Keyshia Cole: The Way It Is

TV review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
Keyshia Cole: The Way It Is TV Poster Image
R&B singer's family reality has strong themes.

Parents say

age 2+
Based on 4 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

Despite the show's somtimes-gritty content, overall its messages are positive ones about the importance of family and survival. Keyshia is open about her troubled background, but there's a clear distinction between her upper-class lifestyle and Frankie and Neffe's more hardscrabble one. The cast is African-American.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Keyshia and Manny claim that they're never too busy for family. Keyshia
reconnects with family and friends and relocates her
sister, her nieces, and her estranged mother to her home in Atlanta so
that they can have a better life; she also sets boundaries for them while
they live in her home. On the other hand, both her mother and sister engage in some
inappropriate behavior and cause occasional problems.


Some yelling, screaming, and throwing furniture (sometimes during counseling sessions), but no one gets physically injured. Many discussions about violence, including references to incidents witnessed in Oakland, CA. Frankie describes almost being beaten to death by a boyfriend. Neffe talks about her desire to kill her husband after she found him cheating.


Discussions about infidelity, including an alleged affair between Neffe's estranged husband and her cousin. Keyshia doesn't allow casual male visitors in the home; both Neffe and Frankie find this problematic.


Language includes words like "hell" and "ass." Stronger words like "s--t" and "f--k" are bleeped.


The series is a promotional vehicle for Keyshia's music. Frequent references to a variety of other R&B and rap artists. Range Rovers and Mercedes-Benz vehicles clearly visible.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Consumption of alcohol (wine, champagne, mixed drinks) sometimes visible. Frankie is a recovering crack addict who served time for drug-related offenses. Neffe is an alcoholic. The show includes many conversations about the impact of addiction on the family.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that while this reality series -- which follows R&B singer Keyshia Cole as she attempts to reconnect with her estranged mother and other troubled family members -- features positive messages about family and survival, it also includes frank discussions about substance abuse, spousal battery, child abandonment, adultery, and other strong issues. Arguing, yelling and cursing (with words like "s--t" and "f--k" bleeped) are also common, and there's some drinking.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byhazel60 March 21, 2009


How many bricks are gonna hit you over the head before you realize your mother is beyond changing! i warn you to go on with your life and keep a distance. You... Continue reading
Parent of an infant and infant-year-old Written bymyawilliams March 16, 2009

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What's the story?

Reality series KEYSHIA COLE: THE WAY IT IS follows R&B singer Keyshia Cole while she tries to reconnect with her dysfunctional family. Abandoned at the age of 4 by her drug-addicted mother, Frankie, Cole spent her youth living with a foster parent in the tough neighborhoods of Oakland, Calif. Now a successful singer-songwriter who has recorded with artists like Sean Combs and Missy Elliott, she finds herself wanting to reconnect with her family -- especially with her troubled mother. In an effort to leave the past behind, Cole relocates Frankie; her sister, Neffe; and her young nieces to her new home in Atlanta so that they can rebuild their lives. Her manager, Manny, and her assistant, Ronique -- who have relocated to Georgia to help her with her career -- support her efforts.

Is it any good?

While the show is a promotional vehicle for Cole's music (she's recording and promoting an album throughout the series), its primary focus is on the value of family and the importance of overcoming your past. Cole's hopes of creating a positive family environment are frequently challenged by her mother's inability to cope with the demons from her past. It contains some difficult moments, particularly when Frankie and Neffe are confronted with the consequences of their negative behavior. Meanwhile, Neffe tries to fit into this new world but finds it hard to let go of some of her bad habits.

Throughout the process, Cole finds herself having to face some of the harsh realities of her childhood. She must also come to terms with older sister Neffie's inability to successfully move beyond the streets of Oakland and build a better life for her own daughters. But the show also offers a glimpse into a family that, despite its hardships, seems to genuinely want to make it work.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the appeal of "celebreality" shows. Why do viewers enjoy watching musicians, actors, and other stars navigate everyday life? Are their lives relatable? Why or why not?

  • What happens to children when a parent abuses drugs or

  • alcohol? How do children cope when an addicted parent abandons them?

  • What happens when these kids grow up?

  • Why do some people (like Keyshia)

  • succeed in overcoming their difficult pasts while others can't seem to?

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