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Real talk – My Obsession with Red Table Talk by Jada Pinkett Smith

“I speak my truth because it hurts to bite my tongue”. I came across this quote scrolling through my feed a few years ago. Of course, an “a-ha” moment came on and lasted about 0.01 seconds before I started scrolling again – what’s new? I felt enlightened and moved on to the next thing.
I didn’t really think about that quote until I was knee-deep in Red Table Talk. If you’ve heard the names Khloe Kardashian, Jordyn Woods and Tristan Thompson, you might have already had a taste of the show; Woods came on the show to share her side of the Kardashian-Thompson-Woods cheating scandal story earlier this year. Truth be told, Woods’ confessional episode
was in truth, a non-episode.

If the name doesn’t ring a bell, Red Table Talk is a Facebook Watch Series created by Jada Pinkett Smith and follows a sit-down, no holds-barred discussion format, between members of the Banfield-Pinkett-Smith family on a myriad of subjects; from love (self and romantic), to social justice, to mental health and everything in between. Nothing is off the table (pun intended).

Disclaimer: In the spirit of RTT, I’m going to be real with you all; some of these discussions and views might be radical for
certain people who subscribe to certain views – to each their own.

Top 10 episodes of Red Table Talk:

1. Motherhood:

This is the first episode of the show and so naturally a great place to start. The episode is a sit down with Sheree Elizabeth Zampino, the first wife of Will Smith, who talks about the subject of a blended family. Afterwards, the family talk about their experiences and thoughts on motherhood.

2. “Becoming Mr. & Mrs. Smith + Our Unique Union” (2-part episode):

In these special episodes, The Fresh Prince himself, Will Smith, appears as a guest. Jada and Will open up about their relationship 20 years in and discuss their attitudes towards working on making their partnership evolve and finding happiness.

3. Surviving Loss:

In this episode, our three hosts talk about their own personal losses. Dealing with the loss of a friend, family member or one’s self and how they have either overcome or just learnt to accept it.

 4. Body Confessions:

Living in the Instagram age takes its toll; young or old, no one is safe. The ladies talk of their experiences with body image issues. Around 6 minutes in, Willow touches upon the subjects of dating and body image issues as a young woman growing up in the social media age.

5. What Men Really Think About Love:

Actor, Justin Baldoni (or Rafael on Jane the Virgin) and rapper, Wale guest star in this episode. The two men represent different ends of the relationship spectrum and discuss love and their experiences as men. A big part of the episode is the aspect of people falling in love with a fantasy that another person brings, rather than the person itself and thus, at the first sign of conflict, people bolt.

6. Infidelity:

In this episode, renowned psychotherapist, Esther Perel joins the table to discuss relationships and infidelity. What made this episode stand out was that it isn’t your run of the mill discussion on the subject. Perel discusses various the notion of autonomy in marriage and the confusion between changing roles within a relationship, which can be applied to relationships outside of marriage.

7. Girls Trippin’ with Gabrielle Union:

Actress Gabrielle Union comes to the table to talk about finding yourself – happiness, female friendships and dealing with toxic
relationships, friendships and #MeToo movement (issues that are very prevalent in Karachi’s social circles)

8. Growing up Smith!:

Pinkett’s children are the center of this episode. Star and son, Jaden Smith comes to the table and discusses growing up with his sister in their household. The family open up for the first time on their unconventional parenting style and compare it to traditional parenting.

9. Cesar Millan:

Illegal immigrant to American Dream; In a time where immigrants and refugees are held in (let’s be honest here) concentration camps at the US border, Cesar Millan (better known as the Dog Whisperer) reveals his heartbreaking story as an immigrant from Mexico and his journey to success. Millan’s story is a physical embodiment of what immigrants and refugees hope to achieve and is important to share.

10. Facing Addiction: Jada and Adrienne Share Their Family’s Story:
The family opens up about their struggles with addiction and highlight the subject of a functioning addict and how a person is an addict all the same. A highly prevalent issue that isn’t discusses in the mainstream at all. Singer- songwriter, August Alsina and Will Smith’s sister, Ashley Marie join the table in this episode.

It’s a show unlike anything I’ve seen before; a show of and by women of color, inclusive of all ages, Pinkett-Smith’s mother, Adrienne Banfield-Norris, Pinkett-Smith and her daughter, Willow Smith, sit down and talk freely, imparting each of their own wisdoms on each other and on the viewer. Truthfully, it’s a model for how family discussions should be. It’s funny, its riveting, its emotional but most of all its honest. I come away from each episode with a new perspective on an aspect of life.

Its cathartic to see such open conversation and a person speaking their truth on life and everything that comes with it.

I would like to thank Jada Pinkett Smith and Red Table Talk for being a source of comfort and guidance that I didn’t know I needed (and for personifying an Instagram quote for me) – I greatly appreciate it.

Also, I liked it so much…. I have an extra 5 Honorable Mentions (because I couldn’t bring myself to leave them off):

1. EJ & Cookie Johnson – daring to be different:
The wife and son of sports star, Magic Johnson join the table and talk about EJ’s journey of coming out and accepting himself. But apart from that, the subject of trusting your children is discussed.

 2. Domestic abuse – when love turns violent:

One of the most requested topics by fans of the show, in this episode Adrienne shares her story about being a victim of domestic violence which Willow hears for the first time. The episode delves into physical as well as emotional violence and why women stay in those relationships. Adrienne also invites a friend to the table to share her story.

3. Confronting mental illness:
Another highly requested topic by fans of the show, rapper and icon, Kid Cudi, opens up about his struggles with anxiety, depression and suicidal urges and how he turned to drugs and alcohol to cope and his journey to get better. Jada also opens up about her struggle with depression and how she tried to cope with self-medication. The family also talks about recognizing that people often think that success and money will mean they are except from mental illness but that this couldn’t be further from the truth.

4. Tiffany Haddish in the house:
As one of the funniest women out there today, hearing her incredibly tough and sad experiences in her life is extremely jarring. But Haddish leaves your inspired by the end of the episode as her positive attitude towards life and fighting for herself prevails.

5. Surviving Divorce with Toni Braxton:
In the Karachi community, divorce is taboo even though it happens left-right and center and yet it is never properly spoken about. Thus, this episode is important to discuss (not just in Pakistan but around the world). Singer, Toni Braxton talks about her struggles that led to her marriage’s demise and how she felt as if she lost in life by getting divorced but learnt that “surrendering doesn’t mean defeat”.

 

 

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