Monday, April 23, 2012

If TV is a reflection of ourselves, then who the h*ll are we?!

So now there is another show on HBO, Girls, apparently quite good, based in New York City, that is guessed it: Young White Women (YWW).  Rebecca Carroll of the Daily Beast bemoans the lack of diversity…again:
"Another reason people move to New York City is to hang out with people from all over the world—people of every different racial and ethnic background imaginable. Not that you’d know it from watching HBO’s new comedy series Girls—or Sex and the City, or Friends, or Seinfeld, among other New York City-based shows. In these settings, you rarely see a black person in the periphery, let alone as a main character.
Just for the fun of it, I decided to count the number of black faces in the first episode. I counted three random black extras—a black man walking down the sidewalk behind Hannah and Marni in an early scene; a black man and a black woman in the crowd outside the hotel in the last scene. I see more black people than that in the five minutes it takes me to walk to the subway from my apartment in Brooklyn."
Now, from what I understand since I don't have HBO, these are twenty-somethings, just trying to make it in NYC and they don't look like the standard hot-chick-with-it-all-together types of character.  They're just "normal". Apparently, the writing is "fresh" and "original" and "realistic". I just want to say I'm tired of being left out of "fresh" and "original" and "realistic". My frustration is not really aimed at this particular show per se, but that yet again, we have a show that doesn't really represent the actual diversity of the most diverse city on the planet!  [An aside: I remember my brother wouldn't watch the really good movie, Minority Report, because he just couldn't get past the notion that a movie set in not-too-distant-future Washington, DC could only have one black character in it. For those that may not be aware, currently blacks make up the majority of the population in Washington; DC's well known nickname is Chocolate City. "In the future are there no blacks still living in Washington, DC?" he asked]  I get that somebody that looks like me cannot be in the show The Tudors or my favorite Game of Thrones. But a show in New York City?!! In fairness, though, this show only portends to portray a slice of what life's like for these young women. I understand that every show can't tackle every issue.  The creator has a right to create/define her reality.

You know, it would be different if there were a plethora of dramatic shows about regular people who just happened to not be white. [See Awkward Girl on youtube] 

It's about balance. It's even in the kids shows.  My little Pony has every caucasian stereo-typical voice: western cowgirl, ditzy blond, etc... No one else. Scooby Doo was, in it's own way, trying to be diverse by having different types of caucasians (arguably stereotypical) in it: blond handsome guy, slightly ditzy pretty girl, brainy short, glasses-wearing girl, we-all-know-he's-a-pot-head tall thin guy with the munchies, and of course, the really diverse part -- a talking dog.  Most, if not all, of the guests were white; heck, even the ghosts were white (though I believe ghosts are supposed to be white), and the only black people on the show were the Harlem Globetrotters.  If you didn't know better, you would think that the cartoon universe only consisted of white people and the rest of the planet's demographic population was minuscule in comparison.  But….OMG, I loved this show!  I memorized the theme song and can still sing it to this day.  I watch it with my children with absolute glee.

However, Scooby Doo is a 70s cartoon show.  You would think that 40 years later, in the adult TV world, that there would be more balance.  I don't have to watch "Girls".  It's probably great. I just don't want to watch it.  And I don't want manufactured diversity either.  Dang it, I just want to see shows where there are people who look like me or sound like me or do at least some of the things I do, in a reasonable proportion.  Not all the time, just enough so I don't have to go searching for it…like I do now.  I don't want to see the token black friend,  token zany indian man, token fast talking latina, or token brainy asian.  TV, many times, is aspirational, and if so, TV is telling us we all want to be thin, long haired white women that are "edgy" and "smart", whatever those terms mean. If TV is a reflection of ourselves, then who the hell are we?!  

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