African Americans and TVLatest News and Opinion
Posted Thursday 7/12/18 at 5:29PM EDT
More people of color were nominated for Emmys this year than ever before
According to TV Guide's tally, 38 people of color were nominated in the top categories, form Lin-Manuel Miranda to Sandra Oh to Trevor Noah. That's nearly double from 2016, when 21 people of color were nominated. ALSO: Sandra Oh and Darren Criss' nominations show the two ways to diversity casting.
# TOPICS: Emmys, 70th Primetime Emmy Awards, Darren Criss, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Sandra Oh, Trevor Noah, African Americans and TV, Asian Americans and TV, Diversity, Indian-Americans and TV, Latinos and TV
Posted Tuesday 7/03/18 at 3:01PM EDT
Anne of Green Gables gets its first black character thanks to Netflix's Anne with an E
Canadian actor Dalmar Abuzeid will play the Afro-Caribbean character Sebastian Lacroix on the Netflix drama from Canada's CBC. Creator Moira Walley-Beckett said she wanted her dark reboot of the classic novel to be multicultural. "When I was first conceiving Anne with an E, I was troubled by the lack of diversity in the book, especially since Canada is such a diverse nation, both then and now," she says.
Posted Monday 6/25/18 at 6:21AM EDT
Netflix airs "Strong Black Lead" commercial during BET Awards, two days after firing its PR chief for using the N-word
The commercial that ran during the BET Awards, featuring prominent black Netflix stars and creators from Spike Lee to Ava DuVernay to Laverne Cox, had been in the works for months before head of public relations Jonathan Friedland was fired on Friday after multiple uses of the N-word during meetings. According to The Hollywood Reporter, "the commercial had been conceived months ago by the company’s Strong Black Lead Team, a cross-functional group of employees spearheaded by black executives at Netflix. The spot was inspired by the legendary 1958 photo 'A Great Day in Harlem,' which featured prominent jazz musicians of the time."
Posted Friday 5/25/18 at 7:45PM EDT
Racial jokes on network sitcoms too often reinforce stereotypes instead of subverting them
There is nothing wrong with jokes about race, says Yoonj Kim, who spent a week in March studying every network sitcom for racial jokes. But, he adds, "there’s a crucial distinction between gratuitous one-stop references and thought-provoking humor: The latter will feature another moment in the same episode that dispels or shows another side to the stereotype being invoked. Context turns the joke from a zero-sum remark to subversive humor that serves as a segue into meaningful commentary. To put it in facetiously simple terms, it’s the difference between 'No offense, but you’re really ugly,' and 'No offense, but you’re really ugly when you do this.'"
Posted Friday 5/25/18 at 7:45PM EDT
Analyzing Black Lightning's first season
The CW DC Comics series was about the afro-present, in contrast to the afro-futurism of Marvel's Black Panther.
Posted Tuesday 5/22/18 at 10:30PM EDT
Issa Rae: Insecure was inspired by the predominantly black TV shows I grew up on: Living Single, A Different World, Girlfriends
Those kind of shows just disappeared, says Rae in a GQ profile. “The takeaway was ‘Agh, black people are so dope. Where are they at on TV right now? Now I want my own version,'" she says. Still, Rae is surprised by the demographics of her audience. “I think what most surprised me was that the audience wasn't 90 percent black,” she says. “I think only 30 to 40 percent of the audience are black people. But I'm like, okay, HBO isn't accessible to everyone. Like, I didn't have HBO. I used my friend's password until the show got picked up.”
Posted Monday 5/07/18 at 10:00PM EDT
Dear White People's Justin Simien pens "love letter" analyzing Donald Glover's "This Is America"
The Dear White People creator, who is four months older than Glover, was blown away by Childish Gambino's "This Is America," which was released on the same weekend as the return of his Netflix series. "For the second time this year I’ve been shifted by Donald Glover’s work,” Simien said in the first of many tweets analyzing the viral music video. “He forced me to confront the effects of consumerism on the lives of people of color in Atlanta Robbin’ Season..and now I feel compelled to stare deeply into the dog and pony show of black popular culture through black culture with ‘This Is America.'" Simien proceeded to analyze the thought-provoking images from the music video. "But this is America, Gambino tells us," tweeted Simien. "It's brutal, but either you participate in the space American culture has allotted you (even if only to play Jim Crow as many black entertainers have and continue to do since the country's founding) or you perish."
Posted Friday 4/27/18 at 9:17PM EDT
Bill Cosby was good at his job, and that's why Cliff Huxtable was his "sickest joke"
"If a sexual predator wanted to come up with a smoke screen for his ghastly conquests, he couldn’t do better than Cliff Huxtable," says Wesley Morris of the iconic The Cosby Show character that made Cosby "America's Dad." In reacting to Cosby's sexual assault conviction, Morris says Cosby being good at his job is why his downfall is so depressing — "depressing," he says, "not for its shock but for the work the verdict now requires me to do. The discarding and condemning and reconsidering — of the shows, the albums, the movies. But I don’t need to watch them anymore. It’s too late. I’ve seen them. I’ve absorbed them. I’ve lived them. I’m a black man, so I am them." Morris adds: "Cliff was affable, patient, wise, and where Mrs. Huxtable (Phylicia Rashad) was concerned, justly deferential. His wit was quick, his sweaters roomy and kaleidoscopic. He could be romantic. Cliff should have been the envy of any father ever to appear on a sitcom. He was vertiginously dadly. Cliff is the reason for the cognitive dissonance we’ve been experiencing for the last three or four years. He seemed inseparable from the man who portrayed him."
- Janice Dickinson reacts to the verdict: I just want him to "rot in hell"
- Revisiting how Hannibal Buress' standup bit helped take down Cosby
- Buress has previously expressed discomfort with his role in the Cosby allegations: “I was just doing a joke at a show," he said on his 2016 Netflix special. "I didn’t like the media putting me at the forefront of it. They were sly, dissing me in the news."
Posted Thursday 4/19/18 at 6:51PM EDT
Scandal helped define the Obama era, but may have also predicted the rise of Trump
Scandal outlived its own era, the Obama era, and was effectively made irrelevant by Trump's victory, says Daniel D'Addario. "Along with Mad Men and Girls, Scandal will be on the very short list of series that defined the Obama years, both for its willingness to engage deep conversations on issues of race and its escapist vision of a world in which scandal was still fun," he says. On Scandal, Kerry Washington's "Olivia Pope was not incidentally black but specifically black," he says. "Her affair with a white President whom she also served was written, more and more as the show was emboldened by success, to explicitly reference Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings. It was a pairing that was touched by the dynamics of power, and a white man in Scandal’s universe, as ours, has more of it than a black woman." He adds: "Scandal’s unique status as a broadcast-TV drama with a black female protagonist, and the way it made that protagonist a complicated woman who had real conversations about what race meant to her, was well-suited to a time in which the President was, for the first time, able to have similar conversations with the nation. The show came along at the right moment, extending a discussion that was at last happening on America’s most visible stages." But Scandal exits tonight amid a Trump administration that is mired in real-life scandal. "The thing is, there are no real scandals on Scandal; the word implies a public reaction of disgust and disapprobation," says D'Addario. "Scandal spends almost no time with the public, and the resolution of each case—from an untidy murder to an election swinging to the candidate the voters didn’t choose—is, as far as we the viewers can tell, acquiescence. Because everything is breaking all the time, nothing sinks in. In Scandal’s universe, the unending stream of news that might once have seemed unbelievable has become background noise. Scandal got, on some level, that occasional dramas are lots of fun but a news cycle that’s only dramas becomes endurable only by tuning out. It was a show whose time passed, in part because it saw too clearly what it’d be like to live through our own."
- Shonda Rhimes still wonders why Scandal only received a seven-episode Season 1 order: "To me it spoke to a lack of faith in the idea that a black woman could be the lead of a television show. And I found that to be insulting"
- Scandal was "a little miracle of genre fusion, somehow managing to be several seemingly incompatible shows at the same time"
- Rhimes on Olivia Pope's legacy: "Now it feels very normal and obvious that female characters can be antiheroes, and it feels normal and obvious that women of color can lead shows"
- Inside the Scandal writers' room: Shonda Rhimes & Co. recall ABC initially asking that Olivia not sleep with the president
- Scandal was a social-media game-changer, inspiring Twitter to launch boot camps for other TV shows
- Scandal brought Black Twitter to life every Thursday
- Executive producer Betsy Beers realized Scandal was a massive hit after Fitz was shot
- Before Olivia Pope, it was rare to see a black woman portrayed as such a potent symbol of desire in television and film
- Rhimes turned what should've been a limited series into TV immortality by blowing up the plot almost every week
- Kerry Washington on leaving Scandal: “I am not in complete denial, but I don’t think the processing will be complete for a while"
- Rhimes' original Scandal ending was upended by the 2016 election
- "I've always said I'm more Team Olivia than every other team," says Rhimes
- Scandal's success was proof of the power of female viewers, especially black women
- Does Olivia’s white hat still have any meaning at this point?
- The Season 2 episode “Spies Like Us" is where scandal went off the rails, forever altering its DNA
- Here are the 23 greatest Scandal monologues
- The Season 3 finale “The Price of Free and Fair Elections" illustrated Scandal's early promise and its worst impulses
- Scandal cast and crew discuss their favorite scenes
- Scandal was always about Olivia and Mellie finding each other
- Katie Lowes and Guillermo Diaz agree "The Lawn Chair" is the most important episode in establishing Scandal's legacy
- Ranking the Scandal characters by how shady they are
- The Music of Scandal: Shonda Rhimes made it a point to highlight black music icons
- How costume designer Lyn Paolo's own Prada bag ended up becoming an iconic part of Scandal
- Olivia Pope's best speeches, ranked
- Scandal finale to feature a brand-new song by an R&B legend
- What's next for the Scandal stars?
Posted Wednesday 4/18/18 at 11:16PM EDT
Roseanne's jab at Black-ish and Fresh Off the Boat was "a dog whistle so strong that it might have brought Lassie back from the dead"
According to Emily Nussbaum, that one controversial joke about "all the shows about black and Asian families" explains Roseanne. Nussbaum says the joke was a racial dog whistle. If it wasn't, why not target shows about white families like The Middle or Speechless? Is it because those shows are "just like them"? "The jab," says Nussbaum, "was clearly aimed at Black-ish and Fresh Off the Boat, comedies that share ABC’s Tuesday schedule with Roseanne. The line establishes a few things. One is that the Conners don’t live in the same America as the Johnsons, from Black-ish, or the Huangs, from Fresh Off the Boat. There will never be a crossover episode—no fun clash, say, between an aging Jessica Huang and Roseanne, on a Conner trip to Florida. Instead, the Conners are themselves bored, alienated ABC viewers, unable even to remember titles, just that these are the 'black and Asian' shows."
- ABC having the No. 1 show with Roseanne hasn't happened since Who Wants to be a Millionaire in 2000
- What is the point of Mary Conner? The one black Roseanne family member is nearly invisible
- Johnny Galecki's return was a perfect metaphor for the revival's messiness
- David being back only made sense in an alternate universe
- Did Barbara Bush actually call Roseanne Barr "brave," as Barr claimed? Not exactly
- 90-year-old Estelle Parsons looked really good in her return as Bev
Posted Saturday 4/14/18 at 12:07AM EDT
Asian-American Bob's Burgers writer shares the aftermath of criticizing a Roseanne joke
Kelvin Yu, who also appears on Master of None, went viral with his tweets slamming Roseanne for a joke taking a shot at Black-ish and Fresh Off the Boat. "Many of the comments I received were supportive — retweets, likes and the always flattering fist emoji," he writes in The New York Times. "However, I have to admit that the loudest voices to me were the ones that were vitriolic and shockingly mean," including racially disparaging remarks. Yu writes that he found it "so galling that a show celebrating ostensibly marginalized Americans would consider shows about even more marginalized Americans a punch line, tossed off between two yawns and a meh, followed by a roomful of people laughing. And although, admittedly, I have no idea what it means to be white or working class, there are at least a half-dozen shows out there through which I can experience it vicariously. Meanwhile, white working-class people have one — and only one — current network show to help them understand the lives of Asian-Americans (hint: it rhymes with Shmesh Off the Shmoat)."
- Even the haters should appreciate Roseanne: "When a TV show — or any pop culture artifact — is drawing that kind of a mass audience, it has something to tell us about ourselves and the times in which we live"
- Here's your first look at Roseanne's mom Bev's return next week
- Seth Meyers has Roseanne "fans" explain to him why they love the show so much
Posted Thursday 4/12/18 at 10:36PM EDT
Atlanta is "a show about nothing while being a show about everything
In a way, Donald Glover's FX show could be described as "black Seinfeld," says Michael Harriot. In an essay about "the invisibility of black genius," Harriot writes that Atlanta's "subversive personality doesn’t even try to accommodate white sensibilities. It is not unapologetically black, because it seems to be unaware that an apology is even necessary." He adds: "The beauty of Atlanta is that it proves that there are shades of black by rejecting every stereotypical portrayal of blackness and embracing the nooks and crannies. That is the unheralded genius of the show. It does not portray us at our best or our worst. It is black Seinfeld. It is a show about nothing while being a show about everything. It does not try to be black. It just is. The greatest thing about Glover and Atlanta is that they don’t seem to care if anyone else recognizes their genius. Perhaps that is a lesson for us all. Maybe we should stop giving a f*ck."
Posted Friday 4/06/18 at 10:24PM EDT
It's simply not true that Roseanne is a rare comedy that tackles politics and the working class
ABC Entertainment president Channing Dungey, in explaining last week why Roseanne in the wake of Trump's victory, said "we had not been thinking nearly enough about economic diversity and some of the other cultural divisions within our own country.” To which Vox's Caroline Framke and Todd VanDerWerff respond: "This falls in line with how some people, and especially conservatives, have been talking about the Roseanne revival. The way this logic goes, Roseanne is one of the only shows on TV that dares talk about 'economic diversity' and 'cultural divisions,' political correctness or whatever be damned. The weird thing about that line of reasoning, however, is that it’s not true. While Roseanne’s original run was indeed groundbreaking, in the years since, countless politically and socially relevant sitcoms have followed in its footsteps. Many of them are on the air right now; some are even already airing on ABC." In fact, Vox has a list of 11 shows that tackle politics and the working class, from One Day at a Time to The Middle.
- Roseanne isn't the only "real" working class sitcom: What about Mom and Superstore?
- What about black working-class shows?: It's "frankly ludicrous" to say Roseanne represents the working-class voters who elected Trump
- Former Fresh Off the Boat writer Kourtney Kang explains her problem with this week's Roseanne slam
- Why the whole Black-ish-Fresh Off the Boat controversy is dumb: Roseanne is supposed to be a modern Archie Bunker!
- Is Roseanne's gender nonconforming grandson designed to appease "anti-trans feminists"?
Posted Friday 4/06/18 at 10:24PM EDT
Donald Glover wasn't on set for this week's Atlanta episode because he was in character for the entire time
"There was no Donald on set whatsoever," Derrick Haywood says in describing Glover's method acting for last night's episode. "I kid you not. Our engagement on season one compared to our engagement on this episode was drastically different." ALSO: "Teddy Perkins" episode showed the horror of black childhood trauma.
Posted Friday 4/06/18 at 4:27AM EDT
Bob's Burgers writer: Here's why Roseanne's joke about Fresh Off the Boat and Black-ish was so offensive
Kelvin Yu addressed the controversy over Tuesday's episode in a nine-tweet thread. "At the very least, it's reductive and belittling, as if to say those shows are nothing more than 'Black' and 'Asian' in their existence," he wrote. He said Tuesday's joke "implies that the point of any show about a minority family is simply to normalize them. That's it. The stories, the humor, the characters... not important."