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Bravo’s latest female-centric docu-drama Married to Medicine follows six Atlanta women who are either doctors themselves (like OBGYN Jacqueline Walters and her former business partner Simone Whitmore) or married to one (Kari Wells‘ husband is a surgeon, Mariah Huq and Toya Bush-Harris are married to ER doctors, and Quad Lunceford‘s new husband is a psychiatrist). Though the show follows these “dynamic and successful” women as they juggle being wives, mothers and socialites, it’s really just a new facelift on an old franchise idea that swirls around cocktail parties and drama.
There was a time when there remained some novelty to the concept, and I remember those days of lounging around watching The Real Housewives of Orange County, the series that spawned a million spinoffs, all day. But the souped-up drama, negative portrayal of women and toxic female relationships that these shows perpetuate have been escalating for a while, with the women not only verbally assaulting each other, but also sometimes becoming physical, too. Yes, a lot of it is just for show (or the result of being soaked in alcohol), but it doesn’t make it any less disturbing.
Like the Real Housewives of Atlanta, Married to Medicine‘s Atlanta cast is made up primarily of black women, except for Kari Wells. Dr. Jackie, who the other women think is snobby (“I saw pantyhose … with peep-toed shoes”), but who comes off as the most real of all of them, says at one point, “When women lose their tempers in public, especially women of color, it saddens me.” Later, when talking to “Queen Bee” Mariah, she mentions that the women should be “mature enough” to be able to handle their differences sensibly. Dr. Jackie, have you ever watched Bravo? I wouldn’t be surprised if the good doctor ends up being left off of the party-invite lists while the others resume their fights. Toya (called “Tacky Toya” by Quad) says with genuine pride, “The thing about the Atlanta medical community is that there are so many young, black Americans just doing it.” Unfortunately, the only thing about that medical community we see is catty behavior and negative stereotypes.
None of this is surprising, and for fans of the Housewives franchises, this will just provide more of the same — an emphasis on status, drunken declarations of shade being thrown, provoked conversations and husbands who float like ghosts in the background. The phrase “doctor’s wives” is uttered an exceptional number of times in an attempt to convince us that somehow this is a special club that it is a privilege to be a part of, but that also comes with important duties: “There is a code of conduct, we want to do no harm.” It seems the women didn’t get the memo. “You ain’t gotta hit nobody!” Mariah says to Quad after a skirmish between Quad and Toya at Mariah’s birthday party. “She went from Atlanta to Memphis in 30 seconds,” Mariah then tisks at the camera about Quad.
Bravo knows how to please its audience, though, and Married to the Medicine has — for better or worse — an engaging and familiar style that is often formulaic, occasionally explosive and sometimes peppered with humor. Mostly, though, it’s just another iteration of women behaving badly.
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