We’re headed in the right direction. A short list of contemporary shows that are getting attention or have certainly received critical acclaim although they might not be on air now (due to long stints with much respect):
Empire, Modern Family, Black-ish, The Office, Parks & Recreation. And of course, Fresh Off the Boat (if you haven’t heard).
It even rivals the heyday in the 70s: Welcome Back Kotter, Good Times, Sanford and Son, Chico and the Man, Archie Bunker’s Place which discussed racial stereotypes with a pinpoint eye and eventually led us to the Jeffersons in the early 80s.
We seemed to lose our way in the 80’s with the popular prime time very rich and white soap opera format (think Dallas, Dynasty) and a lot of very White-oriented sitcoms, which continued on until the 90’s. (Remember the TGIF series? Teen dramas Dawson’s Creek? Felicity?)
What is the difference between now vs. then? Perhaps there was a focus on the urban audience, so living in a high rise in a neighborhood but now the shift is to the suburbs, so more and more viewers are engaged because whatever race they are, they are all relating to the same experience, which may not necessarily have anything to do with the skin color. And there seems to be more and more good writers out there. Which is why HBO and other networks are encouraging and offering fellowships and opportunities to writers of color and women to see how the process works.
Hold on to that remote control tightly. It will be exciting to see what the next few years will bring us when we turn on that television. (end)