By Guest Contributor Kendra James (Originally posted on April 9, 2012) Lena Dunham (third from…
By Kendra James
I watched the season premiere of Girls last week deciding that–after a good hour or so of snark directed in Dunham’s direction on Twitter– I’d pretend I didn’t know any of the drama swirling around the show. Why? Well, I only made it four episodes into Season One of Girls, less because of my offended sensibilities and more because I was just bored. The show bored me–and before you say anything, my addiction to Showtime and FX hour-longs proves that I’m capable of enjoying TV without vampires, werewolves, and witches, okay?
Anyway, I was bored with last season but I was willing to make a concession: given how I felt about the show’s…well, everything…was I really going to judge it fairly? Probably not. So Season 2 was going to get the benefit of the doubt.
And the first two episodes have!
But, Joe, I’m still bored.
Read the Post Black People Review Girls (2.2): Dear Joe, Nothing Happened
By Joseph Lamour
Did you have a good weekend? I hope you did. Mine was pretty great: friends, karaoke, laughter, moderately priced alcohol, and other 20-something stereotypes…Instagramming, there was definitely a lot Instagramming. So… Is it as foggy in New York as it is in Washington, DC right now? Because I’m feeling a little like I’m trapped in that Lana Del Rey video. Anyway…
I just wanted to break the ice before our season-long foray into talking at length about Lena Dunham’s Girls. I know, Kendra: the idea of Lena and Lena’s television program and requiring you to watch Lena and Lena’s television program for the site is a less than thrilling idea for a lot of people…and even less than less for entertainment writers like us who are attuned to TV stereotypes and diversity shortages. None of us were thrilled about the whole debacle last year. There was quite an article about it on the site, as you know—you wrote it, after all.
So, Kendra, I’ve watched the first episode of Season 2 already. I’ll let you know what I’m thinking, and I’ll wait for a reply with your own thoughts. We’ll be kind of like pen pals who are super-focused on talking about something neither is particularly fond of. Kidding, of course… sort of.
To the topic at hand!
Plot spoilers below the cut. You’ve been warned…
By Arturo R. García, Kendra James, and Joseph Lamour
2013 Oscar Nominations: Nine-year-old Quvenzhané Wallis made history Thursday when she became the youngest actress ever nominated for the Oscar for Best Actress–part of the somewhat surprising nomination haul for Beasts Of The Southern Wild, which is also up for Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay (director Benh Zeitlin and Lucy Alibar), as well as a Best Director nod for Zeitlin.
The only other PoC up for major awards, however, are Life of Pi director Ang Lee (Best Director) and Denzel Washington, who earned his fourth Best Actor nomination for Flight. Jamie Foxx, Samuel L. Jackson, and Kerry Washington were all passed over for their turns in Django Unchained, as was director Quentin Tarantino. (The year’s other prestige slavery film, Lincoln, gathered 12 nominations, most overall.)
The Black Comic Book Festival: The Black Comic Book Festival will take place this Saturday, January 12, from 10am-4pm at the Schomburg Center (NYPL) in Harlem. It is, of course, happening a mere 15 blocks from my home…while I have to be at work. I won’t be able to go, but if you enjoy any of the reporting Arturo occasionally does on comics here at the R and yearn for inclusiveness at larger cons like NYCC and SDCC, this may be an event for you.
Read the Post The Racialicious Entertainment Roundup 1.6-11.13
By Managing Editor Arturo R. García and Guest Contributor Kendra James
Issa Rae: Well, this is how web television supporters say it’s supposed to work. Now, can Rae and Shonda Rhimes deliver?
Earlier this week, Rhimes, the showrunner behind Scandal and Grey’s Academy, sold a sitcom to ABC reportedly titled I Hate LA Dudes. On the surface, it doesn’t sound that different in tone from Rae’s acclaimed (if occasionally problematic) Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl.
But in going from the wilds of YouTube to Pharrell Wiliams’ i am OTHER channel and now to serving as co-executive producer and writer on a broadcast television show, Rae becomes the first notable web creator to complete the circuit. This brings pressure on multiple fronts: not only does she become, for better or worse, a test run for creators and executives looking to see how her style and fanbase translate to a “mainstream” stage, but you have to figure no small percentage of ABG fans will seek reassurance that the comedy that drew them to that show survives the migration.
On the other hand, with Rae making the airwaves not long after Mindy Kaling’s own ascension, we also have to ask ourselves: how much does progress need to be progressive? —AG
By Guest Contributor Jen Wang, cross-posted from Disgrasian
I’ve heard this argument in discussions about the lack of diversity on HBO’s Girls and I’m hearing it again now with ABC Family’s Bunheads. The argument is: If you’re criticizing this show, which is for, by, and about girls/women, you’re misogynist.
This week, Bunheads creator Amy Sherman-Palladino, of Gilmore Girls fame, responded to criticism made by Grey’s Anatomy creator Shonda Rhimes about the lack of diversity on Sherman-Palladino’s new series about ballerinas with this exact argument:
“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 Aymar Jean Christian, cross-posted from Televisual
So, HBO has a problem with Girls. Mainly, that a lot of smart people are really pissed the show is so white! And they’re right. I’ve refrained from writing extensively about this because (a) so many other people (links above!) are doing it well, (b) I think the show is smart, and (c) I agree with Seitz: race is the industry’s problem, not Lena Dunham’s. She is privileged, yes, but–let’s be honest–also got lucky with a sweetheart Louie-like deal: cheap production and relative freedom in lieu of high ratings (Girls‘s paltry 0.4 rating in the demo would get it canceled everywhere but HBO, and maybe FX**).
In the spirit of shifting blame back on the industry and being constructive, I’ve decided to link to some web shows mainstream TV critics might not know about because there are so many.
The Girls imbroglio, which was easy to see coming but surprised and heartened me in its scale, has shone a light on the ugly side of Hollywood most people forget about. Mainly, that mostly everyone is white, and most people in power are male. Alyssa Rosenberg has done a really great job highlighting this in the past week (see: her posts on women of color already writing for TV and her stats on their employment).
There’s been some discussion about how the Internet figures into all of this, with a number of people mentioning Awkward Black Girl, hugely popular and shopped to networks only to stay online (following The Guild, that might be a good call for Rae). Latoya Peterson linked to my black, gay and latino web series pages–links at the top–in her great critique of Girls.
I thought I’d make it easy, and, in the spirit of “put up or shut up,” spotlight a few shows, past and present, which could use an FX-style pick-up. A lot of these shows would be cheap to do but could benefit from the little bit of low-risk cash TV networks can deliver (I’ve highlighted shows by men and women, because the problem isn’t just with female-led shows on TV, far from it).
As always, this is the tip of very large iceberg. Please put other suggestions in the comments!