Married to Medicine
The cast of Bravo's "Married to Medicine" (Instagram)

A collective gasp was heard around the Twitterverse during Bravo’s Married to Medicine reunion last week when legendary reality show showrunner Andy Cohen brought together Quad and Dr. Gregory Lunceford for the first time since the announcement of their divorce. With the other couples watching from backstage, the train wreck of toxic masculinity occurred.

During part III of the reunion show, it was revealed that physical violence had become a part of the Lunceford’s marriage. They both admitted to engaging in physical altercations with Greg accusing Quad of pulling a knife on him while she detailed how he brutally tried to suffocate her, pushed her into a wall, and dragged her by her hair through their home, “permanently messing up her knee.” They both accused each other of emotional abuse including  Quad’s further accusations of Greg’s cheating, which he denied despite previously admitting to engaging in inappropriate behavior with a woman at a hotel during last season’s reunion show.

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This is a couple who has experienced prior domestic violence arrests where Quad had asked for Greg to be, “temporarily and permanently restrained from harassing her or committing acts of violence toward her,” in her divorce filings. Yet and still, Cohen and company thought it good television to have them meet on stage during the reunion show with Cohen serving as moderator. It was great television — a stellar, modern-day example of toxic masculinity — regressive male behaviors and traits that perpetuate male domination,  devalue women and justify the use of violence in any scenario.

Cohen, who is a lot of things, but not a psychologist, continued the interview instead of ending it once it was made clear that he was out of his league in handling this situation. To add insult to injury, Cohen tried to coax Quad into stating she still loved Greg even though she didn’t want to say it because of how “crazy” it would look. Greg, who ironically is an actual psychiatrist, agreed to the sit down, knowing what that means for victims/survivors of domestic violence including himself. Can you say emotional trigger? Quad clearly appeared nervous the entire interview while her soon-to-be ex-husband sat calmly, cooly and collected or what some would call emotionally distant and unbothered by her claims of the violence he bestowed upon her.

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If that wasn’t enough drama, the cast members returned to set with Toya Bush-Harris and co-executive producer/cast member Mariah Huq questioning if Greg had said what he said, warning Cohen to be mindful of using the word “hit” when describing their dialogue. They played down Quad’s fears and tried to protect Greg from being vilified despite his actions.

Like women who vote against their interests, Huq and Bush-Harris are complicit in their oppression of other women—toeing the patriarchal line to, in this case, justify distorted world views about marriage. Backstage, Dr. Heavenly Kimes encouraged Greg to “get his woman” who clearly doesn’t want to be gotten. The dominant idea that love conquers all, women are nothing without marriage, and men should be forgiven for infidelity and physical violence if done in the name of love was re-inscribed all over this episode. These women are married to medicine and so perpetuating ideas of gender that feed toxic masculinity.

During part I of the “Married to Medicine” reunion show, Huq reminds Quad she shouldn’t be on the show because “she is no longer married to medicine [my love].” The years Quad put into being a cast member of the show are suddenly benign because without her physician husband, she no longer has significance.

Marriage is represented as the penultimate prize regardless of whether that comes with being choked out, emotionally starved or publicly humiliated. Physical violence and aggression, emotional distance and infidelity and sexual infidelity are normalized as “men being men.” Thankfully, Dr. Contessa Metcalfe, was the sole voice to say to encourage Quad to end the marriage because of the physical violence between the Luncefords and that speaks volumes about the pervasiveness of toxic masculinity and the collaboration it takes across all genders to continue.

Reality T.V is often criticized for having no value, but part III of the “Married to Medicine” reunion show clearly proves otherwise.

Nsenga K. BurtonPh.D., is an award-winning writer, entrepreneur, and professor living her best life with her daughter, Kai, and fur-son, Mr. Miyagi. She is founder and editor in chief of The Burton Wire, a news blog covering news of the African diaspora. She is co-editor of the book Black Women’s Mental Health: Balancing Strength & Vulnerability. Follow her on Twitter @Ntellectual.