Controversial reality TV show "Basketball Wives" has been renewed for a fifth season despite an increase in calls to boycott the program, and the show's executives recently made assurances that the show will seek to reduce the levels of violence going forward.
Shed Media, who produces the show along with the VH1 network, who airs it, addressed criticisms that the show promotes bullying and insisted that cast mates will now be encouraged to resolve their issues in a "non-violent" way throughout the next season.
"Shed Media US is fully committed to telling the compelling stories of the Basketball Wives in a balanced way. Our producing partner Shaunie O'Neal feels strongly about this, and we fully agree with this stance. We support her as she encourages the cast members to work out issues in a non-violent fashion. We look forward to working with her and the rest of the cast on conveying more balance in the next season," a Shed Media statement read.
VH1 echoed Shed Media's statement and said that the network condemns violence, despite various critics' assertions that it actually promotes it.
"Our viewers' opinions always matter a great deal to us at VH1. Lately, there has been a lot of conversation about Basketball Wives, a series featuring strong, intelligent women with very passionate viewpoints, which can sometimes escalate," the statement read.
"We at VH1 agree with and support Shaunie and the show producers' "no excessive physical confrontations" policy on the series moving forward. We are all committed to balancing the candid, bold excitement that the viewers have come to love in the series with storylines and representations they can be proud of. Shaunie has been a strong advocate for a more balanced approach to the show and we, along with our producing partners at Shed Media, are all in agreement about moving forward with that goal," it added.
The reality show follows the drama-filled lives of women who have been romantically involved with professional basketball players, and viewers are often confronted with scenes that feature swearing, slapping, punching, hair pulling and glass throwing among the cast mates.
While the show has received criticisms about violence since it first premiered on April 11, 2010, it was cast member Jennifer Williams' recent decision to file a lawsuit against her co-star Evelyn Lozada's personal assistant that sparked public outrage and prompted calls to boycott the reality show.
Williams was physically and verbally assaulted by the Harlem resident identified as Nia Crooks in a legal complaint, and viewers including renowned celebrities called for the public to boycott the show after it was revealed that the show's producers threatened to sue Williams for filing the lawsuit against Crooks.
"It may be 'comfortable' to be quiet when women of color slap the crap out of each other & run across tables barefoot, but #EnoughisEnough," former "The View" co-host Star Jones wrote on Twitter.
"It sickens me when young sisters think that behavior is acceptable...You're either part of the problem or part of the solution… The impact of toxic television can kill our image, but not paying attention to our #HeartHealth will kill us dead. Now that is #Truth," she tweeted.