Wednesday, September 07, 2011

TV TOPIC: Who Should Replace Stacey Dash on VH1's "Single Ladies"?

I don't normally tune into African American shows (even though I am African American), but I actually enjoyed VH1's "Single Ladies" this summer. Sure, it was the minority version of "Sex and the City," minus the voice over and the good writing. But it was also a fun examination of African American relationships and modern women, so I was a little disappointed to hear that after just one season, the series is falling apart.

According to VH1 reps, Stacey Dash (Val) has decided to leave the series because she can't stand to be away from her family. (They shoot in Atlanta and her family is based in L.A.). While I respect the idea of putting family before fame, I'm pretty sure she noticed the distance when she signed the contract. Google Maps could've helped her with that.

Gossip bloggers are speculating that the truth is Dash's diva behavior and on-set feud with her co-star LisaRaye (Keisha) got her fired. But I think Dash attempted to renegotiate her salary after the series was deemed a hit, hoping to bank off of her newly revived status. That might've worked...if one of her bosses wasn't Queen Latifah, a woman who's managed to stay in the game for the last 20 years, and whose greatest credit isn't a 90s movie and her ass.

So while it was fun seeing Dionne again, I say bring on the replacement options. The season ended with Val getting proposed to by her ex-boyfriend and her new boyfriend. They should wrap up her storyline with a scene where Keisha and April talk about how Val rejected them both and ran off to Cali to be with her tattoo artist K.C. and open a West Coast chain of her boutique, leaving her replacement in charge of her East Coast boutique. Whoever joins the series will have to appear to be in the 30-40 age range, and not be too classy so that it's not unbelievable when she has to have sex in a store or ride a fake bull. That cancels out the ever-advancing Jurnee Smollett ("Friday Night Lights"), the British import Thandie Newton, the seasoned vet Angela Bassett, etc., and leaves us with:

The Longshot: Halle Berry
The last time she made money at the box office was five years ago as a mutant. True, she made waves as a schizophrenic racist in Frankie & Alice last year, big enough to get a Golden Globes nod, but she's not exactly at the same level she was 10 years ago—before Catwoman. She could stand to join the ranks of other Hollywood actresses her age who are considering steady gigs on cable.

The 90s Romance Icon: Nia Long
One of the most beloved African American romances in film history is Love Jones, which starred Long. More than ten years later, that film is still cited as a cult favorite. Who better to navigate the torrential waters of modern love? Besides, Long is no stranger to TV ("Third Watch," "Big Shots," and "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air"), and she has a certain innocence that the series could use to tone down the sometimes excessive raunch.

The Latest Romance Icon: Sanaa Lathan
Long may have been the first of their generation, but three years later Lathan followed suit with her own iconic African American romance, Love & Basketball. She shed her delicate demeanor and good girl act to play a tough tomboy, reluctant to give in to her feminine desires. She could add a level of gravitas that the series has yet to believably sew into the DNA of these ladies, and bring them one step closer to the bar that "Sex and the City" set so high.
The Sex Icon: Rihanna
I know, I know. I'm braking my own rule by including someone who is 1) not between the age of 30 and 40, and 2) not even an actress. But believe it or not, Rihanna is apart of the diva revolution that both Gaga and Beyonce are team leaders of—a revolution that's starting to affect which new singers are getting a record deal and what characters we see on TV. She represents the sexually confident, bold, and volatile women that this generation looks up to. Sure, she's more likely to be intern Christina's friend than Val's successor, but I think given a few classes and the right makeover, she can pull off "romantically-challenged grown-up."

The Baby Face: Gabrielle Union
One of the perks of hiring Dash was that she seemed ageless. Angela Bassett may not look old, but you can tell she's older. Dash was 45, but she still passed for early 30s, which gives a series like "Single Ladies" lasting power. It's important that whoever replaces her ages well. Union is 39 and she doesn't look a day over 25. Plus, she isn't above taking a TV gig in the last few years ("FlashForward," "Life," and "Night Stalker") or being a supporting character. Therefore, she's unlikely to pull any diva-like behavior. Since her last hit was 2003's Bad Boys II, where she basically played the Rosie Huntington-Whiteley equivalent of The Hot Girl, she could use a hit.

The Underutilized: Joy Bryant
The model-turned-actress is doing a great job on NBC's "Parenthood" as a single mom struggling to make her relationship work with the irresponsible father of her child. Many African American actors consider getting a role on a multi-racial series a step up. And by those standards, she's one step closer to being considered as more than just a box checked off on a casting director's minority quota. So technically, joining this series would be a step down. But, it would also get her more screen time. Everyone on "Parenthood" gets about 2 minutes an episode—10 if they're lucky. Her role doesn't lend to an opportunity for scene-stealing, so the series could very well end without anyone ever taking notice of what she's capable of. "Single Ladies" could offer that.

The Throwback: Lark Voorhees
If VH1 is tight on budget and keen on profiting from a previously established fan base, they could always turn to Lisa Turtle, the object of many a teenage boy's affections in the 90s, all thanks to "Saved by the Bell." I know she isn't exactly known for being scantily clad in the last few years, but if Zack Morris ("Franklin & Bash"), Kelly Kapowski ("White Collar"), and A.C. Slater ("Extra" and "The Best Dance Crew") can make a comeback, then why can't she?

The Easy Choice: Lauren London
When I first heard of the series, I read that London would also star. But when I started watching, she seemed bumped down to a recurring guest star. Then there was an episode where she asked to be their bff, because she doesn't have many female friends in town, they agreed, and then we never saw her again. Not sure if that was due to her new motherhood—even though she gave birth 2 years ago—or Dash's divahood or because of scheduling conflicts with her role in Madea's Big Family Reunion, but I really liked her in "Entourage" and This Christmas. And I'm willing to forgive her unfortunate dalliances with that perverted troll Lil Wayne if I could just see her get the big break that I believe she deserves. However, if they do consider bringing her character back, I hope she's less of a nonsensical gold digger and more willing to change her ways. Perhaps even under Keisha and April's tutelage.

1 comment:

  1. Great list! I didnt watch the entire series, but I hope to get caught up before Season 2 starts. I would watch EVERY episode if Gabrielle (my fave), Nia or Sanaa took over. And it would be cool to see Lisa Turtle again. And I think she could benefit from the gig more than anyone else.