Spoiler Alert: If you didn’t watch last week’s episode of Scandal, do not read any further.
While Shonda Rhime’s “Scandal” has become a reliable source of Twitter water-cooler talk every Thursday night, last week’s episode especially touched a nerve, after this scene between our protagonist, high-powered problem-solver Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) and President Fitzgerald Grant (Tony Goldwyn):
“I’m feeling a little Sally Hemings-Thomas Jefferson about all this,” Olivia told Fitz, who looked about as stunned as many shows reacted online.
So what to make of this in a broader context? As the season finale approaches Thursday, Guest Contributors T.F. Charlton and Arrianna Conerly Coleman weigh in on this special Roundtable. Continue reading →
“I’ve always felt that women, in a general sense, have never supported other women the way they should…I think it’s a shame, but to me, it is what it is.”
Sherman-Palladino, who says she has never met Rhimes before, went on to say that with the increased demands on showrunners–particularly while getting a new program on the air–there’s no room for criticism among peers. “I wouldn’t do it. I wouldn’t go after another woman. I, frankly, wouldn’t go after another showrunner,” she said.
Showrunner-to-showrunner professional courtesies aside–think how awkward running into each other in the ladies’ room at the Emmys will be!–Sherman-Palladino’s assessment of the situation, not to mention her assertion of victimhood, is utterly facile and self-serving.
By Guest Contributor Kendra James and Managing Editor Arturo R. García
Late Night With Jimmy Fallon: Say what you will about Fallon’s “Slow Jam The News” bit (to put it lightly, Fallon’s take on “soul” is no favorite of mine), but featuring President Barack Obama last week paid dividends for both men: Fallon taping the episode at the University of North Carolina provided Obama with a prime audience for his campaign pledge to reduce the financial aid burden and, according to The Washington Post, Obama might have attracted enough viewers to give Late Nightits best ratings in two years.
The final numbers for the show won’t be released until Thursday but, of course, the skit has already drawn the ire of conservatives, who will no doubt keep this video handy when it comes time to bust out the “Celebrity President” smack-talk as election season rolls on. (And hey, if presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney wants equal time with Fallon, I say go for it. After all, even Pat Boone released a metal album, right?)
From there, the President returned to the airwaves in a slightly more bipartisan setting, as he turned in another good showing at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, despite being “a 5 on the Just For Men scale.”–AG
30 Rock: In which Tina Fey continues to think that blackface is funny.
Everytime I go and attempt to give this show a second chance I find myself cringing on my couch. I’d given up after the first season–it just wasn’t my kind of humor, and let’s be frank: watching Tracy Morgan just makes me extremely uncomfortable, even if the character is supposed to be a joke. The first time I decided to give it another chance I was (un)lucky enough to tune in to the Black Swan episode. This time–a year and a half or so later–I tuned in because I like live television. For my troubles I received the live television… and Jon Hamm in blackface.
I chose to include this here rather than writing an article, because I’ve already said most of what I feel on the topic of white entertainers using black face for a cheap laugh. That said, it still needed to be mentioned. Whether intended to be satirical or not, whether it’s ‘full’ blackface or not, I don’t find it amusing. I don’t enjoy Tina Fey grabbing a cheap laugh from a historically degrading medium. I don’t understand why Fey felt the need to stick Jon Hamm in blackface multiple times during the live show last Thursday night. I don’t enjoy knowing that somewhere, someone is laughing at the bit without knowledge of the history behind the use of blackface in entertainment.
You don’t say the n-word, and you don’t black up. I don’t get why this is so difficult for white Hollywood to understand.–KJ
Girls: Great news for minority female twenty-somethings: HBO decided to renew Girls for a second season! This means that Lena Dunham gets the opportunity to fix her ‘completely accidental’ all-white casting and add in a WOC. We, too, can bathe in the water our roommate shaves in while eating a cupcake–unless this Black character has filled that promised quota slot that is. - KJ
Scandal: Kendra advised us to keep an eye on this show last month, and based on social-media activity, it looks like she was right; any given Thursday night, my Twitter feed is bursting with people following along. So, courtesy of Tambay at Shadow and Act, here’s a PSA: the show’s first season will be released on DVD on June 12th, presumably along with a Blu-Ray edition.
Tambay also points out that as of Tuesday morning, ABC still hasn’t renewed the show for a second season, but the numbers do seem to favor a return:
It’s telling that ABC hasn’t renewed it for another season yet; the numbers, which aren’t mindblowing, but, from all I’ve read, are steady: roughly 7 million viewers, taking the number 2 spot during that Thursday 10pm hour, behind CBS’ The Mentalist, with about 11.9 million. Compare that to Shonda Rhimes’ other ABC series, Grey’s Anatomy, which comes on the hour before Scandal, with 9.7 million viewers.
With three weeks to go until the season finale, Racializens, how do you feel? Should Kerry Washington and her crew come back?–AG
After Work It and Rob!, it’s fair to wonder if ABC’s upcoming show Devious Maids will continue the bad trend in depictions of Latin@s on network television. Nobody can say for sure, of course, until the show airs, but there are signs that are both encouraging … and not.
The core ensemble seems promising: Dania Ramírez (Heroes), Judy Reyes (Scrubs), Ana Ortiz (Ugly Betty) and Roselyn Sanchez (Without A Trace) are set to star, and Eva Longoria will serve as a co-producer with Desperate Housewives showrunner Marc Cherry; she’s also the executive producer for a fictionalized version of A Class Apart, a documentary chronicling Hernandez v. Texas, the 1954 Supreme Court case that expanded civil rights to Mexican-Americans.
I think most of the Latino community is proud that there’s a show employing four dynamic Latinas… and they’re the leads on a show. They’re not the guest stars, they’re not the co-star, they’re not sub characters. They are the leads of the show, and they are playing maids, which is a realistic reflection of our society today in America. When we get any sort of backlash like that–”Oh, they’re just playing the stereotypical maids”–my immediate response is, “So you’re telling me those stories aren’t worth telling. That those people are lesser than. That their stories aren’t worth exploring. That they have no complexity in their life because they’re a maid? And that’s what angers me. And especially within the Latino community, with people who have had their lives touched by nannys, housekeepers, gardeners, valet, whatever occupation we have occupied as Latinos. It’s a reality, so why not tell their story and their point of view?
That all sounds well and good, but there’s a few flaws in Longoria’s argument. As Lorenza Muñoz at Mamiverse points out, that includes Cherry’s involvement:
… considering it’s coming from the creator of “Desperate Housewives,” a soap opera rife with naughty characters and murderous plot twists, “Devious Maids” will likely just serve up fun romps rather than introspection.
“If the title is “Devious Maids,” then you have to go in as an audience realizing that it will be a very specific type of show and not one that is designed to enhance or uplift the Latino community,” said Ligiah Villalobos, a television and film writer, whose Hallmark Hall of Fame movie “Firelight” will air in April. “Most soap operas are not there to enlighten, they are there to entertain.”
Moreover, Longoria’s statement dodges one of the principal concerns regarding the Latina-as-maid stereotype: it’s not that domestic workers’ stories aren’t worth telling; it’s the fact that Latina actresses keep getting slotted in those roles. (It should be noted that Longoria didn’t offer much insight upon this on CNN’s Latino In America a few years back, either.)
Jezebel’s Dodai Stewart brought this to light in mentioning the case of veteran actress Lupe Ontiveros:
Ontiveros — who has a bachelor’s degree in social work and has played a maid 300 times on screen — also said: “I long to play a judge. I long to play a lesbian woman. I long to play a councilman, someone with some chutzpah.”
The problem is, very rarely are these kind of parts open to women with Latina backgrounds. Even Jennifer Lopez played a maid. And think of Teresa Yenque, who has been on seven different episodes of Law & Order: SVU, and played “Cleaning Lady,” “Housekeeper,” and “Housekeeper/Nanny.”
Finally, there’s the issue of Maids’ source material; the series is based on Ellas son … la alegría del hogar,(The Disorderly Maids Of The Neighborhood in English), a 2009 Mexican telenovela that lives up to Villalobos’ description, as the scenes below with Danny Perea (she’s the younger woman with long hair) show us:
A look at a trailer for alegría strains Longoria’s sentiment further:
For the non-Spanish speakers, here’s the skinny: our heroines work in the same neighborhood, navigating their personal and professional lives, until somebody disappears, a mysterious case of money appears, and it falls upon the ladies to crack the case. Oh, and there’s also a Nazi and a mute groundskeeper played by Alegría’s executive producer, Eugenio Derbez, most recently seen on Rob!
That sounds a bit like Desperate Housewives, doesn’t it? And while one can hope that Longoria will help Maids show us more nuanced portrayals of domestic workers and hire a diverse group of writers and directors, it’s also too early for her to be declaring this adaptation a source of pride.
Nobody said Sofía Vergara was sleeping with producers after Modern Family won a Golden Globe Sunday. Not with producers, anyway.
As you can see in the vid above, the joke starts around the 20-second mark, when Vergara, speaking Spanish, is mock-pulled by castmate Julie Bowen. At that point she announces that, because the Globes are an international award, her group’s acceptance speech for the Best Comedy/Musical Television Series would be done in Spanish and English. Which got laughs because, you know, Spanish. Or something. Continue reading →
Hola mi gente. Seems like a few of you felt uncomfortable with a line my character said on #Workit. I understand your feelings. The show is a comedy and is meant to be viewed in that context. Soy Boricua de pura sepa. I am proud of our culture and I’ve always strived to uphold the positive image of my beautiful island and our people in both my career and personal lives. Pa’lante mi gente. - Jan. 11 statement by Amaury Nolasco posted on WhoSay, as quoted on LatinoRebels
As his show Work It continued to get skewered by both activists and critics, Amaury Nolasco released the statement above in an attempt to defuse some of the tension.
To be sure, Nolasco’s in a tough spot, seeing as how he’s still under contract. But there’s no way not to consider the statement a missed opportunity. The best he could do here was to hide behind the “it’s a comedy” card, a tactic which is especially unhelpful when nobody’s laughing at any of the jokes – let alone the line, “I’m Puerto Rican. I’ll be great at selling drugs,” which he was forced to deliver in the premiere. Continue reading →
It’s not hard to imagine that, on some level, actor Amaury Nolasco knew his new show, Work It, would catch flack after his character, Angel, told his friend and fellow job-seeker Lee , “But I’m Puerto Rican. I’ll be great at selling drugs.”
If that was the case – and in the wake of the show’s disastrous premiere, Nolasco isn’t saying – then those instincts were right, and then some. Nolasco’s “drug dealers” joke is only the latest problem series creators Ted Cohen and Andrew Reich have brought upon themselves, and now their actors. Continue reading →
By Guest Contributors Amber Jones and Elizabeth Lowry
Episode Recap: Cameron writes a book entitled “Two Monkeys and a Panda” about Lily’s adoption (to dispel any possible stigma) and learns that Mitchell purposefully did not hyphenate Lily’s last name on the adoption papers. Jay and Gloria argue over where their remains will go once they have died. Phil spends the day at a spa while Claire tries to keep peace between her daughters over a shared sweater.
Liz: Ok Amber… a Panda? Really? I know Modern Family likes to make a joke of the ignorance of Cameron and Mitchell when it comes to their transnational adoption, but I had to roll my eyes.
Amber: Girl, I was rolling mine too. I cringe often when Cam and Mitchell talk about Lily. The writers do attempt to make a joke of the ignorance, but I think when it comes to Lily, it gets really hard for me to just laugh it off. For one, Cam and Mitchell seem to be completely OK with exoticizing Lily most of the time. What is that about? Modern Family is so interesting because even though it does show different familial structures, most of the characters are white and upper middle class. :-/
Liz: Yeah, I’m always amused that this show is called Modern Family, as if it’s the “new” family. I’m usually thinking, “whose family is that?” As far as the jokes, I find myself sometimes laughing at the ignorance (cuz the reality is there are ignorant parents) and sometimes cringing when the joke is played less as criticism and more as “awwww look how silly but really cute they are…she’s a panda!” Because you’re right, the jokes exoticize Lily.