“Preachers of L.A.,” the reality series featuring six successful Los Angeles-based pastors and their families, entered its second season Wednesday on Oxygen. Bishop Noel Jones, Minister Deitrick Haddon, Bishop Clarence McClendon, Pastor Jay Haizlip, Pastor Wayne Chaney, and Bishop Ron Gibson are back with more drama.
The opening episode centers on the newly-married Deitrick and Dominique Haddon’s “sip and see,” a house party to introduce their new baby daughter, Denver Monroe, to close friends. Innocent enough, yes, but contentious conversations and strained friendships cast a shadow over what should be a joyous occasion.
The most poignant moment of the program comes early on. Preparing for the “sip and see,” the two grandmothers of Denver Monroe reconcile their differences. “We’re grandparents, we’re not gangsters!” they laugh. This scene demonstrates the power of wisdom that comes with a lifetime of experience.
It contrasts with the goings-on of the younger stars, which comprise the majority of the episode. The pastors and first ladies seem unable to reconcile their differences without pouring more gasoline on the fire. Issue One: Pastor Jay Haizlip presided over the wedding ceremony of Minister Deitrick Haddon and Dominique, unaware that she was with child. He now feels as if his reputation was compromised in the process. Issue Two: Bishop Noel Jones and his friend Loretta are questioned why they have been together for sixteen years without getting married.
The drama erupts at a meeting Jones calls to discuss organizing an event to help the community. The conversation soon turns to Issue One and Issue Two. Preoccupation over bedroom matters and judging people for their choices temporarily scuttle the conversation about actually doing something positive to help the community. Although some of the conversations sound scripted, you could not script such an allegory about the modern church.
Interestingly, as in the program’s opening episode last year, Minister Deitrick Haddon is the one to speak out about the hypocrisy.
But if you expect to hear the ministers in church and preaching, you can stop and forget it.
We know why individuals invite cameras into their private conversations, but pastors and gospel artists are supposed to be role models. People look up to them. They seek their wisdom and guidance. Reality programs like “Preachers of L.A.” are de facto contradictory to cultivating any kind of respectful presence. The programs only gain viewers when they magnify the messy drama behind the scenes. They succeed by exposing people’s faults. Role models don’t stand a chance in the race for ratings. Every skeleton will to be dragged out and given lines.
“Your mess becomes your message,” says one of the “Preachers of L.A.” stars, seeking to find the silver lining in life’s conflicts and disappointments. Sadly, when it comes to just about any reality television program, the mess is the message.