By Guest Contributor Kendra James
Ah, Fall. Colorful leaves, riding boots, pumpkin spice lattes, and a brand-new season of television. After a summer break, the Racialicious Weekly TV Roundup is back!
A quick review: The Weekly TV Roundup exists because there are stories we want to share with you each week that we don’t necessarily have time to write about in length,. The three of us don’t watch everything, but this is where you’re likely to hear about shows from Dance Moms to Arrow to Downton Abbey. Think of it as your digest-sized compilation of race and pop culture on television.
This week the world is blessed with the premiere of two Ryan Murphy shows (oh joy), and we have a few newsbites to catch up with from the summer months, so without further ado …
The New Normal: This is the Glee alternate-universe fic that Ryan Murphy wrote where Quinn Fabray doesn’t give her baby up for adoption, Sue Sylvester is her grandmother, Kurt and Blaine grow up and move to Los Angeles, and Coach Roz ends up as Kurt’s assistant. Instead of posting it on Tumblr like a normal member of fandom, he put in on NBC. Go ahead watch it, and tell me I’m wrong.
Or don’t, because if you’re a regular here I imagine you’re going to find that this pilot takes some patience and blinders to get through. Ryan Murphy has a problem: he assumes that as long as he labels something as comedy or satire and features a gay couple he can say whatever the hell he wants. Racist and ableist or not, a gay couple is the key to featuring the same unfunny stereotypical Asians-are-good-at-technology jokes, black-women-are-sassy-and-angry and dwarfism-is-funny jokes that the media’s been giving us for years.The New Normal is chock full of this while–surprise, surprise-the show’s white and able-bodied characters are the only ones who come off as likeable.
This show may be considered groundbreaking in its premise (even though Modern Family and Glee really set the bar for it), but the brand of comedy they’re serving up is Hollywood status quo.
Parenthood: Jason Katims’ NBC dramadey about the giant Braverman clan is the show that reminded me how to enjoy things that don’t involve vampires, werewolves, or the American South. Instead, this show deals with a family in California tackling a wide range of seemingly mundane everyday issues. Teenage sexuality, interracial relationships, and blended families are among the things highlighted for an hour each week. Even more notably the show gets kudos for not falling prey to the trend of simply hinting that a main character may be on the autism spectrum (a la Bones, Criminal Minds and The Big Bang Theory) but actually acknowledging it, diagnosing it, and exploring how autism affects that character and those around them.
The fourth-season opener finds Julia and Joel attempting to help their newly adopted son Victor adjust to life in the family. It’s not going well, nor is it resolved by the end of the first episode so I expect it to be a continuing theme throughout the season. It should be mentioned that Julia and Joel are white while Victor, played by newcomer Xolo Mariduena, is Latino. Parenthood has always impressed me when it comes to tackling complex subjects, so I’ll be interested to see where they go with this transracial adoption.
ICYMI! Casting Calls: So, Angela Bassett’s Fall FOX drama didn’t get picked up, but with NBC developing a legal drama for her she still comes out on top. Also on NBC, Jay Pharoah will replace Fred Armesin in playing President Obama on Saturday Night Live for season 38. Given the high profile nature of the 2012 election, this is a huge deal for Pharoah and I couldn’t be happier for him.
Over on ABC, Live With Kelly is now Live With Kelly and Michael as of last week, when former NFL star Michael Strahan was hired as Regis Philbin’s permanent replacement.
Finally, on ABC primetime Sinqua Walls and Jamie Chung join the cast of Once Upon a Time as Sir Lancelot and Mulan, respectively.