When the pilot for Love & Hip Hop took off, fans were ecstatic about the idea to get a glimpse into some of their favorite artists’ lives and relationships. At the beginnings of reality TV, it was intriguing to get access into the personal lives of celebrities. The original cast of Love & Hip Hop New York included The Dipset General Jim Jones and his girlfriend Chrissy, Olivia, also known as the first lady of G-unit, Emily B, the girlfriend and mother of rapper Fabolous‘ kids, up and coming rapper Somaya Reece, and let’s not forget, Jimmy’s mom Nancy! The essence of the show stemmed from Hip Hop organically, and although drama did occur, music was at the forefront.

Does that purpose still run true in the current seasons of the show?

As the franchise has expanded to three large cities (New York, Atlanta, and Los Angeles) and over five seasons, some may argue that the core of the show is no longer music. Without a doubt, most of the current cast members like Yandy Smith, Rich Dollas, Stevie J, and Omarion truly have an established presence in the music industry, but a good chunk of the ratings are a result of the drama and “ratchetry” of the series. Monami Entertainement and VH1 have collaborated over five years since the kick off of the show, and must have discussed what is marketable and what will keep people watching. Regardless, at the early stages, the show lived up to its title more than it does now.

Love & Hip Hop may have taken another course as far as concept, but the viewership has sky rocketed and the franchise is growing abundantly. In 2014, it was reported that LHHATL reached over 5.6 Million viewers and that number has increased since adding L.A. to the franchise. Whether or not the series is set to be scripted and not “real” reality TV, numbers don’t lie, and they prove that Mona has a plan. Let’s take a look at the evolution of Love & Hip Hop from the trailer of season one above, to the sneak peek of tonight’s episode below!

-Tia Long (@ByTiaLong)