Fans of Bravo’s familial reality show “Thicker Than Water” will get the chance to know matriarch Jewel Tankard a little better.
That’s because on Sunday’s installment, Tankard is taking her daughters and daughter-in-law, Shanira, on a field trip of sorts to Detroit, her hometown and the place that made her the woman she is today.
At the heart of her decision to make the trek is her youngest and only biological daughter, Cyrene. The two have been bumping heads as of late because of Cyrene’s marijuana use while she’s away at college. Jewel, who also smoked weed and chose the wrong guys as a teenager, hopes that by showing Cyrene her own imperfect past that Cyrene will better understand her mother’s unrelenting words of advice.
“Cyrene needs to understand her decisions have consequences,” Jewel Tankard, 45, says in the episode, where she later reveals that the police arrested and jailed her when she was Cyrene’s age.
Jewel Tankard also shows the four young women where she grew up and the downtown Detroit location of her parent’s once thriving business, LaGreen’s Discount Records. A pawnshop on the corner of Gratiot and Randolph has since replaced the former music mainstay.
During the visit, Jewel Tankard shoots an episode of her syndicated talk show on the Impact Network and catches up with the network’s beloved owner, Bishop Wayne T. Jackson and his wife, Beverly. The couple also serves as Jewel’s spiritual parents and mentors.
“I’m so proud to see how God blessed you,” Jackson tells Jewel during her visit. “Because you deserve it.”
The exchange between Jewel and the Jacksons is especially uplifting when compared to the tense moments she has with Cyrene. In another scene, Jewel and Brooklyn have a slight disagreement as well. But Jewel insists that awkward squabbles are far better than repressed resentment and anger.
“This show has been a great form of personal development for my family and me,” Tankard said in a recent phone interview. “It makes us address things we would never address. It makes you pull back the layers. It has definitely brought us closer together and that was intentional, because the one thing we said is, ‘we are not going to let this show tear us apart.’ That wasn’t an option.”
As for retuning to Detroit, Jewel Tankard is excited that fans will learn more about her and the city she moved away from some 15 years ago.
“I want people to know Detroit is a great city,” she said. “A lot of phenomenal talent has come out of Detroit. It’s been a black mecca for many, many years. A lot of black people were able to grow and thrive in Detroit and even after the Kwame Kilpatrick scandal and the recession it’s still a great place. And I’m excited for people to see where I came from and my background.”
Mekeisha Madden Toby is a Los Angeles-based television writer and critic.
‘Thicker Than Water’
Airs 9 p.m. Sundays