What Are "GRITS"? VH1's New Series 'Hot GRITS' Isn't Necessarily Doing Southern Girls Wrong
You may have heard of grits, the Southern side dish that's essentially ground up corn. You may have even seen the movie True Grit. However, VH1's new series Hot GRITS promises to be a fun look into the lives of six girls in Southern Georgia. So what does GRITS mean when its not paired with a side of delicious shrimp? It's an acronym for "Girls Raised In The South" and believe you me, you saw at least three girls wearing that on a tee shirt on the daily at school if you're from the South. It's an all-encompassing term, but you have to wonder if the TV show Hot GRITS give other real life GRITS a bad name. Being a self-identified GRITS, I decided to investigate.
To be fair, I was raised in North Carolina, which is a far cry from South Georgia where the show takes place. Just like the term GRITS, I can't speak for every Southern girl out there. Comparing the Old North State where I grew up to a town like Valdosta would be like trying to compare Maine to Connecticut or Southern California to Oregon. The South is not a monolith. It did teach me a more daring way to use sarcasm, but sometimes the most "Southern" thing about me is that I hate wearing socks outdoors. However, I can still watch the show with a wary eye and make judgements.
Honestly, I don't think this show is making all GRITS look bad. Maybe I'm biased, but nothing was too cringe-worthy to me. The most stereotypically "redneck" thing the girls did was eat "coon meat," as in raccoons. It was balanced nicely when the girls tricking their snobbier friend into eating it in a "steak salad." Hilarious! The series does a good job featuring girls who consider themselves to be more "country" and rough versus "charm" and classy. Each girl has their own different strength, intelligence, and weakness. In a way the show is busting as many stereotypes as it perpetuates, which seems honest. In fact, a subplot in the pilot episode has the girls rallying together to kick out an abusive ex-boyfriend. That's pretty dang feminist to me, GRITS power!
There is of course a caveat: Most people aren't going to say the smartest things when they're drunk and on camera. But at some point there are so many reality shows about young people drinking and partying and doing dumb things all over the country that you can't really say that any show speaks poorly about a particular group, if anything it's proving that we're on the same page. As it turns out, young & old people everywhere like to drink and party and do dumb things. Who knew?
Plus, in the first episode, nothing is really all that bad. Nobody got sloppy. Nobody was offensively conservative. Nobody was overly nice either (which is a weird stereotype about Southern women I've never fully understood). Bless their hearts.
Still, the show isn't perfect. One thing that could better represent the South is racial diversity, especially in a small town that's 51 percent African American according to the 2010 census and also considering that one of the girls goes by the nickname "Ratchet". All of the girls are White with the exception of Bear, who is half Filipino. So that's not great.
But not all GRITS are like these girls. Not all GRITS are anything. If I made a show called Hot GRITS about how my friends and I rehearsed Community Theatre musicals in an old mill, made up the game "x-treme barefoot bocce ball" and snuck out of class to get frozen yogurt, nobody would watch. That was my experience as a GRITS. Like I said, the South is a big place. Basically, the VH1 series does not give GRITS a bad name because it can't be done, we're too great.
Images: VH1 (3)