I have not seen the show. “Girls”. It does not sound like a program that would capture my interest. I have previously seen some other shows mentioned in the article; Friends, The Office, Sex in the City, Seinfeld, and the movie, ‘Precious’. (I also was uninterested in the reality program, ”Gossip Girl”). The author raises some valid points about the program, “Girls’” failure to represent an even moderately accurate cultural and ethnic demographic portrayal of society.
Urban society does not exist in colored bubbles, separate from each other. Rather, it resembles psychedelic, multi-colored clumps, littered with graffiti, aromatic lingering of a complex variety of food, and the electric hum of hearts and feet pounding.
Friendships, working/office partnerships, relationships are increasingly likely to be multi-racial, kaleidoscopes of interesting, multi-faceted people with a multitude of unique and shared realities. For television to pretend otherwise is both ridiculous and insulting.
Programs can provide viewers anecdotal glimpses towards realities that may or may not reflect our own circumstances. We either identify with a program in some way, or we do not. For instance, one lady in the article noted that “as a black woman she had more in common with the characters on Seinfeld than with any on the Tyler Payne show”. This was important to note. Just because we are white or black or yellow or brown does not guarantee representation by sameness of color. And it is unfair to assume that color determines experience. This is an outdated stereotype that is ineffectively perpetuated in television programs that unfairly purpose this to be truth. In this way, the viewer is reduced to less than intelligent and sadly incapable of depthful comprehension.
Many factors contributing to what makes a program real or valid for a viewer. If the program does a good job, the audience will connect to some element of the cast or topic of the program and be drawn to that show. Situational events, dynamics between characters conflicting eccentricities, character development, familiarity of the above, etc. if no connection is made, to an audience, the show fails to make its point. And programs cannot rely on typical stereotyping of ethnic groups when the token “others” are added for mild vanillic flavor…”sexy Latina woman, homeless black man”…such grandiose statements are offensive to many. And as the author suggested, persons of those particular ethnic groups did not feel represented by these negative portrayals (of the few non-white cast members appearing in the show).
So something that may not have been about race initially, intentionally, or on some level, but due to misguided lack of depth and lack of research, produced an inaccurate assumption that the audience would not see through this oversight, and hold producers accountable for mis/under-representation.
Interestingly, I recently became aware that the reality program, “The Bachelor/Bachelorette is finally being sued for racism based on a similar argument…hmmm…
This lack of realistic and appropriate depth and representation in programming leaves a bad taste in our mouths. Perhaps we are finally brave enough to address it so that we can change it.
To read the article this commentary is based on click this link.