Sardonic Sistah Says

Observations… Ruminations… Ponderances… & Rants from Another Perspective

We Have High-Def TVs but the Shows Aren’t Colorized

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There’s not many ways to catch positive images of minorities on prime time television.  You can tune into episodes of Grey’s Anatomy, Ugly Betty, or Psyche.  You can check out episodes of reality television (depending on the show representations can be iffy).  If it won’t make you feel too old you can watch TV shows geared to Generation Y like the New Beverly Hills 90210, Lincoln Heights or Geek

Or you can watch the Presidential Debates, although the season finale of it will be coming up in two weeks.

The majority of the shows debuting on network television this fall are headed by white characters.  The one exception is an upcoming cartoon on the Fox channel called Cleveland Brown which is a spin-off of the Family Guy.  The supporting actresses/actors voices are African American but the lead character is voiced by Mike Henry, a white actor.

It promises to be funny, but it ain’t the Boondocks.

Almost 10 years after the NAACP ripped the four major networks for the dearth of people of color on their shows the networks are doing better but not by much. 

On many shows minorities are the sidekicks or the sassy best friend like “The New Adventure of Old Christine“.  Or they are integral parts of ensemble casts like “Heroes“.  Rarely are they the lead character or have the main storyline.

“It is an oversimplification to say TV has integrated. It is still white-controlled and people of color are woefully underrepresented,” Darnell Hunt said.  Hunt is the professor of sociology and director of the Bunche Center for African-American Studies at UCLA.

“Many examples such as ‘Ugly Betty’ and ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ do a good job of presenting an integrated cast, but often these are exceptions to the rules.” Hunt added.

Grey’s Anatomy producer and creator Shonda Rhimes sees progress but still thinks there is room for improvement.

”Do I want to see any more shows where someone has a sassy black friend? No, because I’m nobody’s sassy black friend.” Rhimes said.   “I just want to see shows in which people get to be people and that look like the world we live in. The world is changing, and television will have to follow.”

Many commercial networks won’t give minority focused shows a chance because they don’t think they can pull outside the base audience.  The last show on television with a predominant minority cast with a large white audience was the Cosby Show. 

Cable networks have had shows with minorities who have more a dominat story line or are the bulk of the show’s cast .  In previous years cable has taken a chance on shows like Soul Food, Resurrection Boulevard, The Wire and The Chapppelle Show

If you are looking for new shows with a more diverse cast cable TV again is stepping up with offerings such as Cleaner starring Benjamin Bratt on A&E.  Next week Chocolate News with David Alan Grier debuts on Comedy Central.  Comedy Central is also in production with Mad TV’s Bobby Lee to work on a pilot.

Lee’s untitled project will explore culture and race through the prism of African Americans and Korean Americans.

Which of course I’d be very interested to watch.  A show doesn’t need to have elements of my own life to get me to watch but it helps.


Written by rentec

9 October, 2008 at 6:30 am

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