On February 26, 2006, VH1 made reality show history with the eighth episode of Flavor of Love. A reality dating series where women competed for the love of rapper and Public Enemy member Flavor Flav, its over-the-top camp has only ever been matched by RuPaul’s Drag Race. In this particular episode, Flav had narrowed down the dating pool to three women — Tiffany “New York” Pollard, Brooke “Pumkin” Thompson, and Nicole “Hoopz” Alexander. Upon Pumkin’s elimination, she cemented her season-long rivalry with New York by spitting in her goddamn face and nearly getting her ass beat. It was a glorious moment in reality television. Did Finding Prince Charming reach that point with Sam and Dillon, its JCPenney-brand Pumkin and New York? LOL, no, have you seen this show? But it was the best episode so far.
Sam has picked up Chad’s quest to make with the chin music and find out who the canary in the house is, since Robert has heard he’s a bully. This happens on a three-way date with Justin, where everyone does yoga with each other. This is supposed to be sexy, but yoga is only ever sexy on Instagram and TV; in reality, yoga is gross and strenuous, just like Sam throughout the entire evening. He’s like Little Tramp attempting in vain to not be overwhelmed by the machinery inside his brain, but it keeps whirring and churning toward insanity.
Sam has managed to turn himself into the vilest reality show villain not named Phi Phi O’Hara by violating a black man’s body and then still getting treated with respect by everyone else in the house.
I have to say, watching this episode as a gay black man was borderline traumatizing for myriad reasons. First, Dillon’s behavior turns him into the “angry black man.” There’s repeated quotes from everyone in the house that Dillon has become “loud,” like when he pulls Robert aside at a pool party to tell him that Sam isn’t in the house “for the right reasons.” This is, of course, classic dating-show claptrap. It’s easy to get rid of people for only wanting camera time and not being there for love, even though the only people actually there for love on a reality dating show are damaged graduates of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. Dillon might be overzealous, he might be doing the most, but he’s far from loud in his claims that Sam is an asshole. Everyone also seems to have forgotten Sam’s rant from the previous week about how everyone in the house is against him and his femme-shaming attack on Robby during the first week. Still, Dillon is clearly on one and sinks his own hole even as I cringed watching him fall into a pattern that countless other black people on reality TV shows have gotten stuck in, desperate to be noticed by the camera.
Second, Sam figures out that Dillon has been gossiping about him to Robert (and I mean, he has, so good job, Veronica Uranus), so he confronts Dillon and ends up SPITTING IN HIS FACE after shouting at him: “YOU’RE A SNAKE, YOU’RE A SHEEP, YOU’RE FUCKING WEAK, AND I WOULD LOVE TO BEAT THE LIVING SHIT OUT OF YOU!” I was all for Sam becoming a delicious reality show villain, but he straight-up spit in another contestant’s face and not a single cameraman or other houseguest showed up to intervene. That struck me as ... peculiar. Dillon doesn’t immediately kick Sam’s ass, which tells me that the streets ain’t made for everybody, and Dillon’s why they invented sidewalks. But Dillon also vanishes from the episode like some Hitchcock shit while Sam says peaceful goodbyes to everyone in the house because he can’t take all of this negativity and character assassination. Was Sam kicked out of the house? Did Dillon want to stab him and end up getting sequestered? None of these questions are adequately answered, and Sam’s heartfelt goodbyes from the other men in the house practically absolve him of his abhorrent behavior as he quits the show to buy more of the same V-neck in different colors from the $5 rack at H&M.
Third, Danique is sent packing after a pretty wonderful date with Robert at a vineyard, which continues Robert’s whittling down of all the people of color and people without six-packs on this show. I’m not saying Robert had to marry Danique, but Chad went Brokedown Palace on the house last week and he’s still here. Robert tells Brandon that he’s forgotten he’s in the house completely, then Brandon gives him his SOBRIETY NECKLACE, and someone gets to stay. Paul enthusiastically tells Robert that he’s the first connection he’s had since his DEAD FIANCÉ, who we finally found out died by committing suicide. I repeat: Paul’s fiancé tragically committed suicide and within months Paul is on a reality television show confessing that he’s never been into a guy the way he’s into Robert. This is Rebecca-De-Mornay-in-The-Hand-That-Rocks-the-Cradle-level concerning. This is Ali-Larter-coming-on-to-Idris-Elba-in-Obsessed-level concerning. Either something is very rotten in the state of Denmark or Paul is planning to gaslight Robert once they’re married and kill him for his millions.
Perhaps this is a job for cozy mystery detective Robby? He does love getting to the bottom of mysteries in the house...
Oh, OK, Robby doesn’t give a fuck. Moving on.
I know this is just a superfluous reality show and I know that the hottest, whitest people always last till the end. But that doesn’t make it any less worse seeing Dillon doing shows for camera time and turning himself into a stereotype on cable television. And it doesn’t make my heart sink less when Danique, after vying for the attention of a man who’s nowhere near as charming and entertaining as him, gets the boot and cries because he’s always the “friend” and never the person people fall in love with. You’ll find love, Danique. It just won’t be in this community theater production of Jean-Paul Sartre’s No Exit.
[Note: MTV News and Logo are both owned by Viacom.]