Eat, drink and argue: dinner table spats on reality TV

Anissa Ford's picture

Why do the most famous arguments on reality television take place at the dinner table, even though the dinner table should be one of the most intimate conversational spaces people can share?

One theory is it's generally incredibly difficult to sit, eat and drink with people who’ve angered you.

Famed cookbook and NYTimes bestselling author Teresa Giudice earned her reputation after she flipped a dinner table over at her party. Last week, on Love and Hip Hop Atlanta, what was supposed to be a come to Scrappy and Erica meeting, turned into a big fight before dinner was served. Mama Dee and Erica were yelling and screaming at each other before Erica could put food on the table.

Scrappy and Erica, perhaps, should have invited their moms to a nice dinner at a nicer restaurant. Erica's proved to be quite the tightwad when it comes to spending dollars on others and with her temper intersecting her future mother-in-law's lovely personality, there's no guarantee a restaurant brawl could have been avoided. What should have been a conciliatory family gathering ended up with police sirens and a mother-in-law in the middle of the street.

On the same show, last season, K. Michelle took a stab at Karlie Redd with a fork at a restaurant. On this season’s Love and Hip Hop, Tahiry told Joe off for a third or fourth time at a restaurant table. Joe explained to his younger girlfriend at the breakfast table that he was still in love with Tahiry.

On reality television, bad things happen at the table more often than not.

On Mob Wives, before Renee Graziano left for rehab, Carla held a pointed conversation at Renee with a butter knife in her hand. The group was gathered and were supposed to eat.

Last week, on the Real Housewives of Orange County, Tamra couldn’t sit and eat without removing Alexis from the dinner table. No one will forget the scene on Real Housewives of Atlanta where what supposed to be a casual conversation about money between Sheree Whitfield and NeNe Leakes turned into Sheree Unleashed, loud and shouting at a restaurant in front of cameras and unsuspecting diners.

Traditionally, cultured civilizations take to the dinner table to discuss all and everything impacting a group or family's socioeconomic future. The dinner table is where people should relax, discuss, and reach a conciliatory agreement or, at the very least, conciliatory disagreement.

Perhaps reality television has taken its cue from the cult movie classic Scarface where Tony Montana makes a huge scene in fancy restaurant. After all, reality television stars and Tony Montana are similar icons for achieving the American Dream.

Still, ideally, when the conversation is huge, and people are needed to be on their best behavior, a classy restaurant is the place to go. The huge assumption is that a diner’s defenses will drop in a cozy atmosphere where the food and drinks are good.

Tony Montana made a big mess in a fancy restaurant and 30 years later, all around reality TV, reality stars are proving that hospitality in fine places isn't a reality at all. At least not while cameras are rolling.

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