Television shows featuring black women happily boo-ed up with their white male significant others are gaining traction and started to appear more frequently. But this increased visibility is also bringing some critique.
Last Spring the limited-run series (before it was picked up as a regular) ABC show “Scandal” featured actress Kerry Washington as a Washington D.C “fixer” who had been having an affair with the President of the United States. Some people had a problem with the fact that black female fixer was polished, professional, and single but had jumped into a liaison with a married man. (Spoiler: Kerry’s character had previously ended the affair.)
Having problems with the way a black woman is portrayed is one thing, but New York Times television critic Neil Genzlinger goes a step (or two, or three) further and sees something more sinister in the way black women’s relationships with white men are seen on TV. Genzlinger thinks those relationships look “suspect”–his word, not mine. And he hints that there might some sorta conspiracy theory underfoot.
As evidence of this possible conspiracy to portray black women and their relationships as suspect, he obligatorily cites “Scandal“. OK: A black woman; a white man; people getting greased to keep secrets. Yeah, I could see how “Scandal” might look a little shifty if you were looking hard enough. But if you are looking that hard, you’re probably looking too hard. There is nothing odd about the behavior of Washington’s character on the show and the President seems, well, presidential. Powerful men have been getting themselves caught up in all manner of craziness since the beginning of time, the only difference with “Scandal” is that the woman who the powerful man falls for happens to be black.
Genzlinger then cites “The Neighbors,” a new ABC sitcom about a neighborhood inhabited by space aliens. In the show, a mixed-race woman and her white husband do truly weird things, like cry through their ears and talk using pedantic speech. Yeah, the couple is weird, but they’re aliens–they’re supposed to be weird! Considering that I just finished watching the entire third season of the SyFy channel’s now-defunct show “Battlestar Galactica” which features a white man–who is fully human–married to an Asian woman who is one-hundred percent alien, I’m having a hard time with the suggestion that the mixed-raced alien couple on “The Neighbors” is somehow particularly weird due to their ethnic combination.
Finally, the columnist mentions another new ABC series “666 Park Avenue,” centered around Gavin and Olivia Doran, played by Terry O’Quinn and Vanessa Williams. The couple are the owners of a demonic New York apartment building named the Drake. Again, I have to ask: What is the connection between the couple being interracial and the fact that the show is about the supernatural? From where I’m sitting, there is no connection.
Lets allow these television shows to either rise or fall on their own merits, no crazy conspiracy theories needed.