On the Season 3 premiere of “Brat Loves Judy,” the reality series starring Da Brat and her partner, Jesseca “Judy” Harris-Dupart, the legendary rapper is experiencing what she describes as “the worst pain she’s ever experienced.”
“Ouch, ouch, my God,” Brat screams.
If that didn’t drive the point home enough, Brat (aka Shawntae Harris-Dupart) elaborates in her confessional that even as someone who’s been shot at and grazed with a bullet, burned themselves, and had their trademark braids snatched, nothing quite matches the intensity of that previous scene.
Much as the viewers might hate to see anyone experience such a level of discomfort, it was for a great reason and a widely celebrated cause: the couple’s IVF journey, which is chronicled throughout the third season of the We TV series. In 2020, Brat ― the first solo female rapper to release a platinum album, her 1994 debut ― announced via Instagram that she was in a relationship with Judy, the founder and chief executive officer of Kaleidoscope Hair Products.
“I’ve always been a kind of private person until I met my heart’s match who handles some things differently than I do,” Da Brat wrote. “It’s so overwhelming that often I find myself in a daze hoping to never get pinched to see if it’s real so I can live in this dream forever.”
We have more diversity in the LGBTQ+ community than is often depicted on TV, and shows like “Brat Loves Judy” help fill the void of what’s missing.
In its annual “Where We Are on TV” report — which assesses and analyzes the number of LGBTQ+ regular and recurring characters on scripted series on all the various platforms — GLAAD found that while representation is down collectively, there has been more queer representation among nonwhite characters.
As someone who understands intimately the challenges of trying to bring more nonwhite LGBTQ representation to television, that gives me some nominal level of hope.
However, I’ve also long chronicled representation of Black LGBTQ characters in television, and I’ve repeatedly noted that in terms of varied representations of Black queer folk, reality television has provided as many opportunities as scripted TV in recent years, if not more — for the kind of queer people I know, anyway. As much as I hear about the importance of “representation,” it’s never lost on me on what sort of content is championed and celebrated most, and by whom.
As Brat and Judy share their journey, I hope more people will find this show and champion the two women behind it — especially considering the road it took to get here.
There had long been speculation about Da Brat’s sexuality, but the only relationship she ever addressed publicly was the one she shared with Allen Iverson years prior. She was never as revealing as she was in that memorable Instagram post and the interviews that followed — nor had she ever seemed happier.
In a 2020 interview with Variety, Brat explained that until Judy came into her life, it “always felt like being private is the better way to go.” But she didn’t want to compromise on sharing her love publicly, given how forthcoming Judy was about her own life.
“My partner is a social media mogul, and when you get with somebody, you have to meet in the middle,” Brat said. “I was like, ‘Oh shit, I just came out after 20-something years!’”
In a separate interview with Kandi Burruss on her YouTube series “Speak On It,” Brat said she wanted to make it clear that Judy would be “my last partner.”
Years earlier, Da Brat had already successfully transitioned from rapper to radio and TV personality as part of the syndicated “Rickey Smiley Morning Show,” a co-host of Fox’s syndicated “Dish Nation,” and an executive producer and eventual cast member of the reality show “Growing Up Hip Hop: Atlanta.”
The first season of “Brat Loves Judy,” which premiered in 2021, followed the couple and their commitment to building a life together, including Judy planning a surprise proposal to Da Brat and moving her business to Atlanta, where Brat was based, from her hometown of New Orleans.
As much as Brat and Judy loved each other, though, it was not all lovey-dovey the entire season, as Brat’s past posed a possible threat to their future.
In 2019, Brat declared bankruptcy, citing more than $7 million in debt, the bulk of it owed to former cheerleader Shayla Stevens, who won a judgment against Brat after Brat hit her with a bottle in a nightclub in October 2007. Brat was adamant on the show and elsewhere that she did not want her partner to pay for her past mistakes. Judy was just as adamant that she didn’t care, presumably because, as we’d seen on their show, Brat had changed her ways.
This was evident in how Brat handled another conflict in her life: her estranged relationship with sister LisaRaye McCoy, who publicly took issue with not knowing about Brat’s bisexuality or her relationship with Judy until after Brat had already shared the news with the rest of the world.
The road to reconciliation between the two sisters, as well as Brat and Judy’s February 2022 wedding, carried much of the second season of “Brat Loves Judy” and teased where we’d find the couple for the upcoming third: on the precipice of having a child together.
When we see Brat screaming in pain in that sneak peek of Season 3, she was undergoing part of a procedure to get her pregnant. The procedure was successful, but she soon miscarried. She and Judy decided to try again, and now, at 48, Da Brat finds herself married, pregnant and ready to begin a new chapter in her life, one that she has acknowledged she wasn’t sure she would be able to enjoy.
There will be more conflict — involving Judy’s son from a previous relationship — and more scares, such as Judy being told she has blood clots in her lungs. Even so, I imagine the season will end on a positive note, as previous seasons have. These two are so committed to each other, and you want to root for them.
The stars may be a successful businesswoman and a famous rapper turned radio and TV personality, but at its core, “Brat Loves Judy” is a show featuring two Black women in love in the South who seek not only to build on that love, but to expand it in spite of various obstacles.
It’s the kind of love we don’t see enough of — and it’s worth promoting.
Season 3 of “Brat Loves Judy” premieres Thursday at 9 p.m. ET on We TV.