note that the blog specifically states “A black female perspective,” yet this did not stop you from commenting or seizing a page in the black narrative. Proving that there need not be formal inclusion for whites and non-blacks to include themselves in black contemplation of race and narrative.

      Nevertheless, thank you so much for comment, and proving the dissonance to which most whites conceptualize, or fail to conceptualize the inequity of racism.

    2. If you already knew from the title of the show that non white couples were featured why did you watch it if you only wanted to see white couples?

  7. Maury is a exploitation show. The people that appear on it are clearly there to be seen. Are some people this desperate for attention? I believe so.

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