Race, Romance, and a Reality Show: The Controversy over “Flavor of Love”

The controversy over Flavor Flav’s VH1 reality show, in The New York Times.

[Flavor Flav’s] reality series, “Flavor of Love,” a ghetto-fabulous spoof of the dating series “The Bachelor,” has been a colossal hit for VH1. The show’s first-season finale in March drew nearly six million viewers, making it the highest-rated show in the cable channel’s history. More than three million people tuned in to watch the second-season premiere early August.

No one seems to be enjoying the success more than Flav, as he is known to one and all.

“I’m the king of VH1,” he crowed over a surf-and-turf dinner at a soul food restaurant in downtown Los Angeles. “Your man Flavor Flav is doing his thiiiiing.”

That thing has made the show as polarizing as it is popular. On blogs and at the office, on message boards and in op-ed columns, viewers are both riveted and repelled by “Flavor of Love.”

Fans of the show call it a harmless guilty pleasure, and its star a lovable and unlikely Romeo. Critics have accused the show of trafficking in racial stereotypes and have called Flav everything from a sellout to a modern-day Stepin Fetchit.