Hosted by Special Correspondent Arturo R. García
The ratings are down between 20 and 50 percent depending on who you ask. Entertainment Weekly has declared it “a series in crisis.” Even mild-mannered Yahoo has declared it has “jumped the shark,” forcing the typically fawning comic-book press to come to its defense. Clearly, Heroes has reached a turning point – or maybe the end of its’ rope? As the series moves into a new, decidedly soap-influenced direction, our roundtable convenes to focus on some troubling statements attributed to series creator Tim Kring over the past week.
In that EW cover story, Kring said the show is “at its heart, a family drama that deals with two main families in particular, the Bennet family and the Petrelli family.” What does Kring’s banking on these two clans say to you about his investment – and ours – in characters like Hiro, Suresh, Parkman, et al?
Hexy: Well, it says he doesn’t give a crap about them. But you know who I’m MORE pissed on behalf of? The Hawkins/Sanders. There we had another family being set up with its own internal dynamic and personal struggles, and this season we find out that (like the Petrellis) it has unexpected extra branches. Hell, it’s even got blondes, which seems to be a pre-requisite for getting any of the writers of this show to pay attention to your gene pool, and I distinctly remember a shocking promise of storylines to come when Linderman revealed that he’d somehow orchestrated the existence of that family unit.
But no. The mixed-race family containing the only sex working character we’ve yet seen doesn’t get to be part of the “family drama” side of Heroes, unless you count watching Micah pout at his newfound Aunt for thirty seconds before she runs off to spend time with the families that REALLY matter.
Mahsino: In the EW article, I will admit I learned something new: the new “P.C.” euphemism for Magical Negro is now “Noble Black Man”. I’d say that Kring’s analysis of the main characters in the show is very indicative of the sense of what I like to call the white default. Usually in the media, (this even includes books with the exception of Neil Gaiman’s Anansi Boys) the main characters tend to be white. Every other character is defined by their ethnicity and is usually in the background. What partially drew me to Heroes was that, in the beginning, there was no visible white default- sure there was Peter, but he was getting equal airtime as Hiro. The fact that Mohinder was a constant presence in the show impressed me. But now, it’s becoming increasingly clear to me that this show is going the way of Grey’s Anatomy — another show that began with a great sense of diversity that faded its characters of color into the background.
Erica: The term “family drama” typically means “family friendly,” and Heroes is really anything but family-friendly. It’s violent, dark, and scary. If it simply means, “drama about families”, then that’s just horribly boring. I thought we were watching to see people with mutant powers, not people who hug and cry and throw their brothers out of windows. (And from Racialicious commenters’ reaction to the latest recap, it’s clear that very few people liked
that quote!) Anyway.
I’m disappointed to see Kring’s lack of interest in his extended cast, and my hope for a resurgence of diversity (and interesting new stories) is swiftly dying. The quote confirms that other characters are just a support system for the Bennet and Petrelli families. No wonder many of them seem to be given far less time than their potentially interesting stories deserve. Given the breadth of characters we saw in Season One (remember those days, when the show didn’t suck much?) and the potential for variety, I don’t understand WHY. There’s not much suspense in showing Mama and Papa Petrelli fight for the love (or hatred) of their sons. Concentrating on their dysfunction is simply going to continue pissing off the fanbase, particularly people who are only casually interested — people who make up the bulk of the ratings.
(Am I the only one who’s surprised that the deep, life-changing secrets that Angela and Arthur like to throw at the boys are actually all true? Any self-respecting family drama would realize that either one would lie about anything to get the Petrelli Boys on his or her side.)
Clara: I started thinking of the two families as the Shiney Blondes and the Sparkly Dark-Brunettes this episode, because there really seems to be a hair-color coding system going on with the Bennets and Petrellis. (Yes, Noah does not have blonde hair, I know. But his hair color is pretty light compared to the Petrelli shade of brown.)
I am bothered by Kring’s statement because he ignores all the other family dramas present in Heroes, especially since there are so many to choose from. What about Hiro and his dad, Kaito? Kaito was one of the Company founders. He’s also supposed to be dead. Why can’t he come back to life all evil and stuff too, like Arthur Petrelli? And what about Mohinder and his daddy issues? Can’t Chandra Suresh have another secret and come back to life as well? How about, Chandra was actually the original author of the power-giving formula and somehow gave himself the ability to fake his death and bounce back two seasons later?
Basically, it’s like Kring is saying only the good looking white families matter in this show. And considering the fame Heroes has gotten for its multicultural cast, that’s pretty terrible. I’m betting the writers finally got overwhelmed by all the characters and decided to concentrate only the Blonde Bennets and the Brunette Petrellis. “Too many personalities. Just focus on the pretty ones!” It’s a shame that the other families don’t get this type of treatment. Continue reading