Link: More Diversity in Prime Time: It’s Not Your Imagination – The Root

More Diversity in Prime Time: It’s Not Your Imagination – The Root

This article mostly talk about black-ish in the aftermath of it’s premiere yesterday, but it also spotlights Jane the Virgin, which I must say was probably my favorite pilot this fall. Check it out!

Also check out two more articles regarding blackish:
In ABC’s ‘Black-ish,’ everyone has racial issues [Washington Post]
Black-ish: “Pilot”: Don’t call it the black Modern Family [AV Club]

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ConStar’s Pilot Watch: Jane the Virgin

My favorite pilot for this season is Jane the Virgin. I love that it’s about a Latino family, I love that the grandmother only speaks Spanish (a reality they’re allowing to shine on TV), I love the characters and their relationships and where they’re taking their secrets, I love how funny it is, and how ridiculous it is at times, but also how real and loving. Most of all, I love the tellanovella narration.

I can’t stress enough how much I loved the narration. I think it’s so fresh and original. It reminds me of Jim Dale doing the Pushing Daisies narration. It fits tonally, adds humor, and gets exposition out in an innovative way. I’ve definitely never heard a tellanovella voice over before. It’s clearly inspired by the idea of tellanovellas and their ridiculousness (possibly inspired by an actual tellanovella?), but still doesn’t feel like too much a soap opera, even with soap opera plots (and camera work at times).

I already wanted to see it, but now I am really interested. It was definitely my favorite new pilot (since I’d already seen the Flash and knew the character). I really want this show to succeed and I really think that it will.

Verdict: It’s now definitely on my fall calendar, but when I’ll have time on Monday nights? I don’t know!

ConStar’s Pilot Watch: The Flash

I’d watched The Flash already (shhh), but I enjoyed it again the second time, which is a great omen. Obviously, I’ve been ranting and praising Arrow for the last two months and I really enjoyed Grant Gustin as Barry on that show, so I was pleased that the pilot held up to that portrait of him (even if they did fudge the order of events from the way they happened on Arrow). I think the characters are in solid places and it’s not too much a replica of its sister show. It’s whimsical and light and fast and fun and I really enjoy that.

I love its diversity: the Wests are black and Cisco is Hispanic and there were some other background characters of color that made me feel like I was more in the real world than most other tv shows. I love that Jesse L. Martin gets to be a cop again, but with fantastical story lines. He’s such a NY good cop icon, especially in TV land, so it really helps sell Central City as this Metropolis type place, compared to Arrow’s dark Gotham like elements.

In fact, the two shows play light and dark the same way Superman and Batman do, which I think will help make them awesome sister-shows. The way that people love Batman and Superman to interact and reference each other. If anything, if Batman is always in our mental periphery when watching Arrow, I think that Superman could be when watching Flash. Barry is clearly more readily willing to be a hero, a lighter beacon than the Arrow, so it’ll be fun to see what his hero’s journey is. I think Oliver knows how to save people, but doesn’t know how to be a hero, a symbol, just yet; while Barry knows how to be a hero, but doesn’t quite know how to save people yet. He’s got powers, but is still learning how to use them. Something deep and analytical like that. Either way, rewatching this pilot only made me more excited for it to premiere.

Verdict: Yes, yes, yes!

ConStar’s Pilot Watch: Gracepoint

I watched the Broadchurch pilot once, then never made it back for the rest of the series. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy it, but maybe at the time it was a bit heavy for what I wanted to watch? I have But from what I remember of it, this show is a scene by scene American recreation of most of that pilot. And of course the star is the same–with his American accent. Wasn’t sure David Tennant’s accent was working for me, but it seemed to ease itself into naturality (a word I’m making up, yes) by halfway through the episode.

I really liked that the dad of the dead boy was Hispanic and I think his performance surprised and pleased me most of all. (Oh and that the daughter’s boyfriend was black—can’t remember if that was the case on Broadchurch.) There was something about the dad, especially in the scene in the morgue, that I loved. He portrayed what it might look like for a father to lose his son really well. In fact, the silence that reigned in the theater I watched this in when Tennant and Gunn (I’m bad at character names upon a first viewing, apparently) inform the family was a true testament to the great job the actors and the director did of pulling the viewers in to such a horrifyingly sad and intimate moment in this family’s life. Anna Gunn was great and I think a perfect fit for this role.

I would like to know what happens, but I’m not sure my patience will hold up, I apparently didn’t have it for BC. I like mysteries though and this certainly reminds me of some random mystery novels I read as a kid—small beach town, murder, where everyone is a suspect. I meant to binge Broadchurch when it was done airing in the US on TV, but I never did. Maybe I’ll make the effort here. (Then watch the original, because it’s bound to be better.)

Verdict: In truth, I might DVR the show then never watch it, like I did with Broadchurch and that’s nothing against the show, that’s all me. But it’s not something I wouldn’t watch, I just might not watch it. Make sense? If not, ask me about it and convince me to watch it.

Constar’s Pilot Watch: Gotham

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this one–it’s got so many big shoes to fill, but I enjoyed it.

Maybe it was a bit overly heavy-handed with introducing each of the villainous players, but it was nice to guess at them, right before a punny name drop, confirming who you think it is. I thought Ben MacKenzie was a nice Gordon–trying to do the right thing, but being tossed into this seedy world surrounded by awful people. His smarmy partner–played by Donal Logue who I know from the sitcom Grounded for Life (don’t ask, there was a ABC Family phase and that was in syndication) —was a great foil for MacKenzie. I think he plays his character perfectly, we’ll love to hate him.

I really like how much time Jada Pinkett-Smith gets, especially considering she’s a show original character? The fact that she’s such a boss and is helping these villains get their origins is cool. Helps that’s she’s feisty and powerful and has sexy/powerful outfits. Little Bruce Wayne was adorable and sad and I wonder where they’ll take his character, considering it’s such a long ways off from becoming anything even close to Batman. He’ll probably not appear too often, I don’t imagine they want to overload us with the one thing we can’t have from this show.

I liked the tone and the look of the show–seedy and dark and kinda greenish-gray, very 20s grimy New York, with some Art Deco feel to it too. Fish Mooney’s place was very French brothel or something. The art direction is really great; they’ve really filled it with film noir tones which kind of help with a timelessness of it. (Though, I noticed that Gordon has a flip phone—so cellphones exist, but not current ones? I think this show will probably be a bit of an anachronism stew… but that’s alright with me as long as it’s consistent.)

Verdict: Yup, I’m watching it. I got a better feel for this than I did from the Agents of SHIELD pilot, so that’s a good sign for this superhero show.

ConStar’s Pilot Watch: Red Band Society

Red Band Society was not on my list of shows to watch. I just didn’t have too much interest in it and I don’t often purposefully watch things that might be sad.  I’m not one to watch something that I know will be sad going in. I’m an action, fantasy, magical plot kind of girl; if it happens to be sad, I’ll deal and be sad too, but then it’s back to fun and magic and superpowers. And I definitely expected this to be sad–sick kids in a children’s hospital? Obviously very Fault in Our Stars. While The New Yorker TV Critic Emily Nussbaum proclaims the two aren’t the same at all—she also make a good point, the show is tailor-made for fans of that book. Emily’s opinion is that Fault is better—richer, deeper characters—but I’m giving RBS the benefit of a pilot. The Fault in Our Stars has book level character depth—given over the course of a hundreds of pages. RBS must delve out its development slower and across more characters. What might seem like “caricature” in a pilot might evolve to greater depth as we get to spend time with each character (which goes back to my giving Mulaney a second-episode chance). All this to say, I wasn’t expecting to want to watch more of this show, but I do.

I don’t have too much more to say other than I really liked the character dynamics between the kids. I loved that the black kid (I can’t remember his name right now) was SUCH a New York black kid. I love that he talks like people I’ve met, kids I’ve met. He felt real in his actions, so I hope he gets more character development along the way. Octavia Spencer was wonderful, both scary and sweet, clearly good at her job and also caring about her knucklehead patients. There’s little groundwork for arcs for all the characters, just the cheerleader and the new kid dealing with the treatment of their new diseases, but I’m excited to see where they’ll take all of this.

It was lovely and fun and teenage, presenting the same tropes as a high school sitcom in a new way, while also being a little fantastical and light-hearted as well. I’m hoping that with it’s diverse audience, that the characters of color get equal screen time, but also that maybe some actors with real life disabilities get to appear on the show. I can’t help but think of RJ Mitte, who has cerebal palsy and was awesome on Breaking Bad. And I believe there is a show on ABC Family that features a hearing-impaired character played by an actual hearing-impaired actress. I would love for this show to allow actors with disabilities to shine, especially since this is a show intended to be watched by young people and it would really allow them to see themselves in society and allow others to see them as people rather than just see them by their disability. This show could be a beacon for representation across cultures and capabilities.

Verdict: Adding to my fall schedule. I really, really enjoyed this one.

ConStar’s Pilot Watch: Mulaney

So I know this show was slated for last season’s pilot season, so maybe that contributed to how I felt about it, but I was SO disappointed. Mulaney’s acting was a bit stilted (explained, I guess, as a character trait?), Nasim Pedrad’s character was funny but unfortunately terribly written and one dimensional in the way she was obsessed with her ex-boyfriend, and the black sidekick literally couldn’t get a joke out. His character couldn’t find a punchline. It was too on the nose for how the show seems to make a splash but goes nowhere. The Seinfeldy stand up bits were okay, but not seamlessly tied in OR completely removed the way Seinfeld’s were. They felt a bit abrupt.

The characterization was so lacking. Neither of the sidekick characters had anything other than that episode’s schtick; no real jobs (the black sidekick is also a comedian) or goals or backstory. Only Mulaney’s character, in his job working for Martin Short (who didn’t really grab my attention), had any kind of arc given to him. Nasim worked really hard with what she got, I enjoyed her performance, though not the ridiculous caricature of a character.

Also, there’s a random Ice-T voice over at the beginning explaining “This is filmed in front of a live studio audience.” Very 90s, which might’ve been the point, but also feels different than any other modern comedy on TV and not in a good way.

I’m hoping that because this show is two years old, it means that Mulaney and the writers were able to tweak the things that aren’t working in the pilot. Maybe it will still have the 90s multi-cam feel to it, but perhaps it will be smarter and have better characterization. Maybe Mulaney will be more relaxed as an actor. It’d be nice to see this do well, if just for the fact that it was stuck in development for so long, but I’m not sure on this one.

Verdict: I might watch episode two to see if the writing has changed, but I’m not sure this is gonna remain in my line up. Here’s hoping episode 2 is two years improved.

ConStar’s Pilot Watch: Forever

Just look at that ridiculous pun.

I almost don’t want to talk about this show. I wasn’t interested in it to begin with (it was the show of all of the presented pilots at PaleyFest Previews that I wanted to watch the least) and it didn’t surprise me or engage me at all. In fact, I stepped out halfway through to get a snack and didn’t miss much.

We’ve done the “immortal white guy knows more than everyone around him” trope so many times and there was nothing new to his immortality–unless you count that fact that he’s NOT a vampire. And I’d had a feeling we’d seen this show before and after the panel I was reminded there was a show called New Amsterdam a few years ago that was this very same trope—he was a detective instead of an ME. I hadn’t wanted to watch that show either. And it got cancelled pretty quickly. His resurrection power seems ridiculous and half unexplained–and not in the mysterious wait until later in the season way. Things were left unexplained (like why he DISAPPEARS from his spot of death and resurrects in water; also: what happens to his clothes? What if someone sees his body disappear?), which distracted me from the story rather than pulling me in. These are things that could have been explain immediately.

It’s the Mentalist (no, not fun Psych, but the Mentalist) meets… a vampire detective show. Maybe a bit of Castle (partners from different fields solving crimes) and Quincy, ME (he’s an ME), but without any of the fun of any of those shows. He didn’t even really present a compelling backstory and his partner’s backstory was mediocre as well. Nothing all that interesting.

The best thing was the ending with a reveal as to how he knew a certain character. That warmed the hearts of several audience members, and it was a nice bit of character interaction, though still no real development on behalf of the main character. And the mystery introduced–someone knows his secret–wasn’t interesting at all. Just a series of phone calls, you don’t even see the face of the main antagonist. I didn’t care.

Why can’t we have an immortal protagonist who is black? Or Latino or Asian? Those stories would be so much more interesting and rich! A black immortal who escaped slavery or at least survived until emancipation, then through Jim Crow and all that which followed? A Latina (yes, why not female) who has travelled through South and Central America for centuries before landing in New York. Characters of other races would add much more flavor to these immortal stories, the things they’ve lived through, that people of color have gone through through the years tells much more harrowing tales. An immortal Japanese man who survived living in America through internment camps or perhaps, even managed to fight in WWII. There are so many stories out there that are the same ones we’re being presented, but add a person of color and it adds so much more to the narrative.

Can’t say I was disappointed in Forever, just that it met my very low expectations.

Verdict: The puns were too heavy handed, the plot wasn’t interesting, and it started off with an unnecessary bang. I’m not watching Forever.

ConStar’s Pilot Watch: Cristela

I was wonderfully surprised by Cristela. It started off rough and I felt like my low expectations were being met during the first 20 seconds: Cristela walks in the room, her mother says something that’s not funny and the laugh track kicks in. It was a bad omen. I groaned aloud. I face palmed. But once it moved past forcing the first laugh, it legitimately made me crack up.

The character dynamics are on point; Cristela lives with her sister and brother-in-law, mother, and her niece (was there a nephew as well? I can’t remember). The mother was grumpy and old country, the brother-in-law hates Cristela, the sister is sexy and loves her family (clearly since she lets both her mother and her sister live in her house). Simple character traits that will define their relationships with each other and provide nice plotting.

Cristela, herself, is ambitious, but not easily so–it’s taken her six years so far to get through law school–but she’s in there and she’s not giving up. She likes sports (go Cowboys), makes friends with the adorable, inept Jewish fellow intern, and both stands up to but makes an effort to learn from her new (racist) boss. Which I hope they deal with a little better than they have so far, but they can’t squeeze everything into the pilot and most times in the world, you have to suck up people’s racism until you have the power to put them in their place–which she definitely doesn’t have yet.

The show is funny, so hopefully they don’t rely too much on forced laugh track gags like the very first one, and I think it has heart. Obviously it’s comparable to the George Lopez show, which I can’t remember well enough to really say if that’s going to help it or hinder it. The weakest part of the show was Gabriel Iglesias’ character—who seemed forced in because he’s a famous Latino comedian and who didn’t add anything to the show but weird sexual advances towards an uninterested Cristela. Hopefully they realize they don’t need his famous face.

Verdict: I was pleasantly surprised; I’m keeping it on my fall calendar.

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::

ConStar’s Pilot Watch: Manhattan Love Story

One of the batch of romcom/sitcoms coming this fall, I came in around the middle of Manhattan Love Story. The thing that made me enjoy this was the main character (I forget her name) got trapped in a staircase at work and had to walk all the way down out the building. She landed in a dirty alley, I set off an alarm at 30 Rock when I interned there… I related to that moment, so I was engaged lol.

It wasn’t a strong pilot, really, but not terrible. I’m not really feeling the male love interest or her best friend and the BFFs husband seemed to have been hitting on the main character? Very skeezy. Maybe I missed important exposition on their relationship, but I didn’t get a good grasp on their relationships. I think the love interest definitely needs to lose the beard, it tonally matches his face too closely, made me really dislike him. It might be a nice thread if her list of NYC places is featured in every episode, but I don’t know how far that takes us.

Between this, Marry Me, and A to Z, there seems to be an advent of meet-cute, fall in love type stories, which might wash the palate of what How I Met Your Mother could have been in its last season. Seeing how Cristin Milioti is in a meet-cute/fall in love show this season, I’ll have to watch that just to see if it makes up for how HIMYM failed me. But I’m thinking HIMYM’s success and the success of the final season (up to the finale itself) is why there are so many rom-com/sit-coms on right now. This is the new comedy trend it seems; moving away from the family or office comedy.

VERDICT: Might binge a few on Hulu after like 3 episodes, but so far I’m not really all that invested.

Minority actors land the lead roles in fall’s diverse TV lineup | New York Post

Check out the Post’s article on the PoC led dramas coming this fall. And a few are led by women! Numbers are getting better, but no where near where they need to be.

The link and a couple of quotes below.

With “Scandal” commanding $200,970 per 30-second advertising spot, it’s a cash cow.“The color Hollywood loves the most is green,” says Wilmore. “Shonda Rhimes really showed that you can have a black lead in your thriller and you can have a great show. She broke down that wall, and Hollywood follows success.”

Hollywood definitely follows the money. Hopefully these new shows prove to be great television as well. The problem we’ve faced in the past has not always been a lack of content (well, yes, this is the problem, but) sometimes the content put out there isn’t good. There are a lot of times people of color will watch a show featuring someone of their background and that will boost ratings, but ratings will drop off if they don’t consider the show good. It’s not just about representation in numbers, but representation in quality and content. Don’t just give us a show with a black person and say it’s diversity, the content has to be good as well.

Rina Mimoun, executive producer of “Red Band Society,” says that, because of the Rhimes effect, “people will open up their casting. There’s no reason not to.”

More and more producers are realizing this, but things still aren’t where they need to be. The Emmy’s certainly showed that with the small amount of PoC nominees and smaller winners (most weren’t even televised). Hopefully, with this new crop of PoC led shows, next year’s Emmy’s will feature more PoC nominees and winners (now that Breaking Bad is finally out of the race; and maybe Emmy voters will finally be over Modern Family).

(In addition to these current shows, let’s not forget Sleepy Hollow, also led by a black female–I don’t think the article mentioned it.)

via Minority actors land the lead roles in fall’s diverse TV lineup | New York Post.

Fall TV 2014: How Packed is Your Primetime Schedule?

I’m trying to blog more, I really am. But work-life and attempting to write scripty things has taken away my energy. Also my obsession with the show Arrow. BUT Fall is approaching and I wanted to take a look at the shows I’ll be watching this season.

Here’s TV Line’s full Fall Schedule.

And here’s mine! [Sept 13 edit, after I’ve watched several of these pilots, check out how and read reviews here.]

Screen Shot 2014-09-13 at 2.31.27 PM

What should I be watching that’s not on here?

I’m most excited for The Flash, Arrow S3, and Brooklyn 99 S2, but of course my other returning shows bring me much joy as well. I’m watching the Nolan Batman trilogy as I type this–Batman Begins at the moment–so I’ll check out Gotham (hopefully it goes more the way of Arrow and less the way of Agents of SHIELD in maintaining my interest). I’m gonna check out Cristela (even though it’s a multi-cam comedy) because diversity needs a shot on television. black-ish also gets my views for that reason, but also just missing the existence of a black sitcom, and having a TV that might speak to my experiences as a black nerd (hopefully).

How to Get Away with Murder should be very interesting. Shondaland Thursdays are in full effect–if only I still felt like watching Grey’s Anatomy. Sleepy Hollow and Castle are my Monday mainstays–hopefully I’ll still be able to blog about them come fall. New Girl and Mindy help BK99 fill the void of Parks not coming back till mid-season, but only just barely. Finally, I’ll check out Mulaney and Jane the Virgin, but those could go either way for me.

Screen Shot 2014-08-26 at 10.50.20 PM

On September 6th, I’ll be at the Paley Center here in NY watching the FOX, ABC, and CW pilots, so I’ll have a bit of an early preview regarding those, with an audience no less! Should be fun! I’ll try to blog about the experience. I know some pilots are available already, but like I said, other concerns have taken precedence. I’m working on getting back to blogging as fall approaches, hopefully I can start posting more. [Edit: Full post with links to episode reviews here.]

If you’re following along, what fall shows are you most looking forward to watching? So far my schedule is 14 shows deep! That’s not including Key&Peele, Whose Line, The Tonight Show, The Daily Show, The Colbert Report…! Phew! I hope my DVR can handle it all!

How packed is your primetime schedule?

ABC Heralds Diverse Lineup Of Shows At TCA

“Let’s not pretend we’re there yet,” when it comes to the television industry accurately reflecting the demographics of America, ABC president Paul Lee said at the Television Critics Association press tour Tuesday. “I think we’re taking a very good step along that journey. But to be able to pull this off, you need not just stars on air […] [y]ou need the storytellers and you need the executives. I’m very proud of the fact that if you look at the executives who do development and do programming and marketing, across ABC, it’s a very diverse group of people.

via ABC Heralds Diverse Lineup Of Shows At TCA.

Seems like the president of ABC, Paul Lee isn’t trying to say they’ve reached Diversity (yes, capital D) on TV just yet, despite ABC’s wide selection of both supporting actors, leads, and full series that feature diverse families as the lead (though not sure how I feel about Asian “clan,” you already used family twice, either use three different words for family or all the same. Anyway–). It’s nice to see that ABC isn’t trying to say they’ve won anything or that there isn’t more work to be done. There definitely is.

‘Community’ to Return for Season 6 on Yahoo Screen – TheWrap

‘Community’ to Return for Season 6 on Yahoo Screen – TheWrap

It’s amazing how a joke from season 2 has determined the fate of Community. If Abed hadn’t spoken those fateful words, would we be here now? Or would there be another rallying cry that would get us to… Yahoo.

I tweeted yesterday that there seems to be some sort of TV checks and balances going on. Hieroglyph (a show I was looking forward to checking out) got cancelled months ahead of it’s “greenlit to series” debut, but Community is back!

#SixSeasonsandaMovie rolls ahead as Yahoo picks up the series. But, Yahoo though?! Who watches Yahoo TV? Obviously Yahoo jumped on the deal when Hulu didn’t, so that Community fans would actually get an audience to Yahoo, because, again… who watches Yahoo TV?! Yahoo definitely wins in this case, with ample opportunity presenting itself to get viewers to watch their streaming offerings, on whatever platform or device or website they apparently run original content on. And Dan Harmon wins, because he’ll definitely be able to do more and push the boundaries more (which’ll be farther out than they were at NBC) and really stretch his storytelling.

So we lose one show on a major network, but gain a beloved show on a fledgling online one… some sort of checks and balances.

Once I finish season 5 (those last two episodes are sitting in my DVR. I wanted to watch the meta one about story structure–the specific one, since they’re all kind of about that haha–but haven’t had time yet), perhaps I’ll find season 6. Somewhere on the internet.

Yahoo is against the Darkest Timeline.

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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Upfronts 2014: Hieroglyph

Just how gorgeous is this image? (I love and wear gold eyeliner.) I’ve been excited about Hieroglyph since I heard about it for several reasons. Number 1 being diversity. From the trailer, the cast seems really mixed. Often, tales in Egypt get whitewashed (then tanned), but this story actually includes people of color. Exciting!

Also, I really like Ancient and Classic Antiquity (thanks wikipedia!) Egypt. Two reasons for this: The Royal Diaries book series, of which Cleopatra – Daughter of the Nile was one of my favorites to read and reread (I might just do that, for my other blog). And The Mummy (this one’s a bit more obvious and standard). I think this will be a cool show and will get to explore some lesser known mythologies, now that fairy tale and mythology shows are coming back into fashion. Of course I love the idea of it being a supernatural, fantastical story with mystery, action-adventure, and intrigue.

It’s not airing until 2015, presumably in Sleepy Hollow’s time slot (though I wish they were being paired together), but I can’t wait to check it out.

Watch the teaser trailer below:

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Upfronts 2014: Shondaland Thursday Coming This Fall — But Can She Sustain It?

 

Shonda Rhimes is ABC’s biggest money maker right now. She’s been re-upped through 2018 and nearly all her shows get greenlit without much effort or fuss. Scandal is one of television’s hottest shows right now and Grey’s Anatomy has been 10 years strong, so it makes sense to keep that legacy going. And of course, if Grey’s starts to falter and Scandal has a tentative “end date,” then ABC wants to get some Shonda shows in there that could overlap and continue the dynasty.

This fall, Thursdays become Shondalnd Thursdays. In addition to Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal, Shonda Rhimes’ new show, starring Viola Davis–How to Get Away with Murder–will premiere in the 10pm slot. Talk about a strong lead in. We know just from the Shonda brand that it will be highly watched, highly talked about, and will get ABC the Thursday ratings they want for the first few weeks at least.

But can she sustain it? Doing two shows at a time has got to be rough. The last time Shonda Rhimes had three shows on the air–no one remembers Off the Map, in conjunction with Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice? Exactly, that’s what happens when you have three shows on the air. Grey’s was in it’s seventh season and Private Practice in what became it’s second to last. Three shows is draining. Three shows is stretching yourself thin. Three shows is hoping you can trust the people in charge of your other shows with the characters, with the storylines. And while there are shows with big names attached spread across multiple shows (Dick Wolf (L&O), Jerry Bruckheimer), they don’t have the showrunner, creator, creative input that Shonda has. So we’ll see how well each show does with Shonda spreading herself across them like this.

My biggest example of a highly involved creator trying three shows at once is 2002 Joss Whedon.

It’s almost like he’s saying, “Shonda, beware!”

As he was entering Buffy the Vampire Slayer‘s seventh season and Angel’s fourth season, Firefly came out. Cult hit that it (and the other two shows as well) was, that was a rough year for Whedonites. Yes, there were other factors to Firefly’s cancel (cough*FOX executive meddling*cough), but season 7 of Buffy and Angel’s 4th are some of the most contested seasons among fans. There’s a lot of dislike in the character development, storyline speed and progress, and just a general division among fans about whether or not they’re the weakest seasons in the bunch. Firefly was cancelled after 13 episodes (well, more like 10?), it became Buffy’s last season, and Angel’s second to last. In addition to all the other pressures that caused each show to go through it’s personal rough patch, it could not have helped that Joss had to concern himself with all three shows, in some way. Focusing on Firefly doesn’t mean that he could have completely ignored showrunner responsibilities for Angel and Buffy. That kind of stretching takes a toll on the showrunner and the shows.

I hope this doesn’t happen to Shonda. Both Grey’s (simply due to it’s length) and Scandal already have many fans once in love with the shows expressing apprehension about the coming seasons. Grey’s is losing a major, fan favorite character. Scandal’s struggled with White House saturation. With these cracks in the armor, can Shonda risk dividing her attention to another show? Only time, and ratings, will tell.

 

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Upfronts 2014: FOX, NBC what are you doing?

Let’s start network-wide. Fox and NBC swapped for me in the past year, NBC going from a favorite, most watched network, to me having one show next season (the mid-season, finale season Parks debacle…). While FOX went from me abandoning several of it’s shows due to reordering episodes and demanding stasis in characters that achieved character development to the network I have the most shows I am interested in this fall. And FOX pulled me in with the commitment and success in diversity. So let’s talk about what they’re doing this fall.

NBC– honey, what are you doing? They’ve cancelled most of their comedies, leaving Parks and Recreation, their current longest running sitcom as a mid-season replacement in it’s finale season. According to the schedule listed in the link on Vulture, there are only 4 comedies on the schedule, split between Tuesday and Thursday 9-10 comedy hours. What? Has NBC given up on reclaiming it’s must-see-tv fame? I suppose it wasn’t working, but it kills me that not one of the four comedies is Parks. What a way to alienate your little comedy fanbase. Why not use Parks and the final season momentum to pull your existing fans over to new shows? You now have to do the work to get non-NBC comedy watchers (those who didn’t watch 30 Rock and Community and Parks in the hey-day of low-rated but cult favorite comedies). I suppose they no longer want those fans. They want new ones entirely. Or they’re trying to sustain the network on the Voice, Dick Wolf, and the Blacklist until they figure out something that works. But, to me, it doesn’t seem like they’ve found the formula yet. I’ll see you mid-season, NBC, when you put Parks and Recreation back on the schedule. (Let’s face it, it’s a cancelled-new-show replacement. As soon as one of the new comedies fail, they’ll stick Parks in the 9pm comedy spot until the rest of the season is done. More on Parks later.

 

 

FOX, homie, you’re doing a lot of things right, but one thing feels very wrong. I will be watching seven FOX shows this fall. That’s more than any other network and more than I’ve ever watched FOX. They’ve been getting some good, diversely cast comedies in these past couple of seasons. New Girl confirmed Damon Wayans Jr as the 6th member of the cast, rounding them out to Friends proportions, The Mindy Project had a strong finale with lots of possibility, and Brooklyn 99 came out of the gate with comedy, diversity, and heart. So why are they sending Brooklyn 99 to the Sunday animation slot?! It seems ridiculous to me. Vulture says,

There’s logic behind this year’s changes: Family Guy is pretty much a multi-camera sitcom that happens to be animatedand Mulaney is multi-cam; Brooklyn is sophisticated single-cam that could mesh with the sensibility of The Simpsons. And once Fox picked up both Brooklyn and The Mindy Project, it was obvious one would either move or wait until midseason: Fox simply doesn’t have the comedy strength to support a two-hour sitcom block on Tuesdays.

But that seems absurd. I definitely think they could sustain it. But even if it can’t, splitting the comedies into the animation block disturbs something that’s been working on FOX for years now. Animation fans won’t necessarily hold up these fresh comedies and when was the last time comedies aired on a Sunday night?! This makes me nervous for both BK99 and Mulaney (which I may watch), because they’re basically hiding it in the schedule. No one looks for comedies on Sunday nights. That’s typically a Feature film, Sports, Drama night. FOX made success with animation as alternative programming to this trend, but this upcoming change might break both the animation block and the comedies they want to succeed. Sigh. There are few shows I want to succeed more than Brooklyn 99. I hope they just suck it up and block the comedies together.

Schedules change, often by November sweeps when networks figure out what’s working and what’s getting cancelled. So we’ll see if this remains the schedule for the fall. But both networks are boggling my mind.

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