Category Archives: tv

The Apprentice Meets Scarface: The Racialicious Review of 50 Cent: The Money And The Power

by Special Correspondent Arturo R. García

So who’s 50 Cent gonna start with beef next?

Maybe Donald Trump, if you believe the hype behind Fiddy’s new “Apprentice”-style show, 50 Cent: The Money And The Power.

The show’s blog crows that “unlike The Donald, Fiddy’s new show will NOT be putting the ‘Bored’ in ‘Boardroom.’” What it may lack in feigned decorum, The Money And The Power more than makes up for in people uttering variations of the phrase, “I’d do anything for $100,000.”

In the premiere, Fiddy and minion crony hanger-on Dwight Schrute substitute labelmate Tony Yayo appear a little more hands-on than Trump, and more menacing than Diddy, sprinkling their monologues with criminal references. Yayo is identified as the show’s “Underboss,” and the premise is simple: “I’m not looking for an assistant,” Fiddy explains to the 14 contestants. What he is looking for, he says, is someone who can take his 100 grand and “make something out of nothing.” Naturally, their first mission is to get shot, then produce a critically-panned autobiographical movie.

Just kidding. Instead, after choosing the terminally smiley Joanne and the braided Ryan as “Bosses” for the first week, the two seven-member teams make their way from Roosevelt Island to “Camp Curtis,” the show’s compound in Brooklyn, bound together chain-gang style. And just like that, all these people formerly willing to “do anything” start complaining.

It doesn’t take long for tensions to rise. Not only do two members of Ryan’s team nearly come to blows during the mission (they manage to win regardless, earning themselves dinner with Fiddy), but two members of Joanne’s team get into it. And this is where we meet Precious.

Not to doubt the integrity of anyone who describes herself as a “master manipulator,” but the beauty school dropout landed herself on the brink of elimination by telling an Asian teammate to “go do [her] nails.” In the real world, businessman Curtis Jackson might have dismissed someone making these remarks on the spot. But, on reality television, host 50 Cent, shrewdly determining that racist remarks equal “good television,” keeps Precious (who he describes as “a poor man’s Lil’ Kim”) on the show, not before getting literally inches from her face and delivering an Alpha Dog staredown that would’ve made Tony Montana proud. Instead, for being a “wack” leader, Joanne is dispatched with a heartfelt “Get the f-ck outta here.” One can only expect ensuing episodes to showcase just as much workplace sensitivity.

For being what it is, The Money isn’t not entertaining, in the usual brain-on-neutral way these shows have become. It’s all there: the artificially-built tension; the utterly unsympathetic contestants; the Mr. Miyagi-esque team missions. And it’s funny watching Fiddy and Yayo give their Sun Tzu-meets-F-U pep talks to this latest bunch of schmucks. But it’s not edgy, it’s not “street,” it’s not new in the least, unless you’re just now old enough to watch television without parental supervision, or an unabashed Fiddy fanboy or fangirl. The premiere was titled “Choose Your Crew Wisely,” but really, the lesson was Know Your Demographic. And Fiddy shows business sense there, indeed.

Hiro Takes A Trip: The Racialicious Review of Heroes 3.8

by Special Correspondent Arturo R. García, also posted at The Instant Callback

This week’s episode, “Villains,” was chock-full of … well, it was supposed to be meaningful information. Through the portal of Hiro’s “spirit walk” through Flashback Town, we learned that:

Mister Petrelli is and has been the Big Bad: Not only was Arthur in league with Linderman as part of the original group of Heroes, but apparently Linderman was little more than a crony for Mr. P. It was Arthur who masterminded the attempt on Nathan’s second wife’s life in Season 1; it was Arthur who pushed for the destruction of New York City that same year; and it was Arthur who apparently created the take-no-prisoners persona we’ve seen in Angela, as he mentally subjugated her until she was freed by Linderman.

Elle and Sylar weren’t always crazy: Despite being established as batsh-t crazy over the course of the series, this episode we were taught that really, both were well-meaning kids before each was undone, Gabriel by “The Hunger,” and a misguided crush on her, and Elle by the realization that Primatech was bad people. Continue reading

The Racialicious Roundtable for Heroes 3.7

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

Open Thread: TV Shows

by Latoya Peterson

Okay, so aside from Heroes, who else wants to talk about something on TV?

Trueblood has been killing me for the last two weeks, with the evolution of Tara, Tara’s mom showing out – both under the influence AND sober – Jason’s infatuation with that fake holistic sociopath, Bill heading to trial, and the newest revelation about Sam has my head spinning. Thank heavens for Lafayette’s comic relief.

The Simpsons just did a sketch about the Great Pumpkin being a racist.

The second episode of D. L. Hughley Breaks the News was less entertaining than the first episode.

And for some reason, I want to blog about Entourage, but I haven’t been watching long enough to pick up many racial themes – just gender and heterosexism. There appears to be something with the stereotypes applied to Ari’s assistant, Lloyd, and Lloyd’s wishes for promotion, but I don’t think I have enough background info to make a call.

So, now, I’m opening the floor – what caught your eye on TV lately?

Not Ready For Prime Time: The Racialicious Review of Chocolate News

By Special Correspondent Arturo R. García, also posted at The Instant Callback

In mining the Daily Show and Colbert Report styles for new material, David Alan Grier is, unfortunately for him, showing his age more than his experience with Chocolate News.

Credit is due DAG, of course, for even having his own show right now: his nearly 30-year career spans stage, film, stand-up, sitcoms and, of course, sketch comedy. The problem is, instead of showcasing his range, he’s relying on the same tropes and mannerisms that characterized his work on the dearly departed In Living Color. “Girth Of A Nation”? That’s the ILC Black History sketches, retreaded more than remixed for this new generation of fans.

The show’s other “reports” suffer from the same lack of relevancy. “Wigga Rehab”? John McCain’s “Cleaner”? “Fat Black Mama Syndrome”? To borrow a phrase, Hated It! This stuff is more played out than the 3 Snaps Up, and shows a serious lack of juice. Dave Chappelle would have been able to put Tyler Perry into the FBM sketch. Continue reading

It’s Latin For “Meh”: The Racialicious Review of Heroes 3.7

by Guest Contributor Arturo R. García, also posted at The Instant Callback

Warning: Spoilers Ahead!

Heroes is, at its heart, a family drama that deals with two main families in particular, the Bennet family and the Petrelli family.”

— Series creator Tim Kring, as quoted in Entertainment Weekly.

“Eris Quod Sum,” the series’ first episode since that unfortunate statement by Kring was published, inched things along for members of both families, but really, the episode just moved sideways. Is the show banking on another big finale to save its season? How are we to feel about the series’ other Heroes? More on that later.

This week’s best development was the prospect of a double-cross contest between the increasingly “good” Sylar/Gabriel and Mr. Petrelli. While breaking the de-powered Peter out of the Pinehearst facility at the urging of their mother, Gabe is detained by Arthur for a father-long-lost-son heart-to-heart, during which, we’re told, he revealed Mrs. Petrelli’s Deep Dark Secret.

When Peter later urges his new bro to “just kick his ass,” however, Sylar demurs, standing right by Papa P. and hurling Pete out of a seventh-story window. How does the mundane Peter stay alive? Looks like Sylar protected him, freeing his brother while he went undercover with Team Pinehearst. Hopefully this leads to a Lionel/Lex Luthor-like duel of wills between the newest Petrelli and the oldest. Hell, the show’s cribbed enough from the X-Men; why not throw some Smallville in? And can we get a side order of Buffy with that? What’s Principal Wood up to these days? Continue reading

D.L. Hughley Headlines a New Political Comedy Show on CNN

by Latoya Peterson

Please Note: This is NOT a D.L. Hughley fansite. You cannot contact him directly through this site, or leave feedback about his show.

Before I sat down to watch D. L. Hughley Breaks the News, I was skeptical of the whole project. D.L. Hughley doesn’t immediately come to mind when I think of a comedian that is well versed in politics and current events. The author of the NY Times article seems to concur, noting:

For the last week Mr. Hughley, 45, has had to arrive every morning at his office at CNN in Manhattan at the ungodly (for a comedian) hour of 11 a.m. to digest reams of information from newspapers, Web sites, television and talk radio. He has no time to goof off during the 8-to-12-hour days; only the occasional moment to glance at his new profile in the CNN company directory that lists him as an anchor.

“I’m like, ‘Come on, man,’ ” an incredulous Mr. Hughley said in a recent interview. “I barely even know how to read. I’ve got a G.E.D.”

Just 10 days ago CNN announced that Mr. Hughley would be the host of a new comedy-news show, “D. L. Hughley Breaks the News,” which has its premiere Saturday at 10 p.m. Eastern time.

AverageBro already laid down his thoughts on the show, writing:

I’m not saying Hughley isn’t funny. His early days of Comic View were classic. And for the record, his standup career is far more successful than anything Stewart did pre-Daily Show.

But DL just doesn’t seem to have the gravitas to pull this off. His shortlived Comedy Central talk show, Weekends At The DL, was atrocious. His appearances on shows like Real Time With Bill Maher and The Glenn Beck Show don’t give me the impression that this cat is extremely knowledgeable when it comes to politricks.

He also brings up another large elephant in the room when it comes to D.L. Hughley’s idea of comedy:

Is it wrong for me to still be upset about that “nappy headed hoes” comment more than a year after the fact? Prolly not, but I’m sorry, I just cannot get over that. That sh*t was a straight up James T. Harris b*tch move in my book.

I wonder how dude could go home and look his wife and daughter in the eyes after that bullsh*t.

I prolly won’t watch this show, so I guess I shouldn’t bash it. Could it possibly be any worse than Chocolate News or The Tony Rock Project? Even though I wished CNN’s affirmative action hire had been Roland Martin instead, I guess I should just be happy to see black men working, no matter how mediocre the product.

Nah. Bump that.

If you wanna support a black man on TeeVee, peep BET’s slept on Somebodies. Now that’s comedy.

Screw DL Hughley. A true Nappy Headed Hoe!

Continue reading

The Racialicious Roundtable for Heroes 3.6

Hosted by Arturo R. García

This week, Heroes gave your humble panelists one of the choicest lines to work with in a stunningly out-of-character remark by Ando. Before we see what they have to say, though, let’s do the roll call. Roundtable – Assemble!

Hexy!
Mahsino!
Erica!

Let’s go!

What the hell was with Ando’s “They all look alike to me”? Bad joke by him, or really bad joke by the writers?

Hexy: I found it really off putting. It actually jarred me out of what was otherwise an enjoyable Hiro and Ando scene. I thought it out of character for Ando… but then again, season one’s obsessive interaction with Niki showed that he’s less than evolved when it comes to his views on people-who-aren’t-of-his-gender, so maybe it wasn’t so out of character for him to have off views on people-who-aren’t-of-his-race. Either way, it seemed like a clunky line shoe-horned into an inappropriate racial frame.

Speaking of Hiro and Ando, while I was glad to see that Ando isn’t dead, I think they squandered the “Hiro did something you didn’t see!” card. I was expecting it, but I was hoping it would be used to show that Hiro hasn’t actually been a useless git all season, not just in the preceding episode.

Mahsino: Although I initially was amused by this joke (before realizing I’d heard it before in tv and movies), I have to say I’m really conflicted about it in a way that wouldn’t really make sense to delve too deeply in to. At most I can say, the whole Hiro/Ando storyline is starting to seem like a 21st century Kato, but instead of martial arts, they have humor. It’s getting kind of old and the writers are going to have to bring a lot more character development to those two before they have the right to inject them with dry, racially themed, humor- those are the kind of jokes you need context and character reference for- 2 things the writers haven’t deemed necessary to accessorize Hiro and Ando with.

On the flip side, I only had to pour out a little bit of cranberry juice for Ando since he came back- good thing because inflation is making juice expensive.

Erica: I think it was well intentioned, but not well executed. Here’s a tip for Ando (aka my guide to Heroes characters who are white with brown/black
hair): Matt (pudgy, carries a tortoise), Nathan (sleazy politician smile), Peter (Keanu Reeves), Sylar (big eyebrows), and Bennett (glasses). The tortoise is shaping up to be my favorite character this season…

Anyway, it was supposed to be funny but it ended up being one of those “um…” moments. Considering the overall sensitivity/diversity of Heroes, that fits; they seem to be trying, but are far from perfect (which gives us plenty of meat every week). Of course, at other times they don’t seem to be trying at all, so maybe I give them too much credit. Continue reading