Wednesday, March 18, 2009

No, We Can't...

...put black people on tv:
On the eve of Barack Obama’s election last fall as the first African-American president, television seemed to be leaning toward a post-racial future. In October two prominent cable networks — CNN and Comedy Central — began new programs that featured black hosts, a development that was notable because so few current programs on cable or broadcast channels have minority leads.

Five months later both programs — “Chocolate News,” featuring David Alan Grier on Comedy Central, and “D. L. Hughley Breaks the News” on CNN — have been discontinued. In addition, CW, the broadcast network that regularly features comedies with largely African-American casts, announced in February that it was renewing six popular series, but its two with mostly black performers — “Everybody Hates Chris” and “The Game” — were not among them. (The network says it is still deciding their fates.)
I only saw Chocolate News once or twice, but outside of its opening monologue, I thought it was rather lame. D.L. Hughley's show, however, was getting better, after getting off to a rocky start. D.L.'s interviewing skills rapidly improved; for example, the Michael Steele interview.

I think this is one part institutional racism, and one part poor quality. Whyinhell are these shows always comedies? Can't the networks produce and support a dramatic series with a black cast? Then again, I think that Ernie Kovacs was right, when he said that television is "a medium, because it is neither rare nor well-done."

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