I had the lowest ever expectations of “The Family Hustle,” VH1’s newest reality show featuring rapper Clifford “T.I.” Harris, his wife Tameka “Tiny” Harris, and their blended family, which includes six children. I was expecting a disturbing, hoodtastic mess. But what I saw on Monday night was a man who’s made horrible decisions finally growing up and accounting for them. Not just in words, but in actions. This new and improved side of T.I., or perhaps one that was there all along that we weren’t privy to? I likey.
The debut episode of “Family Hustle” showed a doting father schooling his children on the rules of the house and life, and sacrificing his professional obligations to attend his son’s football game. As a husband, he was playful, romantic and attentive. (That he’s a good provider goes without saying.) As a mother, Tiny was nurturing and silly, even if she was harmlessly inappropriate at times. As a wife, no surprise, she was all about her man.
It’s “not the Brady Brunch” as Tiny states in a commercial for the show, but it is a large family with genuine love that leaps off the screen. I never “got” their 10-year relationship before -- and I didn’t have to, as long as they get it, that’s what matters -- but now that I’m aware of what goes on, at least in the editor’s cut, I’m not even mad.
What I am a little mad at though, is the way T.I. and Tiny’s relationship was uplifted as ideal. I know TV -- and 72% of homes -- are lacking a male/father figure, but I was surprised to hear so many people talking about how T.I. and Tiny were a couple they envied. Really?
Over on Clutch, Britini Danielle penned an essay, “Jim Jones and T.I. Show Us How to Love." She writes, “Say what you will about Tiny and T.I.’s hoodrich love, but theirs is the type of relationship many long for: Loving, affectionate, fun, respectful, and supportive.”
I agree that these are the traits of a great relationship, but aren’t we overlooking a whole lot to quickly place T.I. and Tiny on the Obamas' pedestal?
“While it’s cute, sweet, and seems genuine, don’t get wrapped up in the love and hip-hop thinking it could be you,” one commenter wrote in response to Danielle’s piece. “To reiterate a conversation held while watching the show: “You can’t turn a hoe into a housewife, but you can turn a drug dealer into a husband?”
Another commenter said she was “disturbed” by the number of women on her Twitter timeline saying they wanted what T.I. and Tiny have. “Uruh…T.I. may be a loving husband, but he’s still a colossal f*** up,” she wrote. “Think of the superfluous drama that comes along with “holding a man down” when he’s in jail twice in three years. I wouldn’t wish marriage to him on my worst enemy. A family head should be a good decision-maker.
What did you think of "Family Hustle?"
Demetria L. Lucas is the author of “A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life” (Atria) in stores now. Follow her on Twitter @abelleinbk