CHARLOTTE, NC (Theoden Janes/The Charlotte Observer) - If the people creating all the buzz around a supposed forthcoming reality TV show titled "The Real Side Chicks of Charlotte" are simply playing an elaborate prank on the Internet, well, it's a pretty good one.
Yup. Don't adjust your... whatever device you're reading this on: Apparently, there's a reality show now filming within our city limits that "depicts the good, the bad, and the ugly situations of being a certified Side Chick" (and I hate to have to go over this, but in case that's a new term for you, a side chick is a mistress).
It all started about a week ago, when @therealsidechicksofcharlotte established an account on Instagram and this video tease was quietly slipped onto YouTube:
Since then, the Instagram account has posted a steady stream of content, including steamy promotional photos of the show's female cast members and screenshots of incredulous-sounding social media chatter about the show – including this:
@badgirlriri, by the way, is pop star Rihanna.
But is "The Real Side Chicks of Charlotte" really real? In addition to lots of comments on lots of the posts bemoaning the further degradation of Charlotte's reputation (valid point) and Americans' viewing habits (valid) as well as the negative light they think it casts on African American women (valid), there's been a healthy amount of skepticism about whether this is a parody of Bravo's "Real Housewives" franchise in the vein of BET's "Real Husbands of Hollywood."
Along those lines, Bossip, an online gossip and entertainment magazine that focuses on African American celebrities, posted a column on Thursday explaining why it was suspicious.
"1. If you peep the IG (Instagram), none of the girls have been tagged in the pictures. And nobody in the comments say they know these chicks. If these women were real, wouldn't they have IGs tagged? 2. No reputable site has written a story about the show. 3. No network has claimed that they are airing the show. Of course, this could just be a Youtube show but still. 4. It just all looks really fake. This is most likely a parody."
Also, there's this:
Of course, if "The Real Side Chicks of Charlotte" does turn out to be a real show that sees the light of air, it won't necessarily be ground-breakingly, forehead-smackingly stupid.
To-catch-a-philander hidden-cam series "Cheaters" doesn't air in Charlotte, but the 17-year-old show is syndicated in Raleigh and Greensboro; it's been years, but I've watched it, and I regret having done so. ABC's "Are You Hot?: The Search for America's Sexiest People," which lasted six episodes in 2003, seemed to be a sure sign of the apocalypse. And if you watched any of the 33 episodes of "Dating Naked" that aired on VH1 between 2014 and 2016, SHAME ON YOU.
Oh, and to answer your burning question: Yes, I did actually try to do a little reporting on this. There's only so much that can be done, since the show's website is simply a photo of seven women with bad-looking attitudes, but I sent an email to ... someone? ... via the link on the Instagram account, and received this response from a David Paul:
"Yes, this is a real show."
I asked for names of people involved with producing or running the show, and he said that the producers are Pete Pitrelli and Marcus "704" Frazier, and the director is Dale Stelly. Pitrelli and Frazier aren't listed in the Internet Movie DataBase – which doesn't support his claim that "we have TV producers who have worked on major movie projects" – but Stelly has produced, directed, written and starred in several low-budget comedies with titles like "Sweet Potato Pie, "JC In the Hood" and "Tha Crib."
Paul also said filming of "The Real Side Chicks of Charlotte" will wrap here at the end of July, and that they are "in negotiations with a few different networks."
As for what he thinks of all the Internet skepticism? "Amusing," Paul said.