There’s so much finger-wagging about the obnoxiousness of reality TV that an important point can be overlooked. Sometimes, amidst the bling and boobage, there’s a situation that strongly resonates with viewers’ own lives and keeps them watching. Girlfriend flare-ups. Jealousy. Boyfriend betrayal.
Previous posts about the Housewives on BRAVO and Khloe Kardashian noted that there’s a NotMom tucked into the cast of some of the most popular reality shows. The viewer generally gains that information by watching what should be a woman’s private discussion about trying to have, or wanting to have, a baby.
I decided to catch a new BRAVO production, Married to Medicine, to see if it strayed from the Housewives formula. It didn’t. Doctors’ wives act just as crazy, physically fighting in evening gowns. One of the physicians in the group, Dr. Jacqueline Walters, decides to be Peacemaker, convening a face-to-face, get-it-out-of-your-system event. She couldn’t have foreseen the ending, charged with being an ineffective moderator because she doesn’t have kids.
The clip features Dr. Jackie, Toya and Mariah, in that order, but not the pertinent scene. In a nutshell: Woman A (Mariah) learns that Woman B (Toya) was overheard publicly revealing that Mariah’s young daughter is adopted. The adoption has been kept secret from the girl as well as the other kids Mariah gave birth to. Hence, the fist fight.
During the effort to get the two women to talk it out, Mariah tells Dr. Jackie that she doesn’t understand the gravity of the situation because she’s not a Mom. Stunned, Dr. Jackie (who is a stepmom, but not a birth mom) responds that there are many ways to care for a child and relate to the situation. Mariah cuts her short. No. You don’t have kids. You will never understand.
Me, I’m watching open-mouthed by this point. The part that didn’t surprise me was Dr. Jackie’s next reaction: To get the hell outta there, angry and almost in tears. Event over.
All the women, and the viewers, already knew that Dr. Jackie is still grieving the fact that she will never give birth, a result of earlier treatments for breast cancer. Her work as an Atlanta OB/GYN brings her joy, and some sadness, every day. I don’t think her teenaged step-daughter has ever lived in her home long-term.
A quick pan of celebrity/TV blogs shows coverage of Mariah and Toya at Dr. Jackie’s make-up event that failed. None of them mention what happened to Dr. Jackie herself. Nasty words rarely drive ratings the way fists do.
On her blog at the BRAVO site, Dr. Jackie said:
“Somehow I am accused of not understanding the pain Mariah is feeling because I have not been pregnant and physically bore a child. This is strange because then every person who has adopted a child or used a surrogate to become a mother wouldn’t understand this pain. Where is it written that you have to endure a situation to understand it? I TOTALLY get that there is pain, but what I don’t get is getting stuck in the middle of pain and allowing it to control me so much that I would actually physically attack another. Some of these ladies sitting here have some form of adoption in their lives and to say that adopted or acquired parenting makes the parent unable to understand — come on give me a break!!!”
5/26/13 UPDATE: During the first of a 2-part end-of-season “reunion special” (the kind BRAVO lives for), Dr. Jackie attempted to explain her objectives as peacemaker one more time. When Mariah threw her childlessness in her face yet again, every one else was left open-mouthed. Season 2 will surely return to this topic, one way or the other.