Basketball Wifeys

Ever since the R&B group Next released the hit single ‘Wifey’ (2000), there’s been some confusion about the true definition of a wife.

Take the new VH1 series Basketball Wives, starring Shaquille O’Neal’s estranged wife, Shaunie O’Neal-“A show about 6 women who are best friends searching for stability in the unstable arena of being the significant other to a basketball superstar,” according to

On the show, Shaunie O’Neal and her gal-pals are all at various points along the wifey spectrum; Shaunie has filed for divorce from Shaq; Suzie is a co-parent of two with Michael Olowokondi; Gloria is engaged to Matt Barnes; Evelyn suffered a broken engagement with Antoine Walker; Royce is a serial b-ball girlfriend and self-described “firecracker”; Jennifer is married to Eric Williams. So, if my math is correct, there’s one actively married woman on the show. I hope more married women will come off the bench over the course of the season so viewers can see what it takes to sustain high profile marriages.

For the record, being a wife is hard work.  It’s about being committed to your partner through the good times and the bad, whether they are famous, rich or neither. Being a wife requires forgiveness, compromise, and support. Being a wife means accepting your man, and his entire family as they are—never as easy as it sounds.

Now wifeys are a different story altogether. Women who haven’t made it past the engagement…wifeys. Women who shacked up…wifeys. Women who’ve been knocked up but haven’t been wifed up…do I even have to say it? Such women are not wives. They’re second string.

My marriage is by no means high profile or perfect. But I am happily married. Save for Jennifer, is there a viable marriage in this bunch?

I’m not one to knock the next woman’s hustle. I’m happy to see Shaunie handling her entertainment business as an executive producer. My point of contention is that the show is mis-titled. It should be called Basketball Wifeys. Calling it Basketball Wives is false advertising. They may have shacked up or co-parented, but they have not been wifed up. And until you have, you don’t know what it takes to be one. That’s why when things go wrong and promises are broken, wifeys get the shaft and the wife gets half.

Being married is serious business. It’s the most exclusive ‘club’ on the planet and a hot-button political issue for those in the club—and seeking entry. Sure, committed relationships can rock without the paperwork, but it’s not the same as being married. Just ask Alexis Phifer, who came thiiis close to marrying Kanye West. Or Katheryn Bigelow, James Cameron’s contribution to the First Wives Club.

Chilli: Real Star, Real Relationship Criteria

On the flipside, there’s VH1’s What Chilli Wants featuring Chilli from pop supergroup TLC. According to, Chilli decides to “take the reins of her romantic situation and launch an all out search for the love of her life.” The show is also a nice look for Brooklyn relationship diva and ‘Girl, Get Your Mind Right’ author Tionna Smalls.

It’s refreshing to see a bonafide celebrity looking for love utilizing a set of standards. Chilli isn’t hung up on how men earn money or whether they have kids already; she has a son herself. If this means a God-fearing, smoke, alcohol and pork free man who’s ripped and well endowed, so be it. More of us should be this specific and fearless in our search for a soul mate.

Chilli’s list is important. Without one, She could wind up off course and possibly bring home someone she’ll regret later kinda like grocery shopping while ravenously hungry. What Chilli Wants flexes real girl power because whether she finds a husband in 10 episodes or not, we all know she’ll be fine. “No one’s perfect; I know I’m not perfect, but I think women compromise too much.” Well said, Chilli! You are well on your way to adding happily married wife to all your great accomplishments. No waterfall chasing here.

7 Responses to “Basketball Wifeys”

  1. Funkidivagirl Says:

    Say it girl! This is in the same vein as The Real Housewives of…..Whatever City. That is my personal rant: THE MAJORITY OF THEM ARE NOT WIVES!

    How are they going to call a show Basketball Wives when only one is married?!?

  2. Carolyn Says:

    Bravo! On point, as always!

  3. goddessesrising Says:

    Great post! I just watched Chilli’s show last night and am getting tired of people encouraging single women to settle, especially with all of the coverage of black women being doomed to “singlehood” for the rest of our lives. It’s one thing to be picky and it’s another to be aware of what you need, want and expect from a relationship/partner. The Basketball “Wifes” show is horrible because it’s poorly scripted and totally contrived. I know most reality shows are but I’m finding it hard to believe that these women will organically hang out together. It doesn’t present them favorably at all…just as gold diggers and former groupies…except maybe Shaunie who seems to be the leader of the tomfoolery. Sigh.

  4. Christa Says:

    Great post, Thembisa! I watched a bit of the first ep & thought, “what the hell?” & it’s because of what you’re pointing out – there’s only ONE wife in the bunch, so the premise has lead me to think it’s gonna be something it’s not. There’s little chemistry between the women & Shaunie’s setup soundbites are falling flat for me. & bringing in the baby-momma just seems like a desperate move – perhaps the other girls were too boring & they needed someone (with nothing to lose) to shake things up, lol. But like you said, I’m glad to see Shaunie doing her thing as producer, I just wish she was producing more substantiative fare.

  5. Stilettodiva Says:

    I so agree on the “Wifey” epidemic. I would never let a man classify me as a wifey….I would only be the only.

  6. magazine online free Says:

    That was a decent read,I count on some more post from you.

  7. Top 10 Reasons Why I love ‘Just Wright’ « Thembisa Mshaka Says:

    […] REAL TALK I appreciated the very accurate portrayal of gold-digging females like Morgan, Paula Patton’s character. If you watched the movie and wondered, ‘do women […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: