Emmys Month: Black at the Emmys (Infographic)

I created this infographic to show some stats I’ve discovered as I researched Black actors at the Emmy awards. I focused on the acting, directing, and writing categories and found some interesting things. In addition to the facts on the graphic, below are some other facts I couldn’t fit on there.

Black at the Emmys

Black at the Emmys (Acting, Writing, Directing)

  • The category with the most wins? Best Writing in a Variety Show (8) (Though, those are split between just 3 people: Wyatt Cenac with 4 from the Daily Show and Chris Rock with 4. Wanda Sykes has two co-won with Chris.), followed by Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama (8) and Lead Actor in a Drama (5).
  • I think Chris Rock and Wanda Sykes are the only black duo to win.
  • Best Lead Actor in a Drama has 5 wins but there hasn’t been a winner since 1998 and no one has even been nominated since 2001 (Andre Braugher was the last in both wins and noms for the category).
  • There wasn’t a single nomination for Best Lead Actor in a Comedy in the 90s. Not one. (Weren’t the 90s the heyday of black sitcoms?)
  • Phylicia Rashad is the last actress to be nominated for Best Lead Actress in a Comedy, back in 1986. Did the Emmy voting committee really not see Tracee Ellis Ross in blackish this year? Or any of the other black actresses in the last 30 years? The last person to win in that category was Isabel Sanford (The Jeffersons) back in 1981.
  • Viola Davis in 2015 became the first black woman to win Best Lead Actress in a Drama.
  • There hasn’t been a black winner of Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy since Robert Guillaume won for Soap in 1979.
  • No black male has won Best Supporting Actor in a Drama and there are no nominees this year (2015).
  • No black actress has won Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy since 1987, when Jackee Harry won for 227.
  • In acting, there are 255 nominations to date, with 41 total wins.
  • No black actress has won for Best Supporting Actress in a Drama since 1993 (Mary Alice, I’ll Fly Away).
  • I’m waiting for Chandra Wilson or Debbie’s Allen to be nominated for best director on Grey’s Anatomy. One day. So far, only three women have ever been nominated (Debbie Allen back in 1989 among them). None have won.
  • Shonda Rhimes, Dee Rees and Wanda Sykes are the only black women nominated for Best Writing in any category.
  • Larry Wilmore is the only black writer to be nominated for Best Writing in a Comedy. He won the year he was nominated in 2002 for The Bernie Mac Show.

For another great infographic of Emmys diversity wins and fails, check Lee and Low’s Diversity Gap graphic.

Any other notable Black at the Emmys facts that I’ve missed? Comment, tweet or contact me!

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BGN Podcast with the black-ish Kid Cast

This week, I had the awesome opportunity to once again join the Black Girl Nerds Podcast, whose guests for the week were the kids from ABC’s hit new sitcom black-ish. Three out of four of the kids were able to join, Miles Brown, Caila Marsai Martin, and Marcus Scribner, while Yara Shahidi was unable to join in due to travel conflicts.

It was a fun podcast. The kids are all super polite, eloquent, funny, and really self-assured. They had us adults talking and listening re-evaluating our lives! They really know their stuff and know how to inspire people (Dream Big, Inspire Many! as Miles likes to say). They have a lot of fun on set and it seems all three kids had great Christmases. I am so glad the world is theirs and they are such good kids to represent the black kids watching them on TV. They will be a great inspiration to so many young children watching black-ish, the way the Huxtable kids or the Banks kids or the  (for older viewers) the Hillman kids were for the young viewers watching them. Marcus, as the oldest, especially. He wants to go to Stanford to be a Journalist! He’s already got really academic aspirations and seems smart, and confident yet still nerdy. And humble, all three sounded extremely humble and just happy to be where they are. It was a great conversation and I feel so inspired having spoken to them. Listening to them will make me like black-ish even more because I know such great kids are behind their characters.

Listen to the podcast here. I’ll be back on the BGN Podcast next week with author Daniel Jose Older, author of a novel coming out this week titled Half-Resurrection Blues. Then I’m on a podcast hiatus for a while. Maybe.

#BGNPodcast In Case You Missed It: The Kids of #BlackishABC.

Link: How To Make It As A Black Sitcom: Be Careful How You Talk About Race

Link: How To Make It As A Black Sitcom: Be Careful How You Talk About Race on Huff Post Black Voices

Several people have sent this to me and I want to share it here. I haven’t been able to dissect it just yet, as it’s a long read, but it looks to be a really, really in depth piece discussing several decades of black sitcoms and comparing their successes and the ways in which they handle race. All of this as black-ish finds its legs and receives a full season pick-up.  There are some great graphs and discussion of a proposed “era” system of black sitcoms from the 50s until now.

 

Check it out.

ConStar’s Pilot Watch: Black-ish

I’m not sure how I feel about Black-ish. There are parts I really enjoyed and I think it had the humor it needed. I think Tracee Ellis Ross was fantastic and funny, and the kids on the show are super adorable. Plus, it’s a pilot, so there’s always room to grow and get stronger, but I’m not sure what I am supposed to take away from it. I think, and hope, that they’re building a show where the dad tries to make his family act stereotypically “black” but then realizes his family is black no matter how they act. They don’t have to conform to some stereotypical ideal of what black means. Because some of the “black” things he tried to make his son do were ridiculous and weren’t things that were even apart of his own culture, something I suppose they will touch on as well (the differences between being black and being African).

I do enjoy that there is a struggle and an uncomfortableness, because I struggle with the idea of being called “white” by my black family/friends or being called an “oreo.” I think it’s about people either adapting or sticking out and trying to find that balance and I think the show will explore that. I like the idea of the main character being in the wrong: every episode will deal with him trying to impose some sort of ideal on his family, then being forced to realize that they can balance the new aspects of themselves they like (field hockey for instance) with the things of “classic” black culture (there are Adidas track suits at the end of the episode that are literally in my cousin’s closet).

There were really funny moments, though I’m not sure how I feel about the voice over done by Anthony Anderson’s character. I suppose it flowed once the story picked up steam, but I wasn’t expecting it. Again, Tracee Ellis Ross was really great; I haven’t watched Girlfriends yet, so I’ve never seen her act in anything. I enjoyed her and the kids are cute and precocious, though only the oldest gets real character development.

There’s a lot of pressure on this show. It’s the only network black sitcom and if it fails, there might not be a call for more. And of course it has to follow in the footsteps of black family comedies like The Cosby Show, The Fresh Prince, and Family Matters. There’s totally room to grow; but let’s not get over-ambitious and call it the Cosby Show of this millennium. I’m not ready to give it that high honor yet. Just in terms of character and writing, what I remember of the Cosby Show defined all the kids’ characterization and their relationships in a stronger way than this did; and no one will ever forget the “I brought you in this world, and I will take you out” line that, while stemming from Cosby’s stand-up, really made an impression on the series’ tone and potential.

Verdict:  I will watch it regularly unless it disappoints. ::please don’t disappoint::

Upfronts 2014: Black-ish

Could this be the return of the black sitcom?

This is the question on everyone’s minds as the Laurence Fishbourne/Anthony Anderson comedy gets slated for ABC’s post Modern Family time slot. It’s definitely a strong lead-in, both because of Modern Family’s consistently high ratings and Emmy nominations as well as being similar family programming. Check out the teaser trailer below:

Based on Barris’ own life (loosely), Black-ish will follow an upper-middle class black man, intent on raising his kids with some sense of cultural identity, in the face of an assault of constant contradictions and obstacles coming from various directions, insisting that his children be color-blind.

decided to do this project when I looked up and realized that everywhere I go I’m constantly the fly in buttermilk… I’m usually THE Black guy at work. We’re THE Black family in the neighborhood. My kids are basically THE Black kids at school. I think it’s kind of a situation of be careful what you wish for. It’s almost in like moving on up, I’ve sort of priced myself “out” of being Black,” said Barris.

The show makes me both excited and nervous. I’m excited to see a black family on television. I’m even more excited to see a black family in a single camera sitcom (has there been one? I can’t think of one  Everybody Hates Chris was one!). But oh boy am I nervous. As a person who is often not seen as black because of the things that I like and the way I speak and the education I got, and as a member of the Black Girl Nerds community and seeing a lot of other people who struggle with being called “oreos” or “not black” and often being the only black person in your work/school/extracurriculars, there are a lot of sensitive issues to deal with. As long as the show deals with being black in a middle class environment without the characters losing their identities as black people.

The title alone is a little worrisome–black-ish implies that through their middle class lifestyle, they’re not fully black, only a little black or sort of black. Just because they have Jewish friends or hang out in affluent neighborhoods shouldn’t take away from the fullness of their blackness. It sounds like the character “insisting his children be colorblind” means that 1. they accept everyone regardless of their background and 2. the struggle the father endures through the series is that the children should be allowed to be who they are and like what they like with it having no reflection on how “black” they are. That’s not the kind of colorblindness we should have, but is often the kind we get: accepting characters regardless of their color but erasing any ethnic identity they have. I don’t know if I am explaining things right or if it’s truly the measure of how I believe things should be. Again, it’s sensitive issues and hard to define or draw the lines, but hopefully the team behind the show address these issues with comedy and class. Maybe the title was just a catchy way to express what the show is about.

So I’m excited! I’ll definitely be checking it out; I hope it’s funny and strong and I hope I can relate to the characters, as their experiences already speak to mine. But I am also nervous.

 

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Phylicia Rashad on Modern Sitcoms via Clutch

Phylicia Rashad Isn’t Happy With The Current State Of Sitcoms | Clutch Magazine.

I love Phylicia Rashad. She’s so elegant and mature and statuesque. She’s a queen of 80s sitcoms and the queen of all black sitcoms, in my opinion. She has some observations on how modern television works in comparison to when she was in her heyday and things aren’t looking good. Writers are becoming more isolated, in her view, too scattered across the country.

Click the link to read more.

“A Different World” Cast Still Hangs Out Over 25 Years Later

imageCree Summer (@iamcreesummer) tweeted this photo of herself, Kadeem Hardison, Darryl Bell and Jasmine Guy hanging out. If only this meant everyone’s long felt desires if a reunion were happening. But this is good too! It’s wonderful to know that some casts become friends and keep in touch like this. I love it!

Also check out the Black Girl Nerds Podcast where we talk with Cree about her time on A Different World and her voice acting career! Love her!

Why Are Black Sitcoms Less Available to Us?: Black Sitcom DVD/Streaming Distribution Disparity

Black Sitcoms Distribution Article Cover

In this digital age of streaming and DVD and Blu-ray, its seems we can watch anything we want, on any device we want, any time we want. Despite the number of networks and outlets available, there are what feels like the fewest black sitcoms on today. Compared to the heyday of the 80s and 90s, the lack of black sitcoms is especially obvious when you consider there is not one on network television. So you’d think we’d be able to go back to those great 80s and 90s TV shows to fill the void of black faces on our television screens. And yes, there are plenty of shows in syndication thanks to BET and TV One and other minority niche networks. But, as I said, in this digital age, you’d think we could watch whatever we want, whenever we want. This is not the case.

When I fell in love with A Different World this summer, I immediately went searching for it on the internet. I found it: terrible quality, 3-parts per episode YouTube videos. Ok. What about on DVD? Only season 1. Netflix? Nope. Hulu? Hasn’t even heard of the show. I currently have 30 episodes stored on my DVR thanks to TV One syndication. Then I thought of other popular black sitcoms and decided to do some research.

Shows like The Cosby Show, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and Family Matters had major audiences. Diverse audiences even; these shows aired during some of the most popular ratings time slots on TV: The NBC Thursday Must-See-TV block and the ABC TGIF block. The first two shows have full series on DVD, but Family Matters remains at only 3 seasons of its total 9 on DVD and none on any of the major streaming sites. Martin and Girlfriends also have all their episodes on DVD, but again, no streaming. Other shows from these eras and time slots, some with lesser ratings or critical acclaim are available but not black shows.

Check out this chart I made, featuring about 48 black sitcoms spanning from the ’60s to the ’00s (only 1 currently running sitcom is on the list)(It’s a bit ridiculous that it only took me a couple of hours to compile this list. It should be a longer list).

Black Sitcom DVD Release/Streaming Chart

Black Sitcom Streaming Availability Chart

Preview of the chart. Click through for the full and most updated version.

Only a quarter of the series on this list have full DVD releases. Only 3 are available on Netflix. Only 5 are available on Hulu. Some can be seen on the WB website or other network/studio pages (not listed on the chart), but I’ve watched shows on the WB website before, it’s not a pleasant experience (perhaps they’ve made some changes).

Why are our shows not available to us? Why must we hunt through DVD bins and “Save Until I Delete” on our DVRs or suffer through terrible quality YouTube versions (missing episodes or muted scenes because of song copyrights)? Why did so many Wikipedia pages say “Season 1 was released on DVD, but future seasons haven’t been made available due to poor season 1 sales”? Are people really not interested? Or were those cop-outs for those companies (more often than not, these shows were distributed by Warner Brothers)? I know that in the case of A Different World, season 1 differs greatly from the other 5 seasons, so of course DVD sales were low. The fans were waiting for season 2-6 to come out. What about The Jamie Foxx Show or Living Single or The Bernie Mac Show? Who is preventing these shows from being available to the (African-) American people?

I put African in parentheses above because here’s the thing: if shows featuring black people aren’t made available to everyone–not just black people–then how will a wider audience of people come into contact with black shows? If they were available as easily as [insert random show that people rarely watch or talk about but is streaming], we could get more than just black people watching these shows. We could expand the typical audience of these shows to include other races and the next generation. And in doing that, we could inspire writers and producers and networks to give more black written/black-led TV shows a shot (especially on network television). Then, more people would have exposure to great television programs and then realize, oh right, the cast was all black.

I don’t know what the solution is. Petition letters for shows like A Different World and Living Single have gone around, but they don’t seem to do much good. Hopefully, Netflix and Hulu will reach out to the black audience. For goodness sake, in their “Categories” section, Hulu has a Spanish Sitcom section while Netflix has a Korean TV Shows section. Why is there no “Black Sitcom” section, why are those shows not available? Maybe we need to create a streaming site that can get the rights to black TV shows; but there are already so many ways in which black television is being propelled backward (maybe you feel this way about Tyler Perry shows, maybe you don’t, but you definitely can’t ignore the complete lack of any black sitcoms on network television–and only three black led dramas, two which premiere this season)–we don’t need to add segregation to the list.

Let your favorite streaming service know that Black Sitcoms are worthy of being viewed. Make them talk to distributors to give them the rights. And support syndication reruns. Somewhere, I’m hoping something will change.

Are there any black sitcoms I left off the list? Any that have DVD/streaming availability that I neglected to mention? How do you think we can get better access to black television sitcoms?

*CORRECTION* I miscalculated on the chart: there are 12 shows with full DVD releases. Not much better. It has been corrected.

Related post: https://constarstudiestv.wordpress.com/2013/07/24/constar-studies-90s-black-sit-coms/