Disclaimer: This is not a TV series that I watch; I’m just not in its target demographic, so I can’t really speak to its merits, or react to the reactions many of you have had to its return a couple of days ago. I’m just a messenger in this case…
Announced early last year, Centric, formerly known as BET on Jazz, BET Jazz, and BET J, and launched in September 1996 as a spin-off cable television channel of BET, is being rebranded, yet again – this time as a specifically black woman-focused network, calling itself "the first network designed for black women."
Those rebranding efforts continue to take shape in 2015, starting with the relaunch of the network’s pickup of the canceled VH1 drama series "Single Ladies," which premiered 2 nights ago, March 18, 2015, airing on both Centric and BET (for those without Centric).
Centric also previously announced an exclusive co-production deal with Queen Latifah’s Flavor Unit Entertainment to produce new content for the network, and as part of the deal, BET Networks was to develop and premiere an all-new Season 4 of the highly-rated "Single Ladies" series for Centric, which it apparently has. But maybe it’s a little too "all-new" for a lot of you, if your post-season 4 premiere comments are any indication.
Apparently, new characters have been introduced, some old favorite characters are gone, and what previously appealed to the series’ core audience – in terms of story and style – seems to have been lost in some kind of overhaul, which appears to have taken many by surprise.
Again, I’m going based on what you all who watch the series, have shared in the last 2 days, on this site.
Here’s a sample:
– JANE DOE, MAR 18, 2015 10:43PM
This is why people loose interest in our black shows, too many cast changes. Then it begins confusion. Good luck!
– BRENDELLE, MAR 18, 2015 11:08PM
You need to bring Raquel back.
– SPOTTED FEATHER, MAR 18, 2015 11:21PM
Kudos to the writers, producers, crew…u are golden and blessed. Thx 4 bringing back this show! Love it! Keep on doing what u do.
– ANITA, MAR 18 11:38PM
There must be new writers on the show. Where is the sexiness from last season?
– TONYA, MAR 18 11:55PM
If they don’t bring Raquel back I will not be watching…and the original one
– SHAENA, MAR 19 12:15AM
You guys need to bring Raquel back this show. makes no sense now and it looks stupid and dumb. what happened to picking it up where it left off. and then putting what happened to Raquel
– DEE, MAR 19 12:16AM
Please bring back Raquel!!!
– DEEDEE, MAR 19 12:40AM
This was the worst episode of single ladies that I’ve ever watched, and I’ve been a fan from the beginning!!! the character changes was horrible!! such anticipation, just too be let down!!!! will not watch again
– JAZZY, MAR 19 1:04AM
Bring back Raquel! This episode of single ladies didn’t make any sense, lacked sophistication and sex appeal…horrible! I’ve watched the shoe since season 1, but I will not watch again.
– DIANA, MAR 19 1:31AM
Everybody doesn’t need to be unhappy..Where the hell is Rachel??? Terrance is dying
– NOT SURPISED, MAR 19 7:19AM
Single Ladies just jumped aboard the "Empire" clone-train.
– CANDICE, MAR 19 7:28AM
This season sucks big time. i was looking forward for terrance and raquel love connections.malcom and keisha trying to make it work.After the first few minutes into it i lost interest too many changes. I have been waiting for almost a whole year with anticipation and it just flop big time. I dont think i will watch the rest of the season.Big disppointment.
– APPLE, MAR 19 8:29AM
I was really pissed with this show last night. How are you’ll just going to get rid of Rachel like that. then have her declared dead. Then Malcolm is missing and Keisha is in jail. Then you bring in all these new people. I waited this long for this mess. Highly DISAPPOINTED.
– RENEE, MAR 19 8:39AM
oh damn I’d hoped this sorry show was gone and gone for good.. but I’m glad for those of you that like it…
– ANGIE, MAR 19 9:01AM
No Raquel, No watch!
– STARR WHATLEY, MAR 19 10:17AM
no Raquel and Terrance will not watch
– JACKIE, MAR 19 10:37AM
The show is nothing without Raquel she needs to be brought back
– MILLIE, MAR 19 10:55AM
They should have presented new cast slowly. I was like what the heck. who is that?
– JUSTRIGHT, MAR 19 11:56AM
Why is Raquel not on this season? The show does not even feel the same.
– IESHIA REVELS, MAR 19 12:29PM
I really enjoy watching this show, but I don’t think it will be the same without Raquel. You should really find a way to bring her back.
– KAYLA, MAR 19 2:10PM
Ughhh, So disappointed!! Bring back Raquel (Denise Vasi). Where’s Malcolm?? Sean? TOO many changes…I will watch one more week then I’m OUT!!!
– ERICA, MAR 19 6:03PM
It’s no longer ‘Single Ladies’. As a result, should start new with a different show, and build a different expectation and audience. It’s far different than the show that inspired a loyal audience to persevere despite cancellation and network changes. It has three years of branding and is unlikely to draw those who did not like the original. I don’t see how it will survive. Loved Raquel and the original show. Not feeling this recreation.
And there’s more where that came from. But I think the last comment from Erica sums up what most seem to be feeling about the series’ return and debut on Centric – as I said earlier, an apparent overhaul of the show, with new cast members audiences weren’t pre-introduced to, and previous cast members who are apparently now gone, with obvious special love for Raquel – the character played by Denise Vasi.
If you’re a long-time fan of the series, and you did watch the first episode of season 4 on Wednesday of this week, share your thoughts in the comments section below – especially if you disagree with the above consensus.
It may just be that some are being a bit too impatient, especially after just one episode, and they should consider watching a few more to get into the groove of it all over again, despite the apparent changes. Although these are changes that, if you were reading this site last year, you would’ve expected.
Given the 250+ comments the post on this blog last year, announcing the cancellation of the series received – the majority of them lamenting the news, calling for VH1 to reconsider – learning that BET/Centric had picked up the series was music to the ears of many.
In February of 2014, VH1 announced that, after it’s 3rd season, the network would end its hit drama series "Single Ladies" – the Queen Latifah/Flavor Unit Entertainment produced original scripted program (which was also VH1’s first hour-long scripted series), which starred LisaRaye McCoy, Denise Vasi, Charity Shea, D.B. Woodside, Travis Winfrey, Terrell Tilford, with new additions during its last season on VH1, in LeToya Luckett, Damien Dante Wayans and Lesley-Ann Brandt.
"We’ve been proud to deliver three seasons of the drama, romance and style that engaged viewers in each episode of Single Ladies," VH1 said in a statement. "Although we’ve decided not to move forward with another season, we hope to work again with the talented cast, creatives and producers as well as our partners at Flavor Unit Entertainment in the near future. We also thank the show’s fans for their support since the premiere in 2011."
A couple of months later, BET’s Centric announced its plans to revive the series, with Queen Latifah’s Flavor Unit Entertainment company developing what would be a 4th season exclusively for the network.
As part of the agreement, Centric would also start carrying Latifah’s syndicated daytime talk show (which has been canceled since then).
At the time, it was said that casting was apparently NOT guaranteed to look like what it did while the series was on VH1, so, as I said at the time to fans of the series, don’t be surprised if there was a remixing of the 3 leads, and supporting characters. And it’s obvious now that there has been.
The series’ season 3 premiere episode drew 2.6 million viewers, and a 1.74 rating, which was up an astounding +51% from the series’ season 2 debut, and it averaged 2.2 million total viewers throughout the season, which matched its season 2 numbers.
So its cancellation was a surprise, especially since it had been a successful series for the network, over its 3 seasons. Although, after its debuted in 2011, VH1 did pick up other scripted series, like "Hit The Floor," the dance dramedy that stars Kimberly Elise, Taylour Paige, Charlotte Ross, Logan Browninghas and Dean Cain. I suggested previously that this may have been a catalyst for the cancellation.
But clearly BET/Centric saw the potential in it, and the pick up actually made sense for the network, given its recent overall shift towards woman-centric original scripted programming.
It’s evolved over the years, eventually being rebranded by BET as Centric, in 2009, into what had essentially become a general interest channel targeted at African American adult audiences (compared to BET’s targeted younger viewers – although that seems to be changing), with programming comprised primarily of music appreciation from across the Diaspora, as well as unscripted content and lots of old black TV shows like "227," "The Cosby Show," "The Jamie Foxx Show" and many more.
The network claims that it’s growing into a premiere destination for African American women – a crown that I think Oprah Winfrey’s OWN will argue belongs to them, given its accelerated reach in that demographic, year-over-year, since it launched. The battle for the African American woman’s attention is underway. Read my 2014 piece on that matter here.
No word yet on what the season 4 premiere ratings numbers are.