THE SERIES “Ladies Night”
WHEN | WHERE 10 p.m. Tuesday, BET
WHAT IT’S ABOUT The series gives a behind-the-scenes look at hip-hop group Salt-N-Pepa, including Melville’s Cheryl “Salt” James, preparing to launch a residency at the Paris Theater in Las Vegas, while also readying an international tour with R&B group SWV. Spoiler alert: It doesn’t go smoothly. “We’ve always been the only women on the tour,” Salt tells Pepa early in the debut episode. “It’s always boys. We’ve never toured with girls. Ever!”
MY SAY Salt-N-Pepa has always balanced serious and fun pretty well. “Let’s Talk About Sex” addressed the issue sincerely, taking all the good things and the bad things that may be. “Whatta Man” sketched out gender roles from a fun, feminist point of view. And the groundbreaking hip-hop group bring that balance with them in their new docuseries “Ladies Night.”
The show opens with another career milestone for Salt-N-Pepa. Sitting on the stage of the Paris Theater, where they would launch the first hip-hop-themed residency in Las Vegas, Salt and Pepa take in the moment. “We can do whatever we want with this space, create an experience for our fans who been with us for 32 years,” says Salt, revealing that she has just divorced her husband of 18 years, who has been her significant other for 28. “This is our time. It is now. We gonna keep building the women and the power that we have 'cause I’m done with men.” Then, the show bounces to South Africa, where SWV (Sisters With Voices) is on tour, and then on safari, where SWV member Taj (Tamara Johnson-George) is shouting out to lions and worrying her bandmates.
It’s an entertaining combination. For every power meeting, where Salt tries to hammer out business plans for the upcoming tour, there is generally a fun outing to a trendy Vegas boutique or restaurant.
Another reason “Ladies Night” seems so promising is that Salt-N-Pepa and SWV are all veterans of previous reality shows. They know what makes for good TV and they all know how to speak up for themselves.
When SWV’s Coko balks at having Salt-N-Pepa’s “Push It” being the finale on the tour, she makes a powerful, if possibly misguided, point. “I want us to be equal to S-N-P, and right now it doesn’t really feel equal to me,” Coko says. “It just seems like S-N-P is running the show and SWV is here for the ride.”
On that kind of potential drama alone, “Ladies Night” is feeling right.
BOTTOM LINE A fascinating look at how shows and tours come together mixed with “Real Housewives”-style drama from Salt-N-Pepa and SWV.