Man oh man, television. Both the best and worst procrastination companion in my life. Between Netflix, Hulu+,
and all the bootleg tv shows and movies I definitely don’t ever steal, if I can’t find something to watch it’s because I am being extremely picky. With the amount of tv I consume, I’m rarely at a loss for what to watch. Especially because I will watch pretty much anything. Reality shows, sitcoms, crime/courtroom dramas, murder mysteries, cartoons, teen…shows (?? is that a genre ??), anything. I have no standards. Well that’s a lie, I have some standards. The show has to have at least one actor/actress/person I like and has to have at least one character I can relate too. I often settle for a show meeting only the first criterion because, I don’t know if you noticed, but it’s hard out here for characters of color. And by ‘hard’ I mean that there are like 4 of us. Okay that’s an understatement. And I’d be an asshole if I ignored the fact that POC are on an entertainment upswing. Especially the ladies. And don’t get me wrong, I love seeing more WOC on the silver screen. Wholeheartedly love it. But is it so much to ask for representation AND relatability? There are a whole host of shows with entirely (or predominantly) white casts of various income levels, occupations, familial dynamics, belief systems, etc. etc. and I’m left scrambling for secondary, underdeveloped characters who are challenged only by offensive stereotypes. And, okay, people of color are not always pushed aside and more of them, specifically women, are being written as lead roles, but I would be straight up lying if I said I could relate to an Indian OB/GYN or an African American DC based crisis manager. You know what I can relate to? A black chick in college who is trying to figure her life out and not murder every ignorant soul around her who thinks they’re qualified to speak on what is and is not racist in 2014.
And you might be thinking, but you’re in college!! You’re a twenty something!!! There are tons of shows about twenty somethings trying to figure their lives out. True. But there is not a single level on which I can connect with four insanely privileged white chicks who, despite living in FREAKING BROOKLYN, NY, never encounter any people of ANY KIND OF COLOR save for one black dude who was a throw away one night stand type of deal where the joke was that he was republican.
I don’t see me on tv. Well I do, but I also really and truly don’t. And before you
all zero people that read this blog comment “if you want a show about black girls make one!!”, just don’t. Because honestly, if I made the show would anyone even see it? Would the people that need to see the most, get to watch it? The answer is probably no. Because guess what? People don’t want to see black girls in college figuring stuff out and calling out ignorance. People like to see angry black women running DC, or hopelessly romantics trying to find love while balancing 4 deliveries in a week, or women from the projects constantly trying to get their child support, or men doling out helpful dating advice to their awkward white friends who don’t know how to function in bars and dance clubs. That’s what people like to see. It’s what they’re comfortable with. I’m comfortable with it too. After all, I watch tv every single day that solidifies these ideas. But I’m still annoyed. Because as they say, you can’t be what you can’t see. And the truth is, I don’t see me at all.