I scarcely watch live television because I’m a Millennial, and I have gotten entirely used to no commercials, or at least only 90 seconds of commercials because I don’t feel like paying for Hulu. This means that I rely on word of mouth or remembering to check out roundups of new shows on websites like Variety so that I can try them out.
So two television shows I’ve found, even though I don’t even know what nights they air, are Quantico and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. They’re great, they’re funny (the latter), and they do a lot of shit right. Obviously they’re not perfect, because what show is, but I’m going to be really supportive here, because they are doing things better than most other shows ever hope to do. I’m going to tell you why they’re amazing, and I’m going to do so with a fair amount of rage directed at all the people who claim that diversity is an “agenda” and that there needs to be a “reason” for someone to be nonwhite. Because we all know that to be white is to be raceless and normal and universal, because race doesn’t inform the living experience of a white person, right? Ha.
I’ve somewhat grown tired of crime procedurals, because obviously they’re unrealistic, and frankly I don’t think it helps people understand how much policing is based in institutional racism when we have a disproportionate number of saintly cops on TV (I’m not saying 100% of cops are bad, but there’s very little nuance on any show about them). Like the only time you see a “bad” cop is someone with a good heart who got swept up in financial corruption. Bleh.
But I’m all about Quantico, because the casting was clearly inspired by the Shondaland approach. You know, where you actually cast based on “quality”* and let everyone audition so that you can see who best fits the role you made up in your head instead of narrowing the field before you see it – for no fucking reason.** Anyway. The main character, Alex Parrish, was clearly created with a white person in mind, because look at that name. But Priyanka Chopra plays the character, and the only change that seems to have been made is that since they didn’t change the name, they threw in the idea that she was biracial and gave her a white father. Easy peasy! I’m down with that. Continue reading
I think my love for Shonda Rhimes is fairly well known. The day Grey’s Anatomy premiered, March 27, 2005, I was an unhappy, angry 16-year-old high school sophomore. I was lost as a scholarship kid, black girl, semi-intellectual, semi-creative who couldn’t quite pin down her people, her passion, her direction, or her place amid a sea of both supporting and microaggressing cast members. I felt so alone, like every teenager does, and what’s more, I didn’t have the words that I would learn in college and from the internet – words like “microaggress” and “privilege” and “blackness” and “marginalization” – that would let me properly express what I felt was happening to me, and so even with my best efforts I couldn’t find myself a way out or in or through.
Then I, or maybe my mom, decided to keep the TV on for some random new show that we would half heartedly watch. It was a Sunday, which meant it was the night that my mom put on any old crap while she was ironing clothes. And I probably did not have homework, or if I did, I had no interest in doing it. So I watched, too.
And there it was. Continue reading
As usual, I have finally gotten to that bit of pop culture that everyone else got to ages ago and is probably totally over. This time, it’s Orphan Black. I watched the entire first season in about three days because it’s absolutely captivating and addictive, and the damn good writers end every episode with a true cliffhanger.
Discussions of great acting and cool storytelling aside, there are two things about the show that have especially made me think.
One is race and the zeitgeist of white tears, white feelings, and whites being all, “I’m not racist; I have a Mexican friend.” The other is race and stories more broadly.
First: Allison. Nothing made me more excited than when they revealed her kids to be black, or mixed black and something*. Then they showed her husband, Donnie, and I was like, hmmm. I didn’t know whether to be sad that she didn’t have a black husband or excited that adoption was such a non-issue that all they needed to do was show her kids and then once have her ask offhand if Sarah’s daughter was adopted, too. I was a little like, “omg because adoption is THAT normal? Awesome!” and then it turned out that it’s because clones are supposed to be sterile. But still. It’s never been brought up again, because it’s more important that Allison is a soccer mom harboring a serious substance abuse addiction but who loves her kids because they’re her kids, period.
Then you get the episode where Victor accosts her, thinking she’s Sarah. So Allison calls Sarah and tries to describe whom she just encountered. Continue reading