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The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Despite critics, VH1's 'Single Ladies' gains viewers

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ATLANTA - Actress LisaRaye McCoy has heard of some of the harsh reviews of her VH1 romantic comedy series, "Single Ladies," that call the show's script and acting subpar. But McCoy says numbers speak louder than words.

"We proved them wrong and it has lasted," said McCoy, who stars as Kiesha Green on the show, which airs Monday nights on VH1. The hour-long series is about three very fashionable women who are best friends dealing with the trials of dating and relationships. It also stars Denise Vasi (Raquel Lancaster) and Charity Shea (April Goldberg).

"It's a foundation of girls that are friends and (who are) real, bridging the gap, showing the women out there that you can get along and have fun with each other," McCoy said. "It's something different than the (stuff) they are showing on reality television."

This season's guest stars include rapper T.I., LaLa Anthony and Keke Palmer.

When "Single Ladies" debuted in 2011, some critics said the female characters seemed to be "operating from a false sense of empowerment." The series was also criticized as being "replete with tired situations" and having "stiff dialogue."

But the show has been attracting viewers. According to the Nielsen company, the second season of "Single Ladies," produced by Queen Latifah's Flavor Unit Entertainment, averaged 2.3 million viewers. The season three premiere drew 2.6 million viewers and scored 1.74 in the ratings, a 51 per cent increase compared with the previous season's debut.

VH1, which is striving to produce a non-reality show that appeals to women, believes the popularity of "Single Ladies" will grow with the addition of former Destiny's Child singer LeToya Luckett, who plays an unsympathetic record executive.

"You always feel like you kind of have to raise the bar every season," said Jill Holmes, the network's senior vice-president of West Coast production and development. "I definitely think there's pressure anytime you have such an avid following such as 'Single Ladies.'"

Vasi said the drama of the characters' dating life in a lavish setting offers an intriguing element. But she also noted that viewers like to check out the characters' stylish outfits.

"That's a big part of our show," said Vasi, whose character runs a popular boutique in Atlanta. "We are teaching and influencing the audience, saying, 'Hey, you can try something like this.' Or like in 'Sex and the City,' you'd watch Carrie (Bradshaw) wearing outfits you really didn't understand all the time, but it was a choice and you had to respect it. ... We are doing the same thing."

Luckett feels confident about the future of "Single Ladies."

"People with the show have been very hands-on, making sure this comes out to be great," she said. "Normally, everybody is showing up for a check. I've been on sets like that. They're like, 'OK, when am I getting paid? Where is my per diem?' Nobody really knows their lines.

"But this feels different. It's positive energy, even for girls. Everybody has been so sweet to each other, and I love that. I think those have been ingredients to making this a great show."

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VH1 is owned by Viacom Inc.

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Online:

http://www.vh1.com/shows/single_ladies/season_3/series.jhtml

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Follow Jonathan Landrum Jr. on Twitter at http://twitter.com/MrLandrum31

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