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9.12.2010

cross post: fall 2010 tv season preview


I'm on vacation! Taking a much-needed break. But don't worry. While I'm away, I've enlisted some great guest bloggers to keep things going around here. Here's an excerpt, cross-posted with permission, from Racebending.com's Fall 2010 TV Season Preview.

The Fall TV Season always brings in new shows, and this fall, shows that feature actors of color are featuring them in innovative ways. There's an Afro-Cuban president, and a Latino Supreme Court Justice. Two spy shows both feature actors of color as the titular leads!

Despite these advances, Ray Bradford, the national director for equal employment opportunities at the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) describes the Fall 2010 television season as "really troubling." "What I'm seeing is, with a few exceptions, not only shows that are predominately Caucasian with a smattering of minorities, primarily black or Asian in some roles; I'm seeing primarily Caucasian shows period," Bradford said. "So while for each quarter you may have a handful of African Americans or Asians or Latinos, the bulk of the work in these shows is white."

Some shows stick to formula, using actors of color in key roles, but still orbiting the white, male, featured lead. But we hope that the shows that are willing to take risks will do really well this fall and encourage more network television studios to offer equal opportunities to actors of color.

Here, Racebending.com takes a look at some of Fall 2010's diverse network television offerings. Thankfully, these are not the only shows this fall that will feature people of color in key roles!

NIKITA


The CW (Thur. 9/8c)
"When her fiance was murdered, Nikita escaped the Division. Now, after three years in hiding, Nikita is seeking retribution and making it clear to her former bosses that she will stop at nothing to expose and destroy their covert operation."
It's also not often that women–particularly women of color–get to star as the lead in an action series. Maggie Q.'s casting is The CW's highest-profile minority casting in the network's history, and highest-profile series role for an Asian actress on a broadcast drama series, ever. [source].

When asked about the significance of her casting at Comic Con 2010, Maggie Q. said: "I am not the typical choice for this, and am glad to be able to represent a group of people who are underrepresented." [source].

What We Don't Want to See: In a genre that tends to sexualize and objectify women–in an industry that particularly sexualizes and objectifies Asian women - it would be easy for Hollywood to, well, go there and reinforce the "Dragon Lady" stereotype. Series creator Craig Silverstein said he wanted to write the lead as "beautiful and exotic" and it looks like critics are already thinking that "exotic" is a great word to use when describing Maggie Q. (Here's to hoping the use of the word "exotic" won't bleed over into the show's racy advertising.)

We also really hope the show doesn't goes the way of other recent shows with women leads in action roles, like Dollhouse and Sarah Connor Chronicles. Maybe this one will be an Alias instead of a Bionic Woman.

What We'd Love to See: There's a lot of women in the lead cast, including the very talented Melinda Clarke, so it would be great to see the show regularly pass the Bechedel test!(Bechedel test: Two women in a scene, having a conversation, talking about something other than a man.)

Aside from Maggie Q., the supporting cast is a bit monochrome, but we hope the show will feature the secret Division of the CIA as a globe-spanning organization with a diverse set of operatives. Given that 60% or so of the world population is Asian, an Asian spy-assassin can probably go places and blend in where Sydney Bristow from Alias could not!

So what else is on the tube? Be sure to read the rest of the Fall 2010 TV Season Preview over at Racebending.com.