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Love & Hip Hop: Hollywood Reunion Recap: Screen Time

Love & Hip Hop: Hollywood

The Reunion: Part 1
Season 5 Episode 17
Editor’s Rating *****

Love & Hip Hop: Hollywood

The Reunion: Part 1
Season 5 Episode 17
Editor’s Rating *****
Photo: VH1

Well, well, well. It’s that time of the year again when we gather ‘round the television/computer/tablet/iPhone Plus to watch the reunion of Love and Hip Hop: Hollywood (and surrounding Los Angeles counties). This reunion has such a weird vibe. Maybe because there’s an old-timey car parked in the middle of the set. Or perhaps it’s because there are so many people in the actual cast of LHHH that some of them are literally sitting in and commenting from the rafters. Or perhaps because this show, in all its love and its hip-hop, is just very strange.

Whatever the reason, we start with Nina Parker, our gracious host, who has the very difficult job of babysitting these grown adults. Moderating a panel is never easy, especially when all the panelists do is scream and swear and threaten to attack each other. Kudos to the former journalist/costume designer/actress for seeking the truth. (And an honorable mention to the hardest-working security team on cable, who have the catlike reflexes and psychic abilities to disband any fight before it gets started.)

Unfortunately for Nina Parker, the cast is colluding against her and the audience. When she begins to question A1 and Lyrica about their infidelity storyline, neither of them seem to remember anything. This is a great strategy for an attorney general’s confirmation hearing, but we hold our reality TV reunion episodes to a much higher standard. Lyrica and A1’s unwillingness to discuss the story that dominated the entire season leaves us all feeling empty. The only gratification we get is when Safaree admits once and for all that he didn’t sleep with Lyrica. RoccStar also takes the opportunity to admit that he didn’t sleep with Lyrica. As I suspected, all these men were lying about sleeping with a pregnant woman to promote their profile on the show. This sweaty clamor for screen time is gross and sad and also pathetic.

Instead of taking the opportunity to call out all these men who defamed Lyrica’s character for pleasure, Moniece questions whether Lyrica received a lewd photo from Safaree. This leads to an argument between Moniece and Lyrica, making Moniece the first of many to be escorted off the LHHH stage. This consequently prompts Princess to scream, “You’re always targeting pregnant women,” as Moniece scrapes for the last word. Tragic. Almost as tragic as the idea of a seven-months pregnant Lyrica alone in an adjacent room in front of a green screen and screaming at a Cisco camera. If Love & Hip Hop: Hollywood has taught me anything, it’s that for some, screen time is more valuable than dignity.

We see that with A1’s mother, Pam, who goes on a tirade against Lyrica G, Lyrica’s mom. Pam wants Lyrica G to stop asking her son for money, among other indecipherable things. To be clear, the reason I find Pam’s behavior objectionable has nothing to do with the fact that she’s older or a mother, and everything to do with the fact that she is screaming like a wild banshee. I don’t know what’s possessed this woman, but it appears she watched 12 hours of Maury and thought this is how she could leave her mark on reality television. I don’t believe the majority of the Love & Hip Hop cast understands what exactly goes into being a great reality star. You must be unfiltered and shameless, but most importantly, you must seem real. Pam’s outbursts are unprovoked, and thus they come across as inorganic. She’d be better off saving her biting lines for when she’s actually attacked.

Instead, she whirls her hands and feet like the Tasmanian devil, hoping to land a hit in a tornado of fury. This doesn’t work, prompting Lyrica to disinvite her from her grandchild’s birth and the security team to escort her offstage. Somewhere in all this, K. Michelle is also escorted offstage for some unknown reason. For these reality stars, being escorted offstage feels like a victory in that they have become disruptive enough to create a moment. But when it’s happening more than once in any given segment, it comes off as unoriginal.

But being unoriginal is not something this cast is afraid of. Case in point: A1 reads the results of his unborn child’s DNA test in the same manner as Maury might, and I have no doubt that Mr. Povich will be seeking legal damages, as his catchphrase is trademarked. Truth be told, there was absolutely no need for this DNA test, no need to read it onstage, and no need to screenshot the result and create an insert shot … but theatrics are important, especially when your principal characters aren’t providing substance. This is all at the expense of Lyrica and her unborn child, who should rightfully be humiliated at the questioning of the paternity. I hope by the time this child is old enough to read, television and the internet have ceased to exist.

There’s not much else going on at this reunion. Ray J, who is dressed like Kanye mid-emotional breakdown, periodically stands up to express that he “can’t condone this.” This would have been a dramatic statement maybe four or five years ago, but now it just comes across as hollow and gets lost in the yelling matches. His only real mention in this episode is when Nina cues up a package of his meandering beanie, a joke from the funniest community on the planet, Black Twitter. Ray J uses this opportunity to plug his new hat store, reminding me that his priority is and always will be to secure the bag.

Amber Diamond and Shun Love arrive. This is when RoccStar sort of apologizes for calling Amber a bad singer and suggests that she should be a model. Everyone agrees. This is the kindest way anyone has ever told a vocal artist to shut up and I appreciate their positive reinforcement.

Shun Love and Apple Watts are in litigation, which is unsurprising since their manager-client arrangement always seemed a little predatory. Apple Watts owes Shun Love $17,000, which Apple says she will gladly go to jail over. I’m not sure what to take away from this exchange other than the fact that Apple Watts chose a great jumpsuit for this taping. The only nice conclusion to come from this segment of the reunion is that the ladies of LHHH came together to tell Apple’s fake father, John, that he is a weirdo. I don’t understand how he could look back at this season and not think he did anything wrong, having pretended to be Apple’s father in order to get screen time. But hey, some people are just bad people. And sometimes those bad people go on reality shows. And sometimes those reality shows elevate those bad people until, eventually, they are elected president.

Lastly, Moniece and RoccStar spar over her fainting spell in the studio. RoccStar thinks she was playing the victim, which K. Michelle uses as an opportunity to call him out for always arguing with women. I have to agree with Kimberly. RoccStar proved himself to be a misogynist this season. And whether he’s known Lyrica or Moniece for several decades is beside the point. He is unable to talk about the women he’s connected to without referring to sex. I don’t know if he’s overcompensating for something, but it leaves a sour taste in my mouth. That’s why, when K. Michelle says, “You need a peach, you’re like a [Real] Housewife,” I absolutely died. Finally someone called him out for his cruelty. This leads to RoccStar’s being escorted out … which leads to A1 and RoccStar’s leaving the reunion together for some unknown reason, as RoccStar counts a stack of bills, ultimately proving just how meaningless all the lies and the fighting really are, just smoke and mirrors for a little bit of screen time. Until next week …

Love & Hip Hop: Hollywood Reunion Recap: Screen Time