You're my BBFF!

There’s an actress named Merrin Dungey who is from my hometown. She’s ten years older than me and didn’t go to my school, but she DID go to the rival school (which happened to be the whitest school ever possible, so much so that when I was on campus for some yearbook related class, all 5 of the black kids in the school bumrushed me and asked if I was attending. They were practically salivating. I almost felt bad saying no.) So that’s exciting. I stopped watching Alias after she left the show, and I’ve seen her occasionally on The King of Queens. Summerland…eh. No thanks.

Anyway, she looks great for her age, but has kind of a scary mouth sometimes. I like her though. She was supposed to play Naomi on the Grey’s Anatomy spin-off Private Practice but they ended up replacing her with Audra McDonald (who I also really like), who supposedly had more “chemistry” with Kate Walsh. Why couldn’t they bump that Judging Amy chick and replace her with Audra (Yeah, yeah, I know…doesn’t solve the “chemistry” issue. But go with it)? Since they’re all about the colorblind casting. Oh, only have room for one black woman? Too bad. They must not have gotten the memo that Merrin is like, REALLY REALLY good at playing the black best friend. She can even switch it up and play an evil version of herself, pretending to still be the sweet BBFF she always was, until one day she ate the wrong ice cream and it was ON.

Besides Girlfriends (which is on Sunday nights on the friggin’ CW, also known as Where all the black people on television are relegated to for the entire week) I have yet to see a show where a black woman is the lead character. And a full hour show would be nice, not a half hour comedy shown only on Sunday nights and mostly on BET. We all know black people can be funny people! Give me something to really sink my teeth into. Why can’t blacks play roles where they’re not barking orders or shufflin’ and jivin’ to make people laugh, where they’re not being used as a foil for the main character, basically playing second fiddle forever and a day, where their lot in life is to be something other than a human prop for old girl? Why must black women ALWAYS be the sidekick?

I remember when Grey’s Anatomy was getting touted around as this colorblind doctor drama; every article, every interview crowed about the diverse casting. Gee look! A black chief of medicine! Black people who are in positions of power! A black man with an Asian woman…it’s so cutting edge my head just exploded! First off: the show is centered around 5 interns and their struggles. Of those 5 interns, 4 are white. Then you bring in 3 background black characters in positions of power as if that’s something incredible to behold. You’ve done nothing so far that I’m impressed at. It would’ve been nice to see a black intern, quaking in his/her boots, in the prime of life: young, attractive, easy-going. Hell, throw in 2 or 3! And who hasn’t seen a black man and an Asian woman together? Yeah, still not impressed.

I’d say 99.9% of the shows I watch now have a BBFF. It’s so progressive to have a show with a white main character and their one black best friend, but bad marketing to have a black main character. Really want to pat yourselves on the backs people? (Wo)Man up and put some black people in the forefront!

I found a blog that said a lot of what I’m saying here…funny how many people can have the same notions. Don’t agree with the Merrin vs. Audra thing, though.

http://orvillelloyddouglas.wordpress.com/2007/09/29/will-the-black-mammies-of-television-ever-find-love/

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7 Comments

Filed under black women, Media, Opinion, Race, Rant, TV

7 responses to “You're my BBFF!

  1. I wish I had a good answer :(.
    People are just scared I guess. Of course I think their retarded and can’t understand them. I think people in positions of high money-power concentration get locked into a rut, and you CANNOT change their mind without destroying their entire business model basically.

    Look at the music industry and their treatment of digital music. (Sidebar I know, but seriously). They fought tooth and nail against it because it was “different”…and as a result they are slowly dying.

    If only the Hollywood power complex would implode as well! There is a chance that internet-tv and indie-tv (if it ever hits) may show them how outdated their business model is (I think at least a sizeable amount of people these days just want to see hot people on tv, they don’t think so much about the race bit. I hope anyway) and force them to either buckle or change.

    I think as budgets drop if TV & movie viewership drops as a result of our culture’s new net-based lifestyle, we’ll see people taking a lot more risks, because they have much less to lose. I hope web-tv takes off, because it will be the perfect proving ground for new types of TV. Those crazy ideas like shows with black female leads that aren’t comedies, shows with less “Hollywood looking” people, shows with less cliche plots, who knows really.

    Once people try these things they’ll probably realize that there is no reason to get so stuck in the fucking mold anymore (the current mold seems to revolve around reality tv *puke*).

    I think it’s weird that non-cable TV at least is like..straight-whiteyfying itself again. We’ve had years of progress with non-heteros and non-whites making it into successful TV shows, then all of a sudden their numbers start dropping. WTF?

  2. I just posted a giant comment and it went away :(.

  3. Bethany Morrow

    Reaction one: *exasperated sigh* Black people never want to wait their turn. Try and see it from our marketing point of view. We’ll throw you a bone when the time is right!
    Reaction two: *disheartened sigh* It’s always about race with you people.

  4. Jen

    I know! Why can’t black people just get over it already?! Whiners.

  5. Beaugrand®™©

    RATINGS.

    Convince the Hollywood power brokers that a strong black female lead will make good ratings and you’ll have several shows with black female leads next season.

    I think every actor of stature should be in at least one each of:
    a Western;
    a Detective Mystery;
    a Science Fiction epic;
    a Sailing/Swashbuckling Adventure.

  6. Jen

    I think you missed the point of what I was saying here. I know why there are no black female main character on television …and it has a helluva lot to do with misconceptions, racism, stereotypes and fear (…oh and ratings). Actually, the list goes on and on. Good times!

  7. Bethany Morrow

    No, no. I think Beau’s on to something. Swashbuckling. That worked out semi-well with the TWO Black women cast in the increasingly upsetting Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. One got to slap Johnny and the other was a black toothed Calypso!

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