VH1’s ‘Sorority Sisters’ reality tv show.
The Dec.15 premiere of the reality TV series “Sorority Sisters” on VH1 garnered over 1.3 million views and was the top non-sports-related program among women ages 18-49 during its air time, according to the Washington Post. Despite the high ratings, the show has drawn criticism from the Greek life community, which claims the show portrays a negative stereotypical view of African-American women and misrepresents the ideals of illustrious sorority organizations.
The show follows the everyday lives of nine women from four prominent African-American sororities, including Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Delta Sigma Gama Sorority, Sigma Gama Rho Sorority and Zeta Phi Beta Sorority.
When the show was announced last summer, a promotional video was released online, showing typical reality TV culture with name calling, fighting and drama. The video drew critics and 40,000 people signed an online petition to take the show off the air, according to TheGrio.com. Despite opposition, the show was still not canceled.
Jennifer Jones, 53, who is the president of the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC), which represents the nine Black Greek sororities and fraternities, said she saw the initial pilot trailer a few days before the premiere and was displeased with what she saw.
“I got an e-mail of the announcement of the show and the pilot trailer a couple days before it initially aired and I was amazed by it and taken back by it and was like, ‘wow, ‘” said Jones, a proud member of the Zeta Phi Beta sorority for over 30 years, who added that the show misrepresents the true purpose of the “divine nine” organizations. “That isn’t what our organization represents. As an African-American woman, I felt degraded and saddened. None of that foolery or calamity is what our organization represents.”
Nicole Reed, 20, who is a junior at Long Wood University and a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority chapter at her school, purposely decided not to watch the premiere because she believes the show doesn’t show true sisterhood and community service.
“I would like to see a show with young women in a positive light. I think the sorority show could have been a positive thing. There needs to be something that shows the accomplishments of Black women instead of drama, fighting and hatred towards one another.”
The controversial show has caused advertisers to pull ads from the “Sorority Sisters” time slot on VH1. According to the Post, Carmex, Hallmark, Honda, Crayola and JBL, a subsidiary of Harman International all have decided to not show advertisements when “Sorority Sisters” is on the air.
Despite opposition, VH1 is continuing with the program as scheduled because people are watching and it declined to comment about the advertisers pulling away. “There are no plans to change the series and it seems to be connecting with its audience,” the network said in a statement. “Due to the confidential nature of our agreements with our advertising partners, we never speak to specifics about clients and their media plans.”
The NPHC released their own statement in response to the show, claiming that show “poses a shameful affront” to the proud legacies of their organization.
“It is our collective desire that VH1 carefully consider the ramifications of such irresponsible programming that continues to exploit and degrade the image of African American women. Our members along with many other fraternal groups have lost confidence in the credibility in VH1 and those advertisers that support the show, all of whom have been notified of our discontent.”
Twitter: @hunter_jonathan TT