Network TV Attempts to Add More Diversity But Will It Work Out?

9.6.14 ShaSha LaPerf 3 Comments

Hey everyone!


Taking a bit of a break from the housing stuff to write a blog post. We're still in short sale hell and the house we want apparently had more problems then we'd initially thought. So yeah...that's not put either of us in a good mood lately. So I needed to take a break from the housing stuff to write about something to take my mind off of it.

So even though we have a bit of time before fall comes, but trailers for the upcoming fall TV season are already out. Although most of the lead roles are predominately white, we're starting to see a few more people of color getting this chance to shine. Shows like Scandal and Sleepy Hollow were a big hit and even the super campy yet somewhat controversial Devious Maids brought us TV series with more people of color in lead roles. The Mindy Project is having its ups and downs, but managed to hang on. In terms of supporting roles, New Girl, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Helix, Hawaii Five-0, Almost Human (though now cancelled), Elementary, and a few other newer series had roles with POCs at least as supporting characters. And despite the shows somewhat Highlander rule towards it's black male cast members, The Walking Dead is still going strong with the diversity of its cast. And of course the Netflix hit Orange is the New Black is very blunt with its use of a diverse cast.

This year is going to be interesting because it's one of the few times in TV history we're going to get shows that will predominately feature POCs on network TV. The network TV part is important. Yes most people do have cable these days, but a lot of people still rely on staple channels like ABC, FOX, CBS, and NBC for their entertainment. We're getting several TV shows that will feature not just lead or supporting characters that are POCs, but we'll see entire families. It's not just the supporting black character who seemingly never mentioned their family even though we've seen the cousin's brother's uncles' sister's mom of the white leads. Well we will see a few more characters that will likely fit that mold, but it's still good to see that there's some effort being put into representing an entire family. So I wanted to take a look at a few trailers for upcoming series. Yes I will be judging a book by it's trailer. That's what the trailer is for.

Black-ish



Black-Ish is a TV show centered around comedian Anthony Anderson and his family. His wife will be played actress Tracey Ellis Ross who most know from the series Girlfriends. By the way, Ross has a pretty awesome Intagram you all should check out. But back on topic. Cowboy Curtis Laurence Fishburne will also appear on the show. Anderson and his family are living in upper class surburbialand and he's worried that his family will essentially lose their "blackness" as a result. The trailer is already giving us a taste of the type of jokes we'll get.

Honestly, I'm not feeling this one. I think what bothered me about the trailer is that the basic idea behind it seems a bit outdated. Since The Cosby Show a lot of TV series aimed at blacks have done the middle class/upper class family idea, the more recent versions being Are We There Yet? and Reed Between The Lines (which incidentally Ross was also on). Additionally we've seen the "questioning one's blackness" idea on way too many shows. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air would often take on this issue, and it was great script writing and acting that pulled it together. Who can forget Carlton's smack down of a black frat that didn't think he was "black" enough? Black-ish just feels too heavy-handed. Pretty much everyone joke was "Anthony Anderson is SSSSSSSOOOOOOO black but his son doesn't like to do black things!!" "HAHAHAH!" No. These things are really only funny in moderation and again the script writing and the actors have to play their parts well enough for things to work. Just having Anderson being shocked that his son plays field hockey isn't enough. I did kinda chuckle at Ross' comment about her hair and ass. And I do like that more shows are going away from laugh tracks. I'll probably check this show out, but I don't see myself becoming a regular watcher. Honestly I question who the target audience is for this show since the jokes are so damn heavy-handed.

Fresh Off The Boat



Fresh Off the Boat has been making waves since the show was first announced, mostly due to it's controversial name. This series is the based of the memoir by Eddie Huang, a chef and reporter for the sometimes douchtastic Vice. The story follows a young Huang as his family moved from DC to Orlando, Florida and will have to adjust to his new life. Randall Park is probably the more recongizable actor on this show. And we'll see newcomer Hudson Yang--the son of writer Jeff Yang--take on the role of Eddie. From the trailer it looks like Constance Wu is going to steal the spotlight though. I seriously cracked up at the "FOOD4ALL!!!" scene.

This show has a Wonder Years/Everybody Hates Chris feel to it since we'll see the story through the eyes of a young men in a specific time period. What give this show an edge is that again we're not seeing a new idea, but we are seeing it from a different perspective. This will be the second Asian-American sitcom to hit network TV, the first being Margaret Cho's All-American Girl. Yes I know Steve Byrne has a TV series, but it's not airing on network TV; it's on cable. As for Fresh, I do have reservations about this show. For one, it's going to air on ABC, which will also air Black-ish, which has some similarities (characters in trying to fight off assimilation in their "white world"). And like Black-ish, we're going to get a lot of race related jokes. I'm hoping these shows are not airing back to back. Still I'm a bit more interested in seeing this series because although it has the somewhat similar premise, the writing overall feels a bit better than Black-ish. Again the story is based of Huang's life. I'm sure a lot of what we'll see is going to be exaggerated for comedic reasons, but hopefully the plot lines won't feel like a bunch of  forced situations. Plus 90s music and references! I think this show will do well initially since the name has already brought some hype--both positive and negative--behind it. We'll see how this one turns out.

Selfie




This is John Cho's third time in the past few years making it into TV land (he was on the shows Go On and Sleepy Hollow), but this is his first lead role opposite Karan Gillan of Doctor Who fame. The show is obviously based off Pygmalion/My Fair Lady; even the characters' names are similar to the film version. Gillan is a self-centered woman who's obsessed with social media and  hires John Cho to rebrand her as a less shallow and person who has real friends and not just an online life.

I wanted to like this...I really did...but...the trailer...

...is fucking painful. There's just so much...wrong going on. First the title of the show is Selfie a phrase that will likely die out soon. Selfie sounds like it would be a silly sitcom on ABCFamily about a bunch of shallow teens who end up on a Paris Hilton/Nicole Richie type adventure (oddly enough this is another ABC show). I feel like these characters are too old to do this type of show. Second, I really don't see how you can stretch this idea throughout multiple seasons. It seems like at some point you'll want Gillan's character to become "super awesome lovable girl!" and I don't think I'd want to wait seasons for that too happen. I'm sure they'll probably jam some character development in there for Cho as well, but given the show's shallow premise I don't know how far they could go with him. Lastly, I like both Gillan and Cho a lot, but neither character seems remotely likable in the trailer. Don't get me started on Gillan's messy wig (she had to shave her head for her role in Guardians of the Galaxy). I have no interest in watching this show and seeing it hit the cancelled list. Both Gillan and Cho deserve better.


How to Get Away With Murder



I'm probably the only black woman in the world who hasn't seen an episode of Scandal. And for that matter I haven't watched Grey's Anatomy either. This is another one from Shonda Rimes and this time we have Viola Davis as the lead. Davis plays a law professor Keating. She and a few of her students get tangled up in a real murder plot. This show is going to air right after Scandal which is a huge ratings hit, so this series I imagine will do well right off the bat.

But I don't know how I feel about this one either. Again Davis is a great pick. But honestly I'm not interested in these type of shows. I'm definitely more of a sitcom, sci-fi, competitive reality show type of person. LOL oddly enough I can watch shows like Deadly Women, Snapped, and Lock-Up, but I have a hard time actually paying attention to fictional crime related shows. I don't think I'll be tuning in for this one, and will probably avoid reading anything on Twitter and Facebook at that time like I do with Scandal, LOL.


Hieroglyph



Really all I have to say about this one is:
Fuck. This. Show.
In fact I only posted this clip just so I could say that.


So this is just a few of the shows we'll be seeing this season. There are a few other series that we'll see the in fall season that will feature people of color. Gang Related has Sung Kang from the Fast and Furious franchise and rapper RZA from The WuTang Clan. Extant is a new sci-fi series that starring Halle Berry and Hiroyuki Sanada (who is also a series regular on the show Helix). Octavia Butler will have a role in the show Red Band Society. In addition to Gang Related, Cristela, featuring comedian Cristela Alonzo, and Jane the Virgin which will star Gina Rodriguez are a few new series that have Latino/a leads.

So it looks like network stations are putting more effort into getting us some more POCs, but some of these shows I just don't think will make the cut. The funny thing is, even though I'm not interested in watching How To Get Away with Murder of Selfie, (or Gang Related or Red Band Society), I kinda want all of these shows to succeed. Because when a show with a predominately white cast is cancelled (Trophy Wife, or The Michael J Fox Show or Suburgatory), it's just because they didn't have enough ratings. We'll see another show with a predominately white cast the next season and it's no big deal. However, we when have shows with cast that are most POC or have them as the leads, it's because "no one wants to watch a 'black' show or 'Asian' show" and we won't see this again for years, as was the case with All-American Girl. So it leaves me a bit conflicted because I want these shows to survive, but I'm only interested in watching half of them.

So folks will you be watching any of these TV shows?

3 comments:

  1. Take it easy as you're doing. The last thing you want to do is burn yourself out not enjoying yourself.

    Anyways.,while it's great that that more diversity is bring brought on TV,dome execs dont quite know what true diversity still means. Some of them still think its just about having diverse characters but slyly bonk off the minority characters(As Ankh has mentioned in several posts) ,minimize their times on the show or just make their character seem meaningless. Even with some of the diverse shows presented already, it seems that diversity was just a bait nd switch just like they did with Sleepy Hallow. I'm also leery just wondering if they're just putting these shows on just to be putting them on, then they'll say." We had diversity... it just didn't work (in case the show fails) .Lastly, I would love to see more POC leads not be put in stereotypical roles. Though I haven't seen Gang related(Ryan Lopez is hot!),just the title of the series itself is nauseating and I couldn't blame the Latino community for speaking out against it.I mean t, you cant begin to watch the series without thinking it could be about a gang related show.

    In the creation of developing these diverse, it would be nice for them to have good relatable story lines . I was just just reading the news about the possibility of Twisted not returnig for another season. It wouldn't surprise me if it didn't. Initially ,the show was pretty good with a a potentially great love story between the AMBW characters on there and a potential for it to be a great murder mystery/drama but they really screwed it up big time. The writers just sexually exploited Lacey,didn't want Danny to have peace in his life and they just wanted to be the sane one. On top they just screwed up the plot. This was an example of a relatable series that could have been but eventually wasn't because of the storyline.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I watched a few episodes of Scandle and my sisters really liked it but I just couldn't get hipped to the show because of the whole cheating thing ^^; I don't think I've found any new shows that fit my fancy ^^; I've been watching re-runs of Everybody Loves Raymond on Netflix, I would be so happy if they put Fresh Prince of Bel Air on there but for now I'll just sit back and stick to my 90's show re-runs =)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hey, I know you haven't been very active lately. However, I wanted to update you on my blogging platform, because I noticed you have my Panda Ninja blog listed under you "AMBW Blogs". However, I no longer blog there anymore and my new ambw blog is here: http://672014x.tumblr.com/

    Thank you for featuring me. I never told you that :)

    ReplyDelete