I’m looking forward to reading this book. As a TV head, I enthusiastically read a lot of books about television shows. I have always been interested in how shows are conceived and how actors and creators work together as well as their observations regarding their contributions to American culture. I’m very interested in seeing what these authors consider to be the “Greatest American Television Shows of All Time”. Alan Sepinwall and Matt Zoller Seitz are seasoned television critics and I have been reading them for years.
With that in mind, I am reminded by how often I read lists like these and rarely if ever see shows that are great and resonate with me as a black woman. For example, I loved the UPN comedy “Girlfriends”. Produced by Mara Brock Akil back in 2000 this show was a snapshot of black womanhood. I knew women like Max, Khadijah, Synclaire and Regine and enjoyed watching those characters navagate their lives in a humorous way. FOX’s ” Living Single” pre-dated the celebrated show NBC show “Friends” by a year. Some critics said it was groundbreaking and a true ensemble show. Really? 6 white friends living in an apartment building in New York City versus 6 African American friends living in a brownstone in Brooklyn? Friends was the exact same show as Living Single. The difference? Mainstream America could see themselves in those 6 friends living in an apartment in Manhattan.
I recently posted on Twitter 7 of my favorite TV shows. Girlfriends, Living Single, NY Undercover, 30 Rock, The Practice, LA Law, and Murphy Brown. NY Undercover was an awesome show because it was the first time I EVER saw a TV crime drama where the leads look like me. The detectives they portrayed solved the crimes and had personal lives too. Soul Food the series was another favorite that portrayed a realistic black family.
The other listed above shows are favorites for various reasons. 30 Rock because it’s so well written and completely silly. Tina Fey is a masterful comedic writer whose talent I admire. I have been a huge fan of writer/producer David E. Kelley since the 80’s when he was a writer on NBC’s L.A. Law. This Emmy winning producer is responsible for introducing me to Blair Underwood’s dynamic character, attorney Jonathan Rollins. Kelley also created and wrote episodes of the ABC legal drama The Practice. The writing on that show was so good and I loved actor Steve Harris playing attorney Eugene Young .
As for Murphy Brown, it’s a personal favorite. Candace Bergen plays a tough journalist with a highly rated magazine show like 60 Minutes. I loved how strong, independent, successful and competitive she was. She wasn’t married and owned her own home. She loved her job and was very cool with who she was. I rarely saw anyone of color in that newsroom but I didn’t care. Murphy Brown represented a exaggerated version of who I thought I wanted to be when I was beginning my radio career.
Everyone has a favorite TV show and these are only a few of mine. Feel free to share your favorites too.