TV & Movie Reviews

Bringing Up Ballers: First Impressions

Living in Chicago, I’m always excited whenever there’s a new show based here in the city. Bringing Up Ballers premiered last night on Lifetime, and going in I was open minded and excited. Especially since the show is about young basketball hopefuls.

A little background on the show. Bringing Up Ballers highlights five women in the Chicago area who have kids that are basketball superstars, hoping to make it to college and beyond with their skills.

The first mom we meet is Peytyn Willborn. Peytyn describes herself as the head of all of the women on the show. She boasts being a black female owner of a local Italian restaurant. Peytyn’s son George is at the end of his senior year and he has not committed to a school. Peytyn wants George to stay in the Midwest close to home, but George feels his talents will be better showcased at a school elsewhere, especially on the East Coast (at the present time, he is currently playing at University of Texas at San Antonio).

Next up we have the self-proclaimed “Twin Towers,” Nikki Burnett and Johanna Leia. Nikki prides herself on being a lout mouth basketball mom. She is a real estate broker, and the owner of a basketball apparel line. Her son Nimari is 14 years old and has been nationally ranked since he was in the fifth grade. Johanna, Nikki’s side piece, describes herself as a M.I.L.F., and loves for all eyes to be on her. The former Ford model is now the owner of a youth basketball camp. Her son Amari is 12 years old, but he, as she says, is already playing competitively against 15 and 16 year olds.

Our next mom is not new to the world of basketball. From basketball mom to basketball wife, Heather Williams is the ex-wife of Aaron Williams, a former NBA player of 15 years. Heather is now a salon owner, with three little athletes of her own. Her eldest daughter Danyelle gave up basketball when she accept a scholarship to play volleyball at Northwestern. Her younger daughter Cameron and her 12-year-old son Aaron Jr., play on multiple basketball teams around the city, and attend some of the city’s most prestigious schools.

The last mom, Tiffany Lynn, was not introduced this episode, but what we can gather is that she is a mom of five from the suburbs, who is the owner of a custom auto repair business. Although she has five kids, Tiffany spends most of her time preparing her 15-year-old son Michael for his future in basketball, as she believes he has a chance to make it to the NBA.

Although it’s only been one episode, I already have some thoughts on the show. I do think it’s an overall cool concept. We haven’t really had a show like this, where we see moms preparing their young sons for their possible futures in basketball. We’ve gotten shows about dance, and singing, but nothing about basketball, so that makes it different.

Since the show takes place in Chicago, I would have liked to see the show from a different angle. With Chicago having the reputation that it has, many kids have no way out except for their talents on a basketball court or a football field. With the title being Bringing Up Ballers, I thought it was going to show middle class families who may not have a lot of privilege, but have a child who is extremely talented in basketball, and they will stop at nothing to make their kid successful. The families featured in this show are well off. They live in nice homes, they have their businesses, and the kids, for the most part, attend the best schools in the city.

Since that is the case, I think it takes away from what the show could have been and makes it just like every other reality show we see on TV. On the flipside, I do enjoy the fact that we get to see a more positive side of Chicago. The city isn’t all gang violence. There are still people here who are making something of themselves.

I think (or actually, I know) the thing that bothered me the most was the moms. The moms honestly drove me crazy this episode. Some of the moms were so extra. I felt like the show was too focused on them instead of really highlighting the kids and their skills. I couldn’t get down with the way the moms dressed or the way they behaved. At times it was pretty embarrassing, but hey, it’s reality TV, what do we expect?

Overall I’d give the show a C rating for its premiere. I want to give it the benefit of the doubt, since it was only the first episode. Will I be tuning in for future episodes? Maybe here and there. But I can’t see myself committing every week. I was expecting the show to be something different, and I had different expectations for it. Even though I do think this show would be better from a different perspective, anything that shows Chicago as something more than a warzone is alright with me.


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