Being "Married to Medicine" in the middle of a pandemic that is disproportionately affecting Black communities – all while a national racial reckoning is going on – sounds almost like Code Blue will be called any minute.
And Mariah HuQ, the creator and star of the Bravo's reality TV series "Married to Medicine" (Sundays, 9 EDT/PDT), is showing audiences the actuality of it: the good, the bad and the ugly, with an "ensemble cast of all educated Black families."
Now in its eighth season, along with spin-offs "Married to Medicine Los Angeles" and a former Houston edition, "Married to Medicine" follows a group of women who are physicians or married to doctors as they balance their careers and social life.
HuQ, who is the first Black woman to create a franchise at Bravo, says she wants the show to "redefine Blackness on screen."
"I'm committed to telling our story, and other minority and marginalized communities' stories in a very impactful way. It's very important for us to tell our own stories and I think that we've been trying our best to do that," HuQ says.
Ahead of the season finale, HuQ shares what makes "Married to Medicine" unique and what she hopes viewers take away from the show. (Edited and condensed for clarity.)
Question: What makes "Married to Medicine" different from other reality shows?
Mariah HuQ: It is one of the first shows to actually highlight minority families in medicine, and the challenges they face whether they are married to the field of medicine, or married to someone in medicine so it's just such a different social circle, and we face a whole different set of challenges in medicine. I think there are similarities, just with any other reality show, you're going to have strong characters and conflict, that's what makes a great show. But I think "Married to Medicine" is just in a whole different league because medicine itself is so challenging and balancing it with a social life is really, really hard.
Q: Marriage is already tough and I'm sure it's not easy being married to a doctor while in the middle of a pandemic. How do you make it work?
HuQ: I think as with anything, any marriage, any relationship, any job – you have to be fully committed, and this is a commitment that everyone has to make. You're committed to your job, but you also have to be committed to your family as well because if you're not, it won't be balanced and you won't work and we've seen that over the years in "Married to Medicine" with a few couples who faced divorce.
When you start together you realize that there's a lot of delayed gratification. People go into medicine and think, "I'm going make a lot of money and live this amazing lifestyle," but there's a lot of hard work and competition and sacrifice you make to get to just a decent, comfortable lifestyle.
Q: What inspired you to create this series?
HuQ: The inspiration from the show actually came from "Real Housewives of Atlanta." … I was approached about doing "RHOA" and my husband was like "Absolutely not."
The reality TV world was new and somewhat taboo at the time, but he was like, "Why don't you just get back to writing?" and I did. I wrote a treatment about our lifestyle which was the fact that we live, work and play with doctors day in and day out and I thought that it would be an awesome way for people to see the lives of the physicians, outside of the scrubs and the lab coats and see some of the challenges that they face at home. Because most we see is physicians being sterile and strong but to see the other side, I thought would be a great idea.
Q: Why should people watch?
HuQ: We have strong characters, a lot of charisma, and a lot of comedy. People need to laugh right now. We're in such a serious day and age, that we all could use some laughter and authenticity. It's just something different, it can be a breath of fresh air on the right day.
Q: What is something you learned on your journey to creating a reality series?
HuQ: As a woman, you're going to always face challenges, but you have to persevere. It's one thing to get in the door, but you have to find a way to keep yourself there. I still face challenges as the first Black franchise owner but I'm optimistic things will continue to work out as I continue to work with the networks and pitch more compelling stories that the world needs to see, but my advice would be to speak it, believe it and achieve it. If you're serious about it, don't be afraid to break glass ceilings.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 'Married to Medicine': Mariah HuQ talks Season 8, redefining Blackness