Ready To Love may have presented us with a lot of women we don’t often see on TV, but it’s elimination process ruined the dating aspect of the show.
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Twelve women to 8 men started the show, and the goal was whittle this to 3 couples. With each cast member between 30 and 50, it was assumed we had full grown adults. Everyone had a job, some had kids, others wanted kids, and no one lived at home. Yes, some of the cast members were still getting over their exes, but they came ready to love. Well, most of the cast members did.
For you’ll come to see that many may have come to the decision they are ready to love in theory but not being ready to love in practicum. Take, for example, one cast member, Aaron, who saw this more as an opportunity to stunt, play the bad boy perhaps, than find love. Due to his antics, many women on the show were left frustrated and unfortunately made him one of the main things this show’s first season might be known for.
But, while he was cutting up, others did find love like Michael and Shea, Alexx and Ashlee, and others helped bring voices to women whose stories aren’t told. Be it women like Dr. Lexy, who in episode 2 and 3 tells her story; those like Shea, who dealt with postpartum depression and talks about it on air; or the many others who showed us Black women who were silly, eccentric, and unlike what we usually get from both scripted and unscripted TV.
The Diversity of Contestants & Their Stories
When it comes to age and skin tone, there was a nice diverse mix here. We had the dark-skinned Ashlee, who was 31, Shea, who is 44, and men ranging from Paco’s age of 50, the oldest contestant, to Devan who was 30. But, the big thing here isn’t their age’s or skin tones but their stories. The story of the women especially.
Touching on just some of the most memorable, first and foremost is Dr. Lexy. In episode 3, she goes on a date with Alexx, and he puts out the idea that she is difficult to approach because she is confident. Mind you, like most of the women, we hear her backstory and realize her journey to love began with self-love. When she was younger, as noted in episode 2, she wasn’t this “Diva,” as Alexx describes her. But, thanks to the armed forces, and coming into herself, she discovered what made her feel comfortable. Dr. Lexy discovered what made her feel cute and sexy. Which until she found the person she is now engaged to, seemingly intimidated men on Alexx’s level (no shade).
But, Dr. Lexy’s story isn’t the only one of note. We could go into the many dealing with infidelity, being a side piece, knowing their significant other had one, but instead let’s talk about Shea. In episode 6 she notes one of the big factors of her not wanting to commit to the idea of another child is her having Post-Partum Depression. Now, the topic in itself is not some new diagnosis, but it also isn’t something talked about often. I feel this is especially true when it comes to Black media for while we can write some good ass dramas, topics like this aren’t put out there and made quick to identify.
As for the men? Unfortunately, the men, either by choice or because they weren’t pushed to do so, don’t open up as much as the women do. However, Michael does let us into his belief system, Ifa, in two episodes. The first time was in episode 2, and this is followed by meeting his Baba in the season finale. I should note, he doesn’t break it down to the point it may inspire you to convert, but of all the men, he is the only one who gives you something which truly feels personal. At least of the men who made it past episode 2.
The Elimination Process
Perhaps the biggest issue with this show, that I hope they change in the second season, is the elimination process. As seen by Aaron’s antics, it fosters being charming and physical attraction, but it doesn’t help weed out those who aren’t ready for love. Keeping with the Aaron issue, through him we see the reason the women on this show turned to reality television to find love. That’s despite how they could be portrayed, interpreted and how, considering we’re in the internet/ social media age, possibly be ridiculed on a regular basis.
For what Aaron brings to the show, and “the process” or “journey” are triggers. As we get to learn about these women, we hear about them being cheated on, being the mistress, and it makes them being put in the situations this show has them in ridiculous. Since, by episode 3 or 4, it is the final three men and a whole bunch of women. This lopsided dynamic causes many conflicts between the men and the women and, rarely, between the women.
For example, Tiffany and Alexx were an item for a good majority of the show. That is, until he decided, after a few nasty fights with Tiffany, to see if maybe Ashlee was a better match. Which would be fine if the two women never saw each other, ate together, and didn’t have group meetups with the rest of the cast. However, on this show, in one particular episode, while sitting with both ladies, and the rest of the female cast, the host, Nephew Tommy, asks both women how their situation is going with Alexx. This leads to the kind of awkwardness you’d only wish on your worse enemy.
Another example, I want to say in episode 8, there is the issue of not being able to ignore or separate the fact your potential man is seeing other people for the cast are sharing a cabin. This leads to jealousy, but nothing ghetto, from Ashlee and Tiffany who are still courting Alexx. Alongside that, there is also a classy moment where one contestant, Shatava, after seeing how Michael and Shea were together, realizing continuing would be trying to get in the way of something real.
But the kicker here is that some, like Stormy and Pastor Chris, seemingly found someone good for them from the get-go. However, because of the way this show is set up, he got eliminated because the other ladies didn’t want him. Thus fostering an attitude where the guys have to mingle, almost act like players, and then having situations like mentioned above where now they have to go from playing the field, to stay on the show, to dedicating themselves to one woman. Take note this is after establishing a firm enough relationship with most so that they could have stayed and now these women are in their feelings.
Leading to the need to bring up Aaron again. When it came to nearly every woman he romanced, be it Angel, Stormy (after Pastor Chris was eliminated), Melinda or Courtney, because he was pushed to act as a player would, having to switch to being a one-woman man was hard. You could say it was because he wasn’t ready to love because he is a player and a slew of other things. I’d more so say this show set him up to show the worse of his person and he fell for every trap they set up. Thus leaving these women, Stormy in particular, having to flirt with repeating a pattern they were trying to get out of.
It Being Clear Tommy’s Experience Is Not Enough Sometimes – They Needed A Therapist For This Show
While Tommy has been married for decades and acts as a mentor throughout the process, one could argue he was much more helpful to the men than the women. On top of that, while he does have a degree in theater, arguably what this show desperately needed was someone with a doctorate in psychology. Why? Well, two reasons. The first is that some of the cast members had baggage from previous relationships which were getting in the way. I won’t say who but those who watched can surely think of one or two without issue.
The second reason is, on top of the baggage, it is one thing to say you are ready to love, but it is a whole other to say you understand how to both give and receive it. So having a couples counselor could have been great. It could have helped Tiffany and Alexx with their issues, sped up Mike and Shea talking about her worries with having a child, and who knows who else it could have helped. For while I appreciate what Tommy does try to do, as Ashlee says herself, a good part of the time he was stirring the pot. So as much as he meant well, mostly for the men, for the women, he pushed them in ways I can’t consistently say they were ready for.
Overall: Mixed (Stick Around)
— Amari Sali (@Wherever_I_Look) December 30, 2018
Low-key, this show is toxic. I attribute that primarily due to the elimination process, which created situations which look like what many of the women were trying to avoid making a pattern in their life. Also, while the contestants are 30+, the maturity expected is matched by the baggage they bring. Of which this show has Tommy, and that person’s fellow contestants, as their sole source of helping them deal with the insecurities and anxieties of publicly trying to date someone. Not to say they don’t have friends who aren’t aware of what is going on, but there are multiple moments when a professional should have been involved.
Hence the mixed label. While I love seeing the diversity this show brings, especially with an all Black cast, I feel it did a disservice to many of them. If it isn’t because of how it created an environment for those like Aaron to flourish, it is because it didn’t address being ready to love and the actual act are two different things. So while this show can improve, the first season had more problems it needs to address than things it should be seen as exemplary for.
Has Another Season Been Confirmed?: Based off an OWN post asking what city the show should go to next, it is safe to say this will get a second season.
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