March 24, 2015

TV starts to reflect America

So, So Fresh: US TV Is Starting to Reflect the US

By Eisa Nefertari UlenBuoyed by the success of ABC's "Modern Family," television has developed projects that more accurately express who we are. It is glorious and wonderful and mostly just fun. Shows like "Fresh Off the Boat," "Blackish," even "Empire," "Scandal" and "How to Get Away With Murder," do more than just center people of color in each 30 or 60-minute time slot, and also do much more than accurately reflect how we look. These shows also express a refreshing diversity in terms of how we think, how we feel, even how we parent in non-White families and, often gloriously, perfectly hilariously, these shows center how we be.

The moment feels a whole lot like the country has flash-danced back to another era. Television in the late 1980s and 1990s, back in the "Humpty" days, celebrated Black family. Sensing that the post-Norman Lear lineups were too white and that the United States was way ready for a few shades of brown, NBC piloted "The Cosby Show," and family television forever changed.
The examples include Fresh Off the Boat:Do we still want more Asians in our primetime lineup? Hells yeah! But only if they're featured on a show as good as "Fresh Off the Boat." The nearly unprecedented wonder of a television program featuring Asian-Americans makes "Fresh" worth focusing on. Perhaps because the comedy series is based on the 2013 same-titled memoir written by the real-life Eddie Huang, "Fresh" is fresh. The title teases the racialist, derogatory term used to describe newly arrived immigrants, but it's also a big pun, a play on the positive, affirming hip-hop colloquialism for anything extra ahead of the mainstream. This verbal dexterity is just one of the program's never-ending winks.And Empire, whichis beautiful, one of the most important programs in US television. On its surface, Lee Daniels' primetime serial is simply another iteration of the soap operas that have captivated US audiences since the 1964 debut of "Peyton Place." But, with the program's elegant use of Kehinde Wiley portraiture, examinations of the human condition, exploration of important social issues and its central theme of love, aching human love, "Empire" is a work of telegenic triumph.More on Empire, this year's breakout show in terms of diversity:

Why Can’t We Stop Watching ‘Empire’?What is it about “Empire,” the Fox series about a family of music moguls that wraps up its first season this week, that makes the show so addictive? It might be the juicy plotlines; Taraji P. Henson’s ferocious and charming portrayal of Cookie Lyon, the estranged matriarch of the family; the so-bad-it’s-almost-good soundtrack, produced by Timbaland; or some combination of all three. The soapy drama, which debuted in January, was the highest-rated new series on television this season. Its ratings and audience numbers have risen each week the show has aired—a phenomenon that is practically unheard-of. Fox has already renewed the series for a second season.

The appeal of “Empire” is widespread—roughly 15 million people watch every week—but according to Nielsen, the show resonates particularly strongly with black viewers, who make up 62 percent of its primary audience. NPR’s Code Switch blog called the “Empire” success a “particular achievement for a show with an almost entirely black cast.”
Below:  Bryshere Gray, Terrence Howard, Trai Byers at the FOX TV "Empire" Premiere Event at a ArcLight Cinerama Dome Theater on January 6, 2014 in Los Angeles, CA.

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