For good reason.
There’s debate that such shows do little to advance the positive Black female image. As Black millennials are making strides in an interconnected and globalizing world, how we are portrayed in shows with cross cultural appeal is one of note.
We all know the badass Olivia Pope, a White House communications expert turned power-playing crisis manager, and her complicated affair with President Fitzgerald Grant. We love her outfits and her work ethic, just as much as we love to hate the steamy sex scenes between her and the President.
BET’s Being Mary Jane received sizable backlash from the Black community. From what I’ve hard, Mary Jane is having an affair with a married man. I have yet to watch the show, but even from the get-go, I wasn’t particularly interested in it. (Even at this minute, I have no idea what the basic premise is.) Ironically, we were harder on Gabrielle Union than we were on Kerry Washington. The jury’s still out on how the series will do, but if the comments I’ve read prevail, Gabby may not make it to Season 2. I’m rooting for her though!
And there’s LHH, the detritus of Black reality television that’s very easy to get addicted to. However, it’s the brainchild of Black business woman, Mona Scott-Young, a boss in her own right with years (if not decades?) of experience in the music industry.
Real Housewives of Atlanta and Basketball Wives also join the ranks of silly reality shows that are utterly pointless, but shamefully addicting.
The fact of the matter is…. we like and support these programs for one reason or another. From political bosses to ratchet delusion, we tune in to these shows and ultimately cripple the positive Black narrative.
Some claim that it’s time to move on from this discussion… there are some shows that simply exist for entertainment’s sake. But this thought is flawed. Media intrinsically has an agenda. The history of media is embedded in propaganda and message-spreading. With every article you read, show you watch, or YouTube channel you subscribe to, there is a motive behind its creators. What that motive is what we need to figure out, but to deny that there is a motive at all is foolish.
So we’re left with the fact that directors, producers, writers, and executives mean to advance an agenda when they green light projects and hire the cast to play up a certain image. Shonda Rhimes created a political drama to fill a vacuum on the lagging ABC; BET wanted a series to rival Scandal, and Mona wanted to expose the realities of sex and love in hip hop culture. Okay, cool.
But what’s next? Do we boycott these shows and put these hardworking actresses out of work? Do we continue to watch these shows and further demoralize Black women? Do we pander to other racial groups and insist that they don’t turn these fictions into cultural realities?
I don’t have the answers to these questions, but they are questions I’m thinking about. I support Kerry, Gabby, and Mona because they are breaking boundaries. They’re working within the confines of a system meant to marginalize and oppress, and are slowly chipping away at the systemic shackles.
To me, supporting my fellow Black vanguards outweighs dubious social ramifications. I do so in reasonable doses; I’m an avid Scandal fan because it offers more than just a sexy Black mistress. The acting is extraordinary, the monologues are crisp, and the experience is worth it. I haven’t dove in to BMJ yet, but I’ll give it a try because I’m a Gabby fan that wants to see her win. And LHH, I check in once in awhile but refuse to avidly follow the story lines.
Such is the dilemma and solution for a socially conscious Black millennial.