Midseason Diversity Check-In

From what I’ve noticed of this season’s midseason finales, is that it’s been a rough one. Characters have died left and right, been fired, gone missing, etc — I’M SO WORRIED ABOUT ABUELA! — and a whole bunch of other trials that don’t even happen at season finales! But let’s check in with some of our new and returning characters of color this season. How are they doing as characters and how are their shows faring so far this season?

[a few midseason finale spoilers below, particularly Sleepy Hollow, Scandal and Jane the Virgin. Proceed at your own risk.]

Sleepy Hollow

They did what to who? #RIPBelovedCharacter

Over on Sleepy Hollow, it seems like Abbie (Nicole Beharie) has been getting the short end of the stick and fans are noticing. I’m three episodes behind, but from what I saw before I needed to catch up and what I’ve heard with regard to the over-inclusion of Katrina and the killing of Captain Irving (Orlando Jones), it seems that what we once loved about Sleepy Hollow is being written out of existence. (Killing Irving feels a bit like the Black Guy Dies First trope, honestly. Though John Cho’s character did die last season and he was also a major character. That felt more nuanced, however, and Orlando Jones was promoted to main cast and then killed off, so it certainly speaks to the typical horror trope. Le sigh.) Here’s hoping that Irving is magically resurrected and brings new life back to the show. Also, less Katrina. Hopefully this is mere sophomore slump and things will turn around, but if they don’t do it soon enough, it won’t make it to a season 3.

Gotham

Jada Pinkett Smith Fish Mooney

Gotham’s downfall but the show’s saving grace?

One time slot later, Jada Pinkett-Smith has been owning things as Fish Mooney in Gotham City, but can she save an otherwise kinda dull show? I’m also three episodes behind on that one, but I’m not sure I have the desire to tune in again. Fish is the brightest (visually, and she’s definitely up there intellectually) and most interesting character on the show (Penguin holds about even in most fans opinions), so hopefully they give her enough to do. But I’m a little bored by Gotham so far.

Jane the Virgin

Villanuevas

Sorry Sleepy Hollow, but if you continue the way you’re going, Jane the Virgin is going to get my Mondays at 9pm live-viewing points. It’s one of the best shows, new or old, on television now, flawlessly weaving from comedy to drama to mystery to melodrama in the blink of an eye without losing its momentum. Definitely the strongest writing of the season, especially for a new show. The Golden Globes recently recognized nominated it for Best Comedy, as well as star Gina Rodriguez for Best Actress in a Comedy Series. I’m not holding my breath that they’ll win, but hey, miracles happen. My only concern for Jane (besides what happened to Abuela in the midseason finale — !! –) is how long can they stretch the premise? I can see the show going one strong season and maybe a season 2, but what are the plans for after she has the baby and for when she’s perhaps, no longer a virgin? Will the show just outlive it’s title? It seems that audiences have shown, with their lack of patience for will-they/won’t they, that they won’t be content to be strung along to wait for Jane to marry a suitor. So far, I’ve been no reason to not trust the creative team, but the concern is in the back of my mind. (Side note: After writing about Sleepy Hollow’s death above, I’ve realized that Zazz’s death was also “Black Guys Dies First”… ::sigh::)

The Flash

Iris and Barry

You’ve got a lot cut out for you, Iris, if you want us to love you as much as we love your dad. And to ship you with Barry, rather then the SnowBarry love that’s snowballing through Central City.

I love The Flash. I love Joe West, played by the impeccable Jesse L. Martin. He and Barry (Grant Gustin) have amazing father-son chemistry and usually at least once per episode, a scene between them pulls at your heart-strings. Iris (Candice Patton), on the other hand, has a little ways to go. Barry loves her — this is great for black women being presented as the love interest, especially since she’s not a black female stereotype. But is she too tame in the other direction? I don’t want a sassy black girl — been there, done that ad nauseam– but she’s a bit perfect in every way which makes her a little boring. She also never realized that her so-called best friend is in love with her and has super powers — makes her seem a little self-absorbed. Candice is lovely, I like her a lot, but I think her character needs to find her purpose a little more. We don’t want a Laurel situation…

Shondaland: Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, How to Get Away with Murder

The ladies of Shondaland!

We already know that Shondaland Thursdays has been knocking it out of the park. And we already know that Shonda Rhimes’ shows have always been champions for diversity as well as color-blind casting (both purposely casting people of color as well as not limiting non-specific casting to only white actors). And this season has been no different. Meredith Grey has a black sister (Kelly McCreary) on Grey’s Anatomy (which I no longer watch outside of the 5 minutes before Scandal comes on)! Scandal’s Olivia is trying to get past her romantic hang ups and finally choosing herself — though it looks like someone else wants to choose her too and kidnapped her to have her. Meanwhile, Joe Morton continues to give the best monologues on television while being deliciously evil! And while we’re all here for Viola Davis (and her manipulative ways) and Alfie Enoch (and his perpetual confusion) being our lead actors, surprise audience interest perhaps goes to Oliver (Connor’s bf played by Conrad Ricamora) and Detective Bae (I mean Nate) played by Billy Brown. All three shows have Image Award nominations, while Viola alone will hold down Shondaland at this year’s Golden Globes (though award for best giraffe goes to Alfie) for How to Get Away With Murder. When we return from hiatus, I can only imagine where these shows will go!

black-ish

black-ish cast

Say “hi” to several NAACP Image Awards

In the comedy arena, black-ish has been holding strong, being touted as ABC’s #1 new comedy this season (I think ABCs cancelled most of their other ones already…). It’s already snagged a few NAACP Image Award nominations for Best Comedy, Leading Actor and Actress in a Comedy, as well as some supporting actor and actress noms. The show is quickly finding it’s legs and allowing for more diverse conversations on race to happen on the show — my initial hesitance with it stemmed from a kind of one note portrayal of how black people should be (coming from Anthony Anderson’s character Andre), but I think as Dre learns that his family is still black no matter what they like to do or eat or play, hopefully America learns this lesson too. Shows like this are important in bringing different perspectives into the homes of those who may not (somehow) interact with black people on an even weekly basis. Plus, I am loving Tracee Ellis-Ross and young Marsai Martin is a scene stealer. She’s really going places. Keep a look out for a Black Girl Nerds podcast featuring some of the cast members of this show.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Look at this beautifully diverse cast!

Brooklyn Nine-Nine has been holding it down on Sundays. I still think it’s a terrible time slot and foolish to split up the comedies on the network, but it’s a great show that has been giving more and more focus to the two Latinas (Amy [Melissa Fumero] and Rosa [Stephanie Beatriz]) and the black men (Terry [Terry Crews] and Captain Holt [Andre Brauer]). Just looking at the cast photo, it’s really wonderful to see that not only does the show realize you can have more than one black person at a time, you can ALSO have more than one Latina person at a time. Very few other shows (outside of Shondaland) realize that. Not that it couldn’t be even better with some Asian, Native American, Indian or Arab representation; but even without, it’s doing much better than a lot of shows even on this list in terms of a wider range of diverse characters. Though it wasn’t nominated this year, I am still incredibly proud of it winning the Golden Globe for best comedy last year. And Andre Brauer has been getting more and more kudos for his hilarity even while playing the incredibly staid character of Captain Holt– he’s even been nominated for an NAACP award this year.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Cristela (Cristela Alonzo) is holding steady with a full season pick up! I haven’t been watching it, but it the few tweets I’ve seen about it say that it’s still pretty funny. Though I suppose your mileage may vary.
  • Fresh Off the Boat hasn’t premiered yet, but it will soon add some Asian representation to the network landscape.
  • Not really a network TV show, but I must say I am getting more and more excited for The Minority Report — I mean The Nightly Show Starring Larry Wilmore. I’m still sad they can’t use the title Minority Report…http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iX6xoYMNJfw

We Still Have Some Work To Do:

Ted Grant Arrow

Gotta fight for better representation of your fello Latinos, Ted. I mean esse.

In less than stellar representation is Arrow (shame on you, one of my favorite shows this season!), for their portrayal of Latinos in one episode this season and for once again whitewashing R’as al Ghul (though your mileage may vary on whether having a brown person play this character benefits representation).

Sadly, John Cho’s Selfie was cancelled. I didn’t watch it, but the few who have are growing to love it before just as they watch it fall into the cancellation abyss. If you like, go #SaveSeflie over on Hulu! I must say that having an Asian-American get to play a romantic lead is awesome and hopefully Selfie’s downfall won’t stop future shows from casting Cho (or any other Asian actor) as their lead.

I feel like this is how we all look at Katherine Heigl…

State of Affairs was seriously underwhelming when I watched it, even Alfre Woodard (whose character is also named Constance) couldn’t compel me to watch episode 2 and its lukewarm reception leaves me wondering if it will survive its first 100 days on TV (I had to make a presidential joke, had to!).


That’s my TV midseason diversity check-in! I can’t watch everything on TV, so I may have missed some (didn’t a black character bite the dust on Agents of SHIELD? How’s Watson doing on Elementary or Michonne from The Walking Dead?) Some characters are on an upward swing, but others still have work to do. Either way, I am glad to see their faces and hope that there are more and more faces like theirs in seasons to come. The NAACP Image award television nominations had a lot of these actors (Viola, Gina, ), when last season they wouldn’t have had as many options, so there is some slow progress being made. The massive successes of especially How to Get Away With Murder and Jane the Virgin will hopefully finally show studios and networks that you can take a chance on people of color and unique storytelling and people will respond to it.

What other shows have PoC in them and how have they been treated this midseason? 

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Jane the Virgin: Chapter One

Jane the Virgin might be my favorite new show of 2014, in addition to it’s fellow incoming sister show The Flash on the same network. Both shows know exactly what they want and aren’t afraid to give it to the audience. Jane the Virgin‘s narration is very Pushing Daisies with a telenovela twist, as I wrote in my initial pilot viewing, especially due to the “thirteen and a half years ago” and “8.2 miles away” specificity. I love the typography and the writerly feel to it (appropriate since Jane wants to be a writer when she’s ready to be brave [me too, Jane, me too]). Jane the Virgin stays true to it’s telenovela roots (based on Venezuelan shows “Juana le Virgen”) but is a fun, heartwarming, addition to network television. It’s diversity and it’s humor are two of it’s strongest assets and it displays both in the pilot episode. I think it plays well in not dumbing itself down for audiences, there are several moments where they could have telegraphed character relationships or backstories, but didn’t, in honor of believing the audience would catch up if they missed it. I think the show gets off to a great start, with strong, but believably flawed characters. I think reviews will be easiest by grouping characters together and exploring their stories in each episode.

Jane Villaneuva

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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]

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: 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: 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::

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?

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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TV #Diversity Pilots 2014 Trend: More Black Actors

TV Pilots 2014 Trend: More Black Actors.

With Scandal ruling primetime and star Kerry Washington becoming an awards season fixture, more pilots led by black actors are in the works this season.

These are some of the black actors getting roles in upcoming pilots: Viola Davis, Anthony Anderson, Kevin Hart, Craig Robinson, Terrence Howard, Taraji P. Henson, Jada Pinkett Smith, Octavia Spencer, & Halle Berry. This is a star studded list of people and doesn’t even include the actors from FOX’s upcoming Hieroglyph, who are less mainstream A-/B-list actors. It’s wonderful getting to see more faces of color on television, hopefully with stories that diversify the stereotypes often relegated to such characters.

Now we just have to hope these shows get picked up past their pilots, so we actually get to see them act in these shows.

 

Pilot Season Diversity: Various Network Pilots

For the last few days, I’ve been showcasing some pilots being worked on this season with diverse casting. Here are some more that might be coming to our screens in the fall, but maybe I am less invested in. I found them by checking the TVLine descriptions and seeing which actors/producers are PoCs. If a show coming up with PoCs is being made but not on this list, I just didn’t notice. Definitely not an extensive list, and I’ll be keeping an eye out for more along the way.

Descriptions are from TVLine

Fresh Off the Boat (Comedy)
EPs | Nahnatchka Kahn (Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23), Jake Kasdan, and Melvin Mar
It’s the 90’s and hip hop loving Eddie is growing up in suburban Orlando, raised by an immigrant father who is obsessed with all things American and an immigrant mother who is often bewildered by white culture. With his father owning and operating an All-American Steakhouse chain, this loving family of FOB (“fresh off the boat”) Taiwanese Americans try to live the American dream while still maintaining their cultural identity and sense of family. [ABC]

I hope this makes it just because its an ethnicity we don’t get to see much of on television. The specifics of Asian culture is often grossly glossed over. I went to school with Asian students with families from all over the continent, so I got a chance to learn about different aspects of Asian life and how each nationality differs from each other, but most Americans don’t know Asian from being specifically Chinese or Japanese. Just because TV is entertainment, doesn’t mean you should never learn anything about different people.

How to Get Away With Murder (Drama)
EPs | Peter Nowalk (Grey’s Anatomy), Shonda Rhimes, Betsy Beers
A sexy, suspense-driven legal thriller about a group of ambitious law students and their brilliant, mysterious criminal defense professor who become entangled in a murder plot that will rock the entire university and change the course of their lives. [ABC]

No guarantees on who the casting will be for this one, but as a Shonda Rhimes show, it is sure to have color-blind casting.

Untitled Kevin Hart Project (Comedy)
EPs | Kevin Hart, Dave Becky, Neil Goldman and Garrett Donovan (Community)
Based on Kevin Hart’s life and stand-up, it takes a candid look at the post-divorce life of a couple trying to forge a friendship for the sake of their kids, despite differences. [ABC]

Kevin Hart has been everywhere. He has like 4 movies out, 3 shows in development, and who knows what else. I don’t know if that over-saturation is stifling his true funniness (some people have said his stand-up special wasn’t as good as the previous ones), but hopefully this turns out good. Kevin Hart is funny and we have zero black sitcoms on network TV. If this AND Blackish get greenlit, that would make a grand total of 2. #sigh

The Flash (Drama)
EPs | Greg Berlanti (Arrow), Andrew Kreisberg, Geoff Johns, David Nutter, Melissa Kellner Berman
DIRECTOR | David Nutter (Arrow)
CAST | Grant Gustin (Glee), Jesse L. Martin (Law & Order), Danielle Panabaker (Shark) and Rick Cosnett (The Vampire Diaries)
The Arrow spin-off follows Barry Allen, a Central City assistant police forensics investigator with a tragic past.

Jesse L. Martin is all I have to say. I bit token-esque, but I’ll let it go lol.

Cabot College (Comedy)
EPs | Matt Hubbard, Tina Fey, Robert Carlock, Pam Fryman, David Miner
DIRECTOR | Pam Fryman (How I Met Your Mother)
CAST | Bonnie Dennison (Third Watch), Jack Cutmore-Scott, Brandon Jones, Margaret Cho (Drop Dead Diva)
A women’s college begins accepting men for the first time in its history.

While I’ll give any new show from Tina a chance, it featuring Margaret Cho is a plus in the diversity factor. Also Pam Fryman from HIMYM fame is a plus for me.

Empire (Drama)
EPs | Danny Strong (The Butler), Lee Daniels (The Butler), Brian Grazer, Francie Calfo
DIRECTOR | Lee Daniels (The Butler)
A unique family drama set in the world of a hip-hop empire [FOX]

I probably wouldn’t watch this, but it could be a great black drama, which are even harder to name than black comedies…

Mr. Robinson (Comedy) — ORDERED TO SERIES
EPs | Mark Cullen and Rob Cullen (Back in the Game), Howard Klein, Mark Schulman
CAST | Craig Robinson (The Office), Larenz Tate (House of Lies), Amanda Lund, Jean Smart (Harry’s Law, Hawaii Five-0)
A talented musician adjusts to his new life as a middle school music teacher, where he maneuvers precocious kids, teacher politics, and the temptations of single moms. [NBC]

This one’s already been ordered to series and stars Office alum Craig Robinson. So there will be at least one new black sitcom coming in fall. It sounds very similar to the Steve Harvey Show, so I’ll have to check it out to see how it’s different/updated for the new millennium.

It surprises me not one bit that none of these shows are for CBS… I don’t remember any for the CW either (and with it’s WB/UPN  strong PoC cast roots, this is sad to say).

IO’m excited for all of these shows featuring people of color. It’s about time we got some new faces on our TV screens. Hopefully these survive pilot season and we get to at least give them a test run in September.

for more, check TVLine’s Pilot Scoop

 

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Pilot Season Diversity Watch: Hieroglyph

EDIT JULY 1, 2014: Hieroglyph, despite it’s straight to series order, was cancelled by Fox. More here.

From TVLine:

Hieroglyph (Drama) — ORDERED TO SERIES [FOX]
EPs | Travis Beacham (Pacific Rim), Peter Chernin, Katherine Pope, Miguel Sapochnik
CAST | Reece Ritchie, Kelsey Chow, Condola Rashad
A notorious thief is plucked from prison to serve the Pharoah, navigating palace intrigue, seductive concubines, criminal underbellies and even a few divine sorcerers.

It seems FOX is committing to it’s diversity in sci-fi theme. After the success of this year’s Sleepy Hollow, FOX has ordered another supernatural drama with PoC in the lead role. Also for a 13 episode run, Hieroglyph has already been ordered to series, meaning we’ll see it when they air it.

As someone who loves The Mummy, I’m hoping it’s something in the same vein. I wonder if it’s airing in conjunction with Sleepy Hollow which is set to return next fall. Both series are supernatural shows with PoCs as leads and I think Sleepy Hollow’s success could mean pairing them together on the same night to give this new show Sleepy Hollow’s lead-in numbers. I could also see it as a summer series, perhaps in Sleepy Hollow’s same time slot. Either way, I’m excited to see what they do. FOX seems to be trying to make up for cancelling Dollhouse and Firefly (and causing other shows to derail because of executive meddling), so hopefully they keep it up.

for more, check TVLine’s Pilot ScoopFox Gives 13-Episode Series Order To Ancient Egypt Drama ‘Hieroglyph’ From Travis Beacham & Chernin Entertainment

Pilot Season Diversity Watch: Anthony Anderson to Star in ABC Comedy Pilot ‘Black-ish’

It’s early pilot season, so it’s a good time to start looking at the shows coming to our screens in the fall. Let’s look at the shows with diverse casting or production staffs that have been greenlit by the network. This doesn’t mean they’ll air in Fall–that depends on various things and most decisions are put forth in May–but they’ve been approved to be shot.

One pilot to look for is Black-ish, starring Anthony Anderson. Here’s the  TVLine description:

Black-ish (Comedy) [ABC]
EPs | Kenya Barris, Anthony Anderson, Laurence Fishburne, Helen Sugland, Tom Russo, Peter Principato, Paul Young, Brian Dobbins
CAST | Anthony Anderson (Guys With Kids)
An upper-middle class black man struggles to raise his children with a sense of cultural identity despite constant contradictions and obstacles coming from his liberal wife, old-school father and his own assimilated, color-blind kids

Sounds interesting. I hope it doesn’t go the way of Guys with Kids, which failed to really spark anything in me and I gave up after like 2 episodes. I think this wants to hearken back to the Cosby Show, which I loved, but updated for a modern era. The Cosby Show was more insulated in terms of who the kids hung out with than this sounds like it will be.

I wonder why there are so many executive producers, usually we get one or two main names, rather than the list of 8 like above. And is the last time ABC had a majority/all black comedy cast My Wife and Kids (another show it relates to in terms of being a black family comedy, but again, that show was very isolated in terms of who the family interacted with on camera)?

I’m not sure how I feel about the title, or some of the implications. I can only hope that while maintaining “cultural identity,” the show also focuses on and allows the kids and the family to like “non-traditional” things and it being ok or at least a plot point. I could see Anderson’s character trying to get his kids to like classic hip-hop but they like rock instead (just a random example). Which, it’s great and necessary for black children to know their culture and where they came from, but also realize that black people are not a monolith and can enjoy a variety of pursuits not traditionally seen as a part of black culture. A fine line to walk, but one that might be necessary going forward.

I hope we hear more about this.

for more, check TVLine’s Pilot Scoop

Anthony Anderson to Star in ABC Comedy Pilot ‘Black-ish’.

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