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Six Reasons Why Black Ink Crew Is The Realest Reality Show Ever

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1. Because everyone is trying so damn hard. Each character on this show is struggling with something — Ceaser with running a business while suppressing his latent affinity for niggatry, Dutchess with sanity, Teddy with finding shirts that fit, etc — and their efforts are so palpable that it manages to make a show about a tattoo shop in Harlem compelling. With other reality shows, you care about what happens to the characters because it makes for good TV. On Black Ink Crew, you care because you don't want them to be predicate felons.

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2. Because everyone is trying so damn hard…except for O'Shit. There are people who do a very good job of convincing the world they give no fucks. Rihanna. Joe Biden. Bill Belichick. Ron Swanson. But all of these people give some fucks about some things. Their worlds are not completely void of fucks. They just appear to not give many fucks about how they're perceived. Which also suggests a lack of fucks, but they give enough of a fuck to attempt to convince people they give none.

O'Shit legitimately gives no fucks. He gives none about his employment status, his freedom, his kids, his baby mommas, his relationships, his friendships, and even his craft. The only things you can argue he gives any fucks about are getting high and having unprotected sex with moderately mentally challenged women. In the history of strikingly appropriate inappropriate nicknames, there has never been a more strikingly appropriate inappropriate nickname than O'Shit.

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3. Because I've been watching this show for three seasons now, and I still have no idea what anyone other than Ceaser and Dutchess actually does for a living. Which, if Black tattoo shops are anything like Black barbershops, is an accurate representation of real life. There are currently four barbers employed at the shop I frequent, but eight to ten of the same people are there every time I'm there. And they all appear to be on the clock, but their only job duties seem to be to create daily shenanigans, provide commentary on daily shenanigans, and order chili cheese fries.

4. Because everyone at one point in their lives has dated someone like Dutchess. And, if you've never dated someone like Dutchess, you are someone like Dutchess. She is a conglomeration of both every intriguing and every frightening man or woman anyone has ever been interested in. Watching her on screen is like watching a YouTube cat video while sitting in a canoe going down a vertical waterfall. You don't know whether to laugh or relax your sphincter so you just do both.

5. Because Puma's mother-in-law might actually murder him before the end of the season. This is not a joke. I am legitimately fearful for his life. A part of me hopes someone who knows Puma reads this so he can tweet or email us to let me know he's still alive. Because I have absolutely no doubt his mother-in-law has murdered people. And might murder Puma.

6. Because, despite all the fights, fires, people getting fired, people fighting on fucking islands, and possible scurvy, it's apparent that these people like each other.  The Black Ink Crew is actually a crew. A family with parents (Ceaser and Dutchess), a creepy cousin who just sits in a rocking chair on the deck watching amateur porn on his iPad (Walt), the kind-hearted aunt who talks to spirits and carries a bucket of kale in her purse (Sassy), and the still-recovering addict not allowed past the basement steps (O'Shit). What's not real about that?

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB, a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times, and the author of What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker (Ecco/HarperCollins)

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DISCUSSION

Mona needs to just go for the jugular and have a show with O'Sh*t, Steebie, Peter, and Rich Dollas and call it "Nawl. Just Nawl."