The first time I caught wind of Shawty Lo's upcoming one-hour TV special, All My Babies’ Mamas, I thought it was a bad joke. Doesn't one man having 11 children by 10 women — none of whom he has been, is currently, or ever will be married to — sound suspicious? Plus, I can't pick Shawty Lo, a.k.a. Carlos Walker, out of a lineup or name a song he was on and, well, baby mama jokes are as tired as the term itself (more on that below). So I ignored it, until a colleague was flipping out about it on Twitter and confirmed that, yes, this Oxygen show is actually (gulp) forreal.
The 13-minute trailer is documentation of an inglorious mess. If challenged and with the time to get uber-detailed, I could probably make a valid list of 50 things wrong with this whole concept. I'll give you my Top Five instead (in no particular order):
1. The Obvious Desperation
I could be speaking of Walker and the members of his harem, but actually I'm referring to Oxygen Media. The cable network described the show as "filled with outrageous and authentic over-the-top moments that our young, diverse female audience can tweet and gossip about."
Undoubtedly, the folk at Oxygen watched Vh1 rebrand from “MTV for old people” into one of the leading networks for the 25-34 of-color group, i.e. the consumers who spend the highest percentage of their dollars. They desperately want in and will scrape the bottom of the barrel, clearly. If this show is even remotely successful, expect to see more of the same. Or worse.
2. Referring to Any Woman as "Baby Mama"
I've always hated this term, mostly because it negates any sort of one-time relationship between the woman and man who now share a child. Many of the women in Walker's life carried on with him for months and years. They weren't jump-offs, they were girlfriends, one even a former fiancée.
I get it. They didn't have an ultimate commitment, but they had a commitment nonetheless. Describing a woman as "my ex who I have a child with" is convoluted and isn't catchy, but at least it doesn't erase the relationship between the kid's parents.
3. "Baby Mamas" Nos. 3-10
I don't desire to have a child without being married. Every woman doesn't feel the same. So be it. That said, I can understand how Woman No. 1 had a baby for Walker. I can understand, even, that Woman No. 2 thought of Woman No. 1 and said, "Oh, that won't be me! He will marry me!" But Women Nos. 3-10 saw a repeated pattern of behavior by Walker, with him impregnating multiple women and the relationship ending. What the hell were they thinking?
4. Shawty Lo has 11 Dang Kids
My first thought upon realizing this was an actual TV special was, "He needs to go to the clinic!" 11 children by 10 women means these 10 women who have evidence of unprotected sex are just the tip of the iceberg, and further, Walker has no concept of condoms. That's not cute, it's scary. And reckless. And highly irresponsible.
5. His Delusional 19-Year-Old Girlfriend
She's a cutie and I don't know why she's with Walker, who has a tribe of children and is almost 20 years her senior. It can't be the money. Split royalties from "Laffy Taffy" can't be paying like that, and even if they were, how much can a man ball when he's cutting 11 child-support checks every month? The red flag waving in hurricane level-4 wind should have been when this young woman found out Walker lied about having all them kids. She thinks they'll be married someday. I think she'll be the 11th "baby mama."
BONUS: The (Continued) Shame of Atlanta
There was a time not so long ago when Atlanta was considered The Mecca of sophistication, inexpensive and spacious real estate, and proud American history. The city still has all those things, but its PR tells another story. It's devolved into the strip-club capital, where materialism reigns and aging pimps and gold-diggers have overrun the city like AMC's walkers. Martin Luther the King did not die for this.
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