The bizarre appeal of ‘Flavor of Love’

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

flava flav california raisinLola Ogunnaike just wrote a great article for The New York Times examining the overwhelming success of VH1′s reality show “Flavor of Love.” 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.

(Her observation that Flavor Flav “bears more than a passing resemblance to a California Raisin character” is also hilariously spot-on!)

Personally I can’t stand the show. Even having to hear it play in the background (my boyfriend is a loyal viewer) makes me nauseous, mainly because of all the slurping noises — presumably from when the girls make out with Flav. *shudder*

And yet, I know so many perfectly intelligent, conscious people *coughJenChaucough* who can’t help but watch the show. Is it just the can’t-look-away trainwreck-quality of the show? Or is there some deeper appeal?

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.

“Anytime we mention ‘Flavor of Love’ on our show, the phone lines start blowing up,” said Donnell Rawlings, a New York morning radio personality on the popular hip-hop radio station Power 105.1. “Good or bad, our listeners love talking about Flav. They can’t get enough of it. You’ve got beauties and you’ve got the beast, and it’s become one of those shows you must watch every week.”

In any case, fans of “Flavor of Love” and Flava Flav are in luck. Apparently, the franchise is expanding:

Mr. Cronin said he and his partner are working on a spinoff of “Flavor of Love,” which will feature 20 men vying for the affections of one woman. This doesn’t mean VH1 viewers have seen the last of Flav. Ideas for a nighttime talk show, an animated series and another reality show, where he acts as a Cyrano de Bergerac dispensing dating advice, are being batted around. He also plans to release a self-titled independent album on Halloween.