When is it appropriate to exit a relationship?
Is cheating ever OK?
Why does this generation feel entitled to a “hoe phase,” so to speak?
Are career opportunities worth sacrificing a marriage?
These conversations might typically be imagined in a close circle of friends, glass of wine in hand. But what happens when complete strangers sit in a room to debate topics such as love, work, politics, religion and sexuality — with a video camera recording every moment?
A local media company, UrbanSocial TV, decided to find out. Their new weekly YouTube series, The Situationship Circle, films Charlotte-area residents as they discuss hot topics at the Harvey B. Gantt Center.
“In most cases, it’s human nature to surround ourselves with people who have similar viewpoints to our own, but to me that doesn’t foster a lot of growth interpersonally because it doesn’t challenge you to think differently,” said the show’s creator, Malia Brown.
Hosted by Norman D’von and Toni Brion, a rotating core group begins a discussion on a named topic. Other cast members are seated around the perimeter, and they speak up when someone says something that doesn’t sound quite right.
In Episode One, D’von asks, “When is it OK to end or step out of a relationship? It doesn’t have to be sexual, because we all know that cheating is non-sexual sometimes.”
“I’m not gonna get into a relationship if I still feel like I want to mess with other girls,” cast member Colton Palmer said.
“Let’s be a little more serious: What happens when you’re in a relationship, and your spouse is in an accident? Your spouse mentally is still there but physically can’t fulfill any of your needs?” D’von said.
“God forbid, I got married and my wife got in an accident, she’d have to understand I gotta live life too,” Palmer said. “I’m gonna stay with her, I’m gonna see if she’s cool — you know, with me doing my thing elsewhere.”
D’von then asked about two partners, working hard on their careers but on separate coasts, unable to fulfill each other’s sexual needs. Is it then OK to cheat?
“Don’t tell me that s–t — I’ll cuss you out,” host Brion said. “I genuinely believe people are going to do what they’re going to do. If you’re going to cheat, just don’t bring that s–t home to me.”
“If we are in a committed relationship, and you have the nerve to tell me about some sexual needs — even though you know I’m physically ill or even though you know I’m battling depression or I’m trying to build a legacy, and we talking about sexual urges — is not necessarily like I’m trying to dismiss what my partner is saying, but it’s a personal challenge,” cast member Shantelle Walker said. “I think we should personally challenge ourselves to go a little bit deeper than the surface area because a relationship is not just sexually based.”
And so it goes, around the circle and the perimeter, with MTV’s Real World-style confessionals filmed off to the side, where cast members can say how they really feel about the conversation. No topic is off-limits and nothing is censored, enabling the topics to be explored as deeply as the cast wants.
“Although it may ruffle some feathers, at the end of the day, you’ll notice how certain cast members started out on one side of the spectrum with their viewpoints; but after hearing others, their perspective changes,” show creator Brown said. “I truly believe that tension arises amongst people because of a lack of understanding.”
At the center of it all is Charlotte itself. The show’s trailer features several shots of the city skyline, with a focus on the recognizable lights of the Duke Energy Building. Cast members are filmed on recognizable Uptown streets. Viewers are invited to continue the conversation by commenting in the YouTube feed.
“One of the main reasons why I was inspired to create this show, was because of the vast amount of talent here in the city, and the lack of creative outlets for them,” Brown said. She said The Situationship Circle and the UrbanSocial TV network are both intended as a home for Queen City creatives.
“Everybody thinks that they have to move to L.A. or New York to make it big in the entertainment industry, but we are bringing that vibe to Charlotte to make it another epicenter for entertainment,” Brown said.