This morning, a friend sent me a link to an article about a Tumbler blog entitled “Every Single Word” where movies are edited so that only the non-white actors in the film speak. Some clips barely last a minute and is intended to showcase the glaring lack of diversity in film. The article says this blog is “pissing hollywood entertainers off” but does not go into who is pissed off or why.
The argument that there are not enough people of color with leading roles in Hollywood is nothing new. I constantly lament over the days when my must see Thursday night TV consisted of Martin, Living Single, and New York Undercover all on one night!!! Later came Girlfriends, Half & Half, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, The Bernie Mac Show, George Lopez and Everybody Hates Chris. But there are some comedies featuring non-white actors if you’re willing to look around the cable TV landscape.
These days, diverse sitcom TV consists of “Blackish” whose comedy for me is rather hit or miss. I can relate to the pilot episode where Andre is conflicted about being promoted to Vice President of the Urban division at the ad agency where he works. The constant attempts he makes to appropriate African American culture into his children’s lives irritates more than amuses me. In May, ABC cancelled the sitcom “Cristella” which was loosely based on comedian Cristella Alonzo’s life in her Mexican American family. It was an enjoyable family sitcom with no smart aleck kids, a gruff grandma and a star who wasn’t making a complete fool of herself every week. It might have lasted longer if it aired on TVLand. Speaking of TVLand, Cedric The Entertainer’s sitcom “The Soul Man” has been quietly airing for three seasons. Though it’s not gut busting funny or groundbreaking, it’s comfort TV with a family I can sorta relate to. I can say the same for “Instant Mom” starring Tia Mowry, Michael Boatman and Sheryl Lee Ralph. The Disney Channel offers KC Undercover starring A Different World alum Kadeem Hardison Tammy Townsend, Kamil McFadden and Zendaya as a Super-Spy crime fighting family. Disney’s diversity track record is better than most. They are not a new network using a particular audience to establish themselves financially, only to abandon them for teen-oriented pop-culture shows. I love what Mindy Kaling has been able to accomplish, not only as a talented writer and creator for her show “The Mindy Project”, but also as an actress who does not fit into the typical skinny girl mold. I have mixed feelings regarding ABC’s “Fresh Off the Boat”. I’m glad to see an Asian family being represented on television that isn’t a straight up stereotype, however I was unable to connect to the main character or his family and didn’t see anything funny about the show. But it got renewed for a second season so somebody is watching it.
Comedy is universal but everything does not appeal to everyone. If a show is funny, it’s funny no matter who is in it.(ie: Frasier and Seinfeld) Writing makes all the difference. But writers can’t write to every experience. Networks call themselves being diverse yet for last year’s TV season, networks presented shows with mostly white casts and MAYBE one or two people of color. (ie: “The Millers,” or the absolutely horrible “Bad Judge”) I won’t even talk about comedies for adults over 40. In August, Craig Robinson and Jerrod Carmichael both have comedies premiering on NBC. The promo clips look promising and I sincerely hope they both do well. I also hope this next TV season offers fresh and diverse comedic voices. I’ll be watching.