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Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta
LHHS7Titlescreen.png
Genre Reality
Directed by David Wolfgang
Josh Richards
Earl "Slick 23" Barlow
Jade Sandberg
Starring
Opening theme "This Is The Life"
Composer(s) Lofey
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 7
No. of episodes 108
Production
Executive producer(s)
  • Brad Abramson
  • Mona Scott-Young
  • Danielle Gelfand
  • Nina L. Diaz
  • Stefan Springman
  • Stephanie R. Gayle
  • Toby Barraud
  • Donell Dorsey
Running time 40–44 minutes
Production company(s) Monami Entertainment
Eastern TV
Release
Original network VH1
Picture format 480i (SDTV)
1080i (HDTV)
Original release June 18, 2012 (2012-06-18) – present
Chronology
Related shows
External links
Website

Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta is the second installment of the Love & Hip Hop reality television franchise.[1] It premiered June 18, 2012 on VH1, and chronicles the lives of several people in Atlanta involved with hip hop music. The show features appearances from notable figures associated with Southern hip hop.

On February 16, 2018, VH1 announced the show's return for the seventh season, which premiered on March 19, 2018.[2]

Development[edit]

Rumors of an Atlanta-based spin-off of Love & Hip Hop began circulating in December 2011.[3] Stefan Springman revealed in the behind-the-scenes special Love & Hip Hop Atlanta: Dirty Little Secrets that producers first considered Love & Hip Hop spin-off set in Miami before settling on Atlanta instead, saying that "we found great characters (in Miami) but it just didn't feel right". During the casting process, several names were reported as part of the original cast, including Diamond, Rasheeda, Nivea and CeeLo Green's ex-wife Christina Johnson. Diamond was planned to be the lead of the show, with an source saying "Diamond would definitely be the Chrissy (Lampkin) of the group".[4] Nivea eventually turned the show down, [5] and producers approached Nas's daughter Destiny Jones and her mother Carmen Bryan. They interviewed with producers, but backed out after feeling they didn't fit in with the other cast members.[6] Shawty Lo and his wife Ecreia Perez were cast but dropped from the show, with Shawty later admitting in interviews that VH1 had a problem with the couple's extensive criminal record.[7][8][9] 2 Chainz was also approached but turned it down.[10]

On February 6, 2012, during the finale of Love & Hip Hop's second season, series creator Mona Scott-Young officially announced that the show, then titled Love & Hip Hop: Hotlanta, was in production. Casting rumors intensified, with Ms. Rici, known as Yung Joc's assistant and former mistress, and Waka Flocka Flame's mom and manager Deb Antney reportedly joining the cast.[11][12] The casting of Rici, who was planned to be the "Yandy" of the group, was controversial as she had a long criminal history having been arrested for theft, assault and resisting arrest, amongst other things.[13] Rici backed out of the show days before filming, after discovering producers had planned to air a storyline involving her, Yung Joc and his wife.[9] By March, the cast was finalised and filming began.[9] A few weeks into filming, Diamond broke her contract and officially quit the show, telling producers that she had "spoken to God" and he told her "it was the best thing to do".[14][15] She was replaced by K. Michelle.[16]

On May 15, 2012, VH1 announced Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta would make its series premiere on June 18, 2012.[17]

Series synopsis[edit]

Overview and casting[edit]

The cast of the seventh season, from left to right, top to bottom: Karlie, Tommie, Stevie J, Mimi, Rasheeda, Jessica Dime and Erica Mena.

Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta is a "docu-soap"[17] that revolves around the everyday lives of women and men in hip hop's "dirty south". The first seasons focus on the personal and professional struggles of six women, two of which are known as girlfriends of famous R&B artists and rappers, and the other four are aspiring recording artists. Subsequent seasons expanded to include DJs and radio personalities, stylists, video vixens, glamour models, groupies and socialites. The show has a sprawling supporting cast, consisting mostly of men in the industry, who (in most cases) share the same amount of screen time and storyline focus as the show's leads.

The original cast lineup consisted of Joseline Hernandez, Erica Dixon, Rasheeda, K. Michelle, Karlie Redd and Mimi Faust, with Stevie J, Lil Scrappy, Scrappy's mother Momma Dee, Mimi's best friend Ariane Davis, Rasheeda's husband Kirk Frost, Benzino and Flavor of Love's Shay Johnson rounding out the supporting cast.[18] All cast members returned for a second season, with the addition of radio personality Traci Steele and her former boyfriend DJ Babey Drew. During the season's reunion special, K. Michelle announced that she was leaving the show to join the cast of Love & Hip Hop: New York.

Traci and Drew were fired from the show,[19] and season three saw the addition of Waka Flocka Flame, his long time girlfriend Tammy Rivera and his mother Deb Antney. Waka and Tammy eloped during filming.[20] Other new cast members included Yung Joc, Kalenna Harper and her husband Tony Vick, Scrappy's girlfriend Bambi Benson, actress Erica Pinkett, booking agent Dawn Heflin and Benzino's girlfriend Althea Heart. Shay Johnson filmed scenes for season but after a violent altercation during filming,[21][22] in which she cracked a bottle over a woman's face in a night club brawl, she was removed from the cast and her scenes were left on the cutting room floor. The show's outrageous storylines and scandals throughout season three, particularly Mimi and Nikko's sex tape, Benzino's non-fatal shooting and Joseline and Stevie's allegedly drug-addled behavior at the reunion, drew the highest ratings in the franchise's history and made its cast members tabloid fixtures.[23]

The fallout from the violence of season three's reunion, in which Stevie and Joseline interrupted filming and got into a brawl with Benzino and Althea onstage,[24] affected season four's casting process. Benzino and Althea were removed from the cast after making death threats[25][26] and Tammy, who was also attacked by Joseline during taping, announced that she and Waka were leaving the show to star in their own spin-off show Meet The Flockas.[27] Although there was talk of suspending or even firing Stevie and Joseline for their behaviour at the reunion,[28] season four saw Stevie J finally being promoted to the main cast after appearing in every episode prior as a supporting cast member, and Joseline ended up being absent only from the season's premiere episode. New cast members included Jessica Dime, a stripper-turned-rapper who shares a past with Joseline, Nikko's ex-wife Margeaux Simms, Yung Joc's girlfriend Khadiyah Lewis and his baby mama Sina Bina, aspiring singer Ashley Nicole, Tiffany Foxx and Momma Dee's ex-husband Ernest Bryant (who she remarried during filming). PreMadonna, an entrepreneur known for her waist trainer company, appeared in a supporting role for two episodes. Towards the end of the season, Tammy Rivera returned for three episodes in a supporting role.

After four seasons, Erica Dixon quit the series, calling it "mentally and physically draining".[29] Season five saw the return of Tammy Rivera to the main cast after a season's absence, along with original cast member K. Michelle, who returned from the fourth episode onwards. Season five saw the addition of the controversial King family, which included "momager" Karen "KK" King, her rapper sons Scrapp DeLeon and Sas, Scrapp's girlfriend Tommie Lee and his baby mama Tiarra Becca. Other new cast members included Grammy Award-winning songwriter D. Smith, who became the first openly transgender castmate in the show's history, singer Betty Idol, Mimi's girlfriend Chris Gould, who would reveal his identity as a trans man in an episode near the end of season, Lyfe Jennings, Rasheeda's mother Shirleen Harvell, Kirk's daughter Kelsie Frost, radio personality J-Nicks and stripper Amber Priddy. The season also featured a crossover episode with Love & Hip Hop: Hollywood and K. Michelle: My Life, with guest appearances from cast members Lil Fizz, Nikki Mudarris and Jonathan Fernandez. One of season five's leading storylines was Joseline and Tommie's intense feud, which culminated in an off-camera incident in which Tommie attempted to run down Joseline with her car.[30] In an effort to curb cast violence, the season's reunion format was changed so that the cast would film interviews separately and in small groups, without an audience. After appearing infrequently throughout the season and barely interacting with the cast, K. Michelle confirmed shortly after taping that she had again quit the show.[31]

Despite pending legal issues relating to her incident with Joseline, season six saw Tommie promoted to the main cast. One of the season's leading storylines involved Rasheeda discovering that her husband Kirk had been unfaithful and had a secret baby with stripper Jasmine Washington. Jasmine became part of the show's cast, along with her lovers Rod Bullock and Keanna Arnold, who she is involved in a polyamorous relationship with. Other new cast members included club promoter Melissa Scott, social media personality and nail technician Lovely Mimi, beauty shop owner Sierra Gates, her assistant Moriah Lee and her husband Shooter Gates, aspiring radio personality Tresure Price, aspiring singer Estelita Quintero, Stevie J's daughter Savannah Jordan and Tommie's mother Samantha. Rapper Gunplay appeared as a supporting cast member for one episode, his appearance serving as a teaser for the spin-off Love & Hip Hop: Miami, which would premiere a few months later.[32] Production on the season became increasingly troubled, with later episodes showing scenes of Joseline Hernandez and Kirk Frost breaking the fourth wall to express their displeasure with the producers.[33][34] Behind the scenes during the reunion taping on June 1, 2017, tensions between Joseline, Mona Scott-Young and the other producers exploded, with Joseline announcing that she had quit the show after six seasons.[35] On October 11, 2017, Waka confirmed that the spin-off Meet The Flockas was in production and that both he and Tammy Rivera would be moving on from Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta to star in it.[36]

Season seven saw the promotion of Jessica Dime to the main cast after appearing as a supporting cast member for three seasons, and the return of Erica Mena to the franchise, who previously appeared on Love & Hip Hop: New York for four seasons. New cast members include Jessica's fiancé Shawne Williams, Grammy Award winning songwriter Sean Garrett, Jamaican recording artist Spice, singer Just Brittany, rappers Tokyo Vanity and BK Brasco and music executive Keely the Boss.

Timeline of main cast members[edit]

Cast member Seasons
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Joseline Hernandez Main
Erica Dixon Main
Rasheeda Main
K. Michelle Main Guest Main1
Karlie Redd Main
Mimi Faust Main
Traci Steele Main Guest2
Tammy Rivera Main Supporting Main Guest
Stevie J Supporting Main
Tommie Lee Supporting Main
Jessica Dime Supporting Main
Erica Mena Main

Note:

  1. ^ Appears in the opening credits from episode four onwards.
  2. ^ Appears in an uncredited cameo only.

Storylines[edit]

Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta chronicles the relationship struggles of women and men in the hip hop industry, with infidelity being the most common theme. The dysfunctional love triangle between Stevie J, Mimi Faust and Joseline Hernandez has been the focal point of the show since its inception and its most widely publicised storyline, with the "main chick vs side chick" rivalry being recreated and explored with other cast members on the show and in the franchise.[37]

Many of the show's cast members come from broken homes, which has led to criticism by those who find the show exploitive.[38] Several episodes in the first season document Stevie, Mimi and Joseline taking part in sessions with a therapist, revealing their troubled upbringings. Stevie and Mimi were both abandoned by their mothers at an early age,[39] in Mimi's case, she was abandoned at the age of 13 for Scientology.[40] Joseline also had a difficult relationship with her parents growing up within the public housing system of Puerto Rico, being exposed to drugs and prostitution at an early age.[41] Other cast members come from backgrounds that reflect the economical realities of Atlanta's poorest communities, Erica's mother is a recovering crack cocaine addict, while Scrappy's mother became a pimp in order to provide for her family. Several of the show's female cast members have worked as strippers out of financial desperation, with music being depicted as a escape from that lifestyle.

The show has explored many controversial issues over the seasons. In an early episode, Joseline discovers she is pregnant and decides to have an abortion.[42] In another episodes, K. Michelle reveals her experience with domestic violence.[43] Several cast members have dealt with substance abuse and addiction, with Scrappy going to rehab in season two for marijuana addiction, Stevie J going to rehab in season four for cocaine addiction and Tommie dealing with alcohol abuse in seasons five and six.

Many of the female cast members identify as bisexual, lesbian or sexually fluid, and the show is one of the few television shows to explore LGBT issues from a black perspective. Season five features two trans cast members, D. Smith and Chris Gould, and several episodes featured public service announcements aimed to help viewers struggling with their gender identity.[44]

Reception[edit]

Critical response[edit]

Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta has largely been overshadowed by criticism and controversy, with the franchise referred to as "ratchet TV" for its seemingly negative and stereotypical portrayal of black women and its focus on dysfunctional relationships, materialism, hyper-sexuality and violence.[45] The show premiered in 2012 to a storm of controversy, with some viewers calling for a boycott. One petition described the show as "another beautifully-blinged jewel of commercial exploitation" and compared it to the crack epidemic of 1980s in its potentially damaging and long-lasting impact on African-American culture.[46][47][48][49] Series creator Mona Scott-Young has been singled out in particular for allegedly "exploiting (black women) in her quest for the almighty dollar".[50][51] Scott-Young has continuously defended the show against these accusations, saying the show was not created to represent all African-Americans: "It's set in a specific world and I don’t think that there’s anybody who’s navigated that world who would deny that these things happen.”[52][53]

Despite the criticism, the franchise has dominated the ratings since its inception, and has been described as "riveting"[54], "addictive"[55] "bawdy and hilarious"[56] and a "guilty pleasure".[57] In 2014, Complex named Joseline Hernandez, Stevie J, K. Michelle, Momma Dee and Shay Johnson as some of the greatest VH1 reality stars of all time.[58]

Scripting allegations[edit]

Love & Hip Hop is often criticized for appearing to fabricate much of its storyline. Scott-Young has denied those claims: “I can’t stress enough that the stuff they deal with on (Love & Hip Hop) is real. We may frame it within a production construct that allows us to shoot on a schedule, but we’re not making up the stuff that they’re going through.”[59]

Ratings[edit]

Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta is the highest-rated installment of the Love & Hip Hop franchise, which is itself one of the highest-rated franchises in cable television history.[60][61] In an overview of the television cultural divide, The New York Times reported that Love & Hip Hop was most popular show in the black belt.[62]

After its premiere, the show's audience grew substantially over the season. Its finale garnered 5.5 million people overall, cementing its status as the highest rated show in primetime on cable among adults 18-49.[63] The third season was a huge ratings success,[64] with the series premiere having a combined rating of 5.6 million viewers[65] and continuing to set ratings records throughout the season.[66] The fourth series premiere garnered big ratings for the network, with VH1 announcing a combined rating of 6.2 million viewers.[67] On August 19, 2015, VH1 announced the season as the summer's #1 cable reality series among adults 18-49 and women 18-49 and the 2nd most talked-about television series on social media overall.[68] The sixth series premiere garnered big ratings for the network, with VH1 announcing a combined rating of 5.2 million viewers, up 17% from its fifth season bow.[69]

Cultural impact[edit]

During a speech at a campaign rally in North Carolina on November 4, 2016, President Barack Obama referenced the show, comparing the 2016 presidential race to reality television, saying "I mean, its like some Love & Hip Hop stuff." [70]

Lee Daniels is a fan of Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta [71] and his 2016 Fox television series Star (set in Atlanta) makes several references to the show. Joseline Hernandez appears in a recurring role as Michelle, a stripper. In the second episode, Lenny Kravitz's character is seen watching a scene of the show featuring Mimi Faust and Stevie J. In a later scene in the same episode, Jessica Dime makes a cameo appearance as a stripper. Additionally, Star cast member Jasmine Burke guest starred in Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta's sixth season as herself.

Episodes[edit]

Season Episodes Originally aired Extra episodes
First aired Last aired Reunion Specials
1 12 June 18, 2012 (2012-06-18) August 20, 2012 (2012-08-20) August 27, 2012
September 3, 2012
December 16, 2012
2 17 April 22, 2013 (2013-04-22) July 29, 2013 (2013-07-29) August 5, 2013
August 12, 2013
N/A
3 20 May 5, 2014 (2014-05-05) August 18, 2014 (2014-08-18) August 25, 2014
September 1, 2014
September 8, 2014
N/A
4 19 April 20, 2015 (2015-04-20) August 17, 2015 (2015-08-17) August 24, 2015
August 31, 2015
N/A
5 18 April 4, 2016 (2016-04-04) July 25, 2016 (2016-07-25) August 1, 2016
August 8, 2016
N/A
6 18 March 6, 2017 (2017-03-06) July 3, 2017 (2017-07-03) July 10, 2017
July 17, 2017
May 1, 2017
May 10, 2017
7 TBA March 19, 2018 (2018-03-19) TBA TBA TBA

Broadcast history[edit]

On April 1, 2013, VH1 announced that Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta would be returning for a second season on April 22, 2013.[72]

On April 14, 2014, VH1 announced that Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta would be returning for a third season on May 5, 2014.[73]

On April 9, 2015, VH1 announced that Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta would be returning for a fourth season on April 20, 2015, and would premiere alongside Love & Hip Hop Atlanta: The Afterparty Live!, a half an hour long interactive after-show hosted by Big Tigger.[74]

On March 8, 2016, VH1 announced that Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta would be returning for a fifth season on April 4, 2016.[75]

On February 21, 2017, VH1 announced Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta would be returning for a sixth season on March 6, 2017.[76] With this season, Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta became the first incarnation of the franchise to reach 100 episodes.

Spin-offs[edit]

On October 15, 2014, VH1 announced the spin-off K. Michelle: My Life, starring cast member K. Michelle, would make its series premiere on November 3, 2014.[77]

On August 27, 2015, VH1 confirmed that Stevie J and Joseline Hernandez would star in their own spin-off series, set in Los Angeles.[78] On December 2, 2015, VH1 announced Stevie J & Joseline: Go Hollywood, which premiered January 25, 2016, back-to-back with the second season of K. Michelle: My Life.[79]

On December 1, 2016, VH1 announced the spin-off Leave It To Stevie, starring Stevie J, would make its series premiere on December 19, 2016, back-to-back with the third season of K. Michelle: My Life.[80]

Specials[edit]

On December 16, 2012, VH1 aired Dirty Little Secrets, a special featuring unseen footage, deleted scenes and interviews with the show's cast and producers. The special garnered 1.22 million viewers.[81][82]

On April 19, 2017, VH1 announced that Joseline's Special Delivery, a special documenting the birth of Joseline's child, will air between the season's eighth and ninth episodes on May 1, 2017.[83][84] It premiered to 2.18 million viewers.[85] Additionally, Dirty Little Secrets 2, a special featuring unseen footage and deleted scenes from the show's second season up until season five, aired on May 10, 2017 to over 1 million viewers.[86][87]

Distribution[edit]

Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta episodes air regularly on VH1 in the United States.[88][89] Episodes run from around 41–44 minutes and are broadcast in high definition. The series' episodes are also available on demand through the official VH1 website, as well as for digital download at the iTunes Store and Amazon.

VH1 have released the first two seasons, as well as the fourth season, on DVD. The third, fifth and sixth seasons are currently only available on digital platforms.

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