Because You Demanded It: The Racialicious Roundtable For Flash Forward

Hosted By Special Correspondent Arturo R. García

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[Writer's note: What happened to Heroes, you ask? Stay tuned next week, True Believers. Now, let's roll with the new ...]

algough1The most amazing thing about Flash Forward? Not the Blackout. Not the crows falling from the sky. Not the diverse array of visions being assembled in the Mosaic. Not even Joseph Fiennes’ character being dumb enough to trust Rudolph The Nazi. It’s Al.

See, Al is a classic That Guy character: not one of the major players, not even a major supporting character. He just seems to weave in and out, backing people up as needed. And most of the time, That Guy (or Girl) – that neutral, almost inconsequential character – is played by a white person. But here’s Al, just … being.

And catching up to the show late as I am has been eye-opening: POC characters being COMPETENT! Involved in PRIMARY STORYLINES! And not crying every five minutes! But, I’m glad we seem to be moving past the “What did you see?” stuff and start solving the case already. Let’s see what the ‘Table thinks!

How do you feel about the series’ pace so far?
Mahsino: So I may be in the minority here, but this show doesn’t really do much for me either way. I want to like it, and I don’t hate it -except when they tried to slip Nazis by me. I just don’t care about any of these characters. But now that Ugly Betty is on Friday’s it’s not like I watch anything at that timeslot anyway, so I might as well pull out the Snuggie (don’t judge me) and adjust the snark. And I hate the main character’s wife – btw, that’s how invested I’ve been in this show, that I haven’t bothered to learn anyone but Demetri’sname.

jen*: I, on the other hand, really like the show. But I still hate most of the characters. So far, I’m in it for the story. I understand they’ve gotta make it last, but I’m kinda wondering about the pace. I love Cho on GP, but also really like his character. And his story is way better than Fiennes’. Blech – I basically hate everyone except for Cho, Steve/Norrington, and cutie-patootie Lee Thompson Young (he should get more screen time). BUT! That whole Nazi thing sucked. If people were paying more attention instead of running around like headless chickens, I have confidence *someone* could’ve figured out that bird thing.

Diana: Hasn’t completely grown on me yet, but I’m keeping an open mind. One thing I really didn’t like was Courtney Vance’s character having his flash forward on the toilet. He deserves some more dignity than that. I think Joseph Fiennes is a bit of a tool. But Cho is good and good to look at. I like that he’s with a black woman, although I’m generally lukewarm about Gabrielle Union as an actress. But you can’t have everything you want. Mahsino, I want a Snuggie and one for my little dog too.

Andrea: I stand by my initial recommendation. The pace … considering that it’s 1) trying to establish the collective-consciousness underpinnings of the flash-forwards (and that now cliche message of how we’re all interconnected), 2) the slowness of trying to figure out the story of what happened while folks flash-forwarded (because only that stadium camera caught one (of the few?) who was lurking while everyone else passed out), and 3) we’re also watching many, many potential Butterfly Effects, I have patience with it. Though I’m with Mahsino on one point: I can’t stand the main character’s wife, either. Whatever her name is.

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And speaking of pleasant surprises, let’s talk about Demetri and Zoey. Commence the Cho/Union … uh, union love here!
Mahsino: Cho’s back must be tired from all that show carrying he’s been doing. I’ll admit the chemistry is there, but I’m pretty meh about Union’s acting in general (I just cannot forgive the crap Bring It On hath spawned and hold her partially responsible).
Andrea: That’s why it was good to see him laying down and laying down Zoey, too. Wait…::blush::
jen*: Once again – I’m on the other side, Mahsino. I soak up all the cheese from the very craziest of the bazillion Bring It On knockoffs. Except I actually agree about Union’s acting, in this show as well as everything else. (I just have a really high tolerance.) But I’ve felt like we’ve needed more of her on the show just to move the story along. This show has some really cool aspects, seems like it’s equal opportunity, but still looks like even boring white people get more play than hot brown people with really cool stories.
Diana: Again, I like Cho and he makes up for a lot that’s lacking. Does anyone know a black woman named Zoey?
Andrea: Stop that, Diana. No vetting proper names for fictional Black women, Ms. Baddie. Beyond my rah-rah-ing their passionate reunion (again, note the hotel room’s state), what fascinated me was a simple, yet repeated, gesture Cho did: he touched Union’s hair. With all this yakkity-schmack about how Black women don’t want lovers touching our hair, especially if it’s a weave, that was a wonderfully normalizing gesture.

The one character I can do without, honestly, is Aaron Stark. His storyline just seems superfluous.
jen*: ditto.
Mahsino: yeah, I don’t get him.
Diana: Me neither. And seeing dead people has been done already.
Andrea: See, he’s so superfluous, I don’t know who he is. But, by that standard, Heroes would have been cancelled by now.

Ok, who’s the more surprising terrorist: Charlie The Hobbit or friggin’ Steve from Coupling?
Mahsino: I refuse to believe that either of these two had anything to due with the blackouts. They don’t fit the stereotypical brand of terrorist that 24 has made me grow accustomed to, I’m confused.
jen*: Steve. Hmm. But I just am not getting how “terrorists” could cause the entire world to blackout. I know it’s scifi, I just need a speedier route to figuring out the mystery. Give me something in the way of explanation, here.
Diana: Too early to say who’s really a baddie.
Andrea: Agreed, Diana.

Open mic!
Mahsino: I feel like this show is the island for actors of color who’ve payed their dues and haven’t been getting their proper shine. Courtney B. Vance, Lynn Whitfield, Gina Torres, that guy from The Famous Jett Jackson, I see what they’re doing here, now all they need is Keiko Agena, and this show will have me invested for its’ inevitable short life.
jen*: That’s where LTY is from! I knew I’d seen him before. And I forgot about Gina Torres [yay for her!]. But still – their stories are flat and unexplored while we see more of the stubborn lead who unilaterally decided to free a Nazi for sketchy news. I’ll be watching as long as Cho stays alive and they keep moving the story forward. But Shakespeare in Love was eleven years ago, and that really was the last time I had any desire to see Joseph Fiennes. Shoot, I’ve been rooting for his wife to leave him since…ep 1? [Two-hands in the air voting for Lane to come to FF!]
Diana: I like Gina Torres –she seems to rotate around sci-fi themed projects: the Matrix trilogy, Serenity. I’m glad these folks are getting a pay check. Hopefully the story lines will become fuller and more compelling.
Andrea: Which means they need to watch Heroes … as a cautionary tale on how not to treat characters of color.

Well, so far, so good. But the honeymoon for the show may be over sooner than anybody expected. Earlier this week, The Hollywood Reporter, uh, reported that showrunner Marc Guggenheim will be leaving the show. The reason? Ratings are already starting to slip. Can the series maintain its’ momentum? And how long are you willing to wait for it to do so?

Character bios courtesy of Flash Forward Wiki