I swore up and down I wasn’t taking on any new TV shows this season. Between “Empire”, “Being Mary Jane”, “Scandal” and the return of “Walking Dead” threatening to take over my winter, there was just no room to tap into pop culture and still be productive. But I’m making one more exception this season for WE Tv’s "Match Made in Heaven” (Wednesdays, 8PM, WE Tv), which features “America’s first Black bachelor” (no Flavor Flav and Ray J don’t count.)
I was intrigued after seeing the commercials for the show. I’m a former romance book editor (I started my career editing books for Arabesque and Harlequin) and I love all the romance, wining and dining, and the search to find “The One”. But, I was still skeptical, given the “black bachelor” TV- history of "Flavor of Love" and "For the Love of Ray J”. I wanted to see more connection — as much as you can have filming a show— and less coonery.
Last week, I reached out to “Match Made in Heaven’s” bachelor, Shawn Bullard, to get the scoop, and really, to figure out if the show was worth my time. By the end of the interview, I was sold enough to check out the first episode.
"Black men are not portrayed the best on reality TV,” Bullard admitted. "We’re always yelling and calling women the b-name. I wanted to show another side to us. I wanted to be the professional gentleman, an educated, articulate black man, one who would let the world know that we know how to treat our women, how to court them, how to make them smile, how to talk to them.”
“Match Made in Heaven” follows the standard premise of all the “looking for love” shows. One man, in this case a 34 year old very attractive (and chiseled) millionaire, looking for love amongst a gaggle of ladies who have varying degrees of act-right.
Bullard’s search for love is assisted by Pastor Ken Johnson aka Pastor J, who has been married for 32 years and acts as a “den father” to the women. (There are pimp-ish connotations here because of Pastor J’s choice of suits and overall demeanor, but he’s not skeevy, save for the occasional Nelly quote.) For Bullard, Pastor J functions as an advisor of sorts, one who will point out a woman than Bullard may be overlooking, arrange a date, or save a lady from elimination.
In the first episode, Pastor J warns “Match Made in Heaven" may "get loud and sometimes it’s going to get nasty and ugly.” In our interview, Bullard ranked the show as just a 2 on the ratchet meter, just enough to keep the audience entertained, but nothing to disgrace The Community.
There’s just a bit of that in the first episode. The group of ladies are mostly in their early 20s, with a few in their early 30s for good measure. The standard outrageous “types” for this sort of show are present. Among the 24, there’s a weedhead, a born-again virgin, a woman who’s “not here to make friends” , a woman I’m pretty sure is an exotic dancer, another woman who I can’t decide is a lesbian or bisexual, and finally an overwhelming assortment of blond white girls (they provide most of the drama), which Bullard doesn’t seem all that interested in so far (confession: I’ve already seen the next couple episodes.) There are also several women— more than normal for a show like this— who appear entirely sane. This is a good thing.
The only thing missing from the debut is Bullard’s mama, Maggie Bullard, who appears in the commercials. I got two words: fired up. And I’m done. I got to more: turn up. And I’m done. Mama Bullard, what I expect “Cookie” from Empire will eventually become, doesn’t show up until Episode 3, and she is worth the wait.
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