Shaunie O’Neal on ‘Basketball Wives’ Drama, Shaq’s Role as an Absent Father

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It’s no secret that we Parlour ladies watch “Basketball Wives” and yes, the show makes us want to tear our eyes out. The reality show, following ex-wives and fiancées around Miami, is also a great way to exercise the demons of the weekend by yelling at the TV strangers and judging their lives from our couches. We see you Jennifer Williams. During the final episodes of season three, the usual violence rose a few notches when Tami Roman smacked Meeka Claxton and Eric Williams threw a drink at his soon-to-be ex-wife Jennifer, hitting her in the mouth. As the show reached new depiction lows, the ratings both on television and on social media have soared and angry black folks are calling for the head of “Basketball Wives” creator and Executive Producer Shaunie O’Neal. Parlour chatted with Shaunie about drink-throwing, ex-husband Shaquille O’Neal ignoring his four children and continuing the legacy of the archetypal angry black woman.

PARLOUR: Drinks have been thrown by the “Basketball Wives” cast since season one, why is the public is so upset now?

Shaunie O’Neal: The drama days heavily outweigh the good stuff. We film footage with our kids then when the show airs, it’s like, ‘Damn, you guys cut out Evelyn’s charity event helping Miami children with cancer.’ None of us are proud of it.

As Creator and Executive Producer, what was your initial reaction to Eric throwing a drink at Jennifer’s face?

Despite what everyone thinks, I don’t think ratings. That’s the production company’s job, I ask ‘Do we really have to acknowledge Eric?’ I sit with the production team who says, ‘You’ve got to make everybody a complete story.’ I say, ‘Forget his side’ because he’s just mean.

Are you able to greenlight or ban content in your role?

No, it’s not about what I do and don’t want. As an executive producer among four others we also must get VH1’s seal of approval and the network is gonna air what they want. I brought the show to the table and hired Shed Media, an expert production company in reality TV. I’m hands off during editing because it’s not quite fair as a producer and cast member. I can say ‘Let’s show this’ and the network will say, ‘That’s great and maybe we’ll show that on the web but for the actual show, we want four million people tuning in and what you’re talking about right now is not what we think four million people will watch.’

Have you ever threatened to cancel the show if things became too crazy?

No, I’ve never threatened to cancel it.

What do you think of Meeka’s lawsuit against Tami?

Meeka is suing for compensation because she was unable to film the season’s several remaining episodes [after her fight with Tami]. She wanted to film right after that fight and we all were witnesses. It was a production call for her own safety to send her home. I don’t really know how well this lawsuit is going to do for Meeka.

With all of the backlash to the show, are you trying to turn things around in season four?

I don’t want to turn it around, I just want balance. If we are gonna show Eric throw a drink in Jennifer’s face, then show our philanthropy. I’ve asked and I think VH1 and Shed Media absolutely hear my little ploy. We are already in the works of achieving that balance.

Switching gears, you’re still dating the young man Marlon Yates but rumors abound that your ex-husband and father of your four children Shaquille is a deadbeat dad, is that true?

I wish it was a better situation, but I can’t control where anybody spends their time. The question I was [asked on TMZ was] ‘Now that he’s retired, what do you hope he accomplishes?’ and I said ‘I hope that he gets to spend more time with his kids.’ That’s the truth.

  • http://nakiahansen.com Nakia H.

    The  networks and advertisers are always going to support whatever gets the most ratings and $$. We go crazy for all of that drama on the show even if we know it’s deplorable and has a negative impact on the black woman’s image. We’re tuning in, we’re tweeting – 4 million of us and more. No matter what Shaunie wants them to show, we’re still going to see a bunch of mess so long as it’s making money for the stakeholders. I myself am part of the problem, so I know how hard it’s going to be for us to make a change as a culture. But I guarantee that if Shaunie wanted to pull the plug on the show (and she could do so legally at this point) that another one would crop up before the dust settled.