Queens Is a Highly Entertaining Hip-Hop Soap Opera –

Queens. ABC. Tuesday, October 19, 2010, 10 p.m.

TV writers can get a little crazy in their rooms. A sexual harassment lawsuit a few years back revealed that the writers on FriendsWe spent a considerable amount of time creating a story line where our lovable studmuffin Joey was a serial Rapist. That one didn’t make the air, but other, much-discussed fantasies about the characters Rachel and Monica may have. This one actually was so well-received that Courteney cox eventually added it to her next series, tabloid-journalism drama. Dirt

ABC’s new soap features writers room weirdness QueensIt is apparently far less salacious and more unusual. The loons there have come up with an entire series that crosses St. Paul’s lecture to the Corinthians—”When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things”—with a season-long episode of the tawdry old VH1 documentary show The Music Behind it. Stranger still: It’s actually rather entertaining.

Four women in their 40s are the queens of this title. They were once the Nasty Bitches hip-hop group. The members had just one hit album and then the ladies got into an intense fight over the male manager. They are now on the verge of becoming middle-aged and getting more attention after one of their songs was played on a popular radio program. There’s even talk of a reunion—except that…

Brianna, a singer Eve who was seen in the Barbershop movies), is the married mother of five. “I love to be a Mom,” she declares. She says, “I no longer rap.” Her old name de hip-hop, Prof. Sex seems ironic, since she caught her professor husband dilating a student. The man told her that he’d be back once he had finished his trophy boink.

Jill “Da Thill” (Naturinaughton. Important() is a Catholic who has been raised in the faith and does not enjoy grinding her hips, shouting about bling, bitches, etc.

Valeria (Nadine Velazquez, My Name is Earl and The League) has left music behind to become a daytime TV host in Los Angeles—and then left that job behind when caught playing a dirty on-air trick on a co-host. And Naomi (rapper Brandy a regular on The CW’s The GameIn a Nashville bar, he plays singer-songwriter folk. Valeria describes them as “wives and moms” with ambitious hos.

Let’s not forget the wives and moms! QuestionsThe group’s divisions and jealousies still simmer and occasionally burst into flames. Separated spouses, secrets love affairs and addictions as well as CAT scans are all part of the middle-age experience. Age-related delusions can also cause problems. The Nasty Bitches discover that Lil Muffin, a hip-hop artist from the future, is going to lead their reunion (Pepi Sonuga). Ash vs. Evil Dead, and, honest to God, something called Cheerleader Death SquadThey’re furious that they aren’t considered the mainliners. Unanimously, one of the members replies that “We aren’t a sideshow.” With fervent clarity, he retorts that a promoter is not a sideshow anymore.

It’s hard to fit so many stories into one hour. But Zahir McGhee, writer and creator of the show (ScandalThe actresses do a great job of keeping their characters in line with the script and avoiding falling prey to archetypes. (Tim Story, who directed the pilot, was a music video director back in the day and his experience shows in the frequent dance numbers.) Queens is undeniably a soap opera—a highly entertaining one—but it’s also a wry and often endearing commentary on both the wisdom and the decrepitude of advancing age. The young rapper exults, “Hey nonny-nonny! My nonny drips with gold!” Take it in while it shines, baby.