This is a new comedy series from ABC focusing on the day to day adventures of a Taiwanese family trying to get comfortable in their new home in Orlando, Florida. It's based on a true story - the memoirs of renowned chef Eddie Huang as a young Asian-American boy in the 90's. The show offers an entertaining yet important play on how Asian culture is taking place in America. It's not just about the culture itself, but it's also how it interacts and clashes with others. It's very bold of the writers to address many misconceptions and stereotypes about the Asian culture and incorporate them into the screenplay in a light-hearted, comedic setting.
This relatively new crime-drama series is taking the world by storm with such positive feedback and high ratings. The best part? It's got a great story paired with a potential to be one of the pioneering TV programs in diversifying television through racial representation. Viola Davis flawlessly portrays such a powerful main character - Annalise Keating, a law school professor and criminal defense attorney. The actress expressed her opinion on this so called breakthrough for African-Americans in the television industry, saying that black actresses are still being marginalized, and her achievement in such a dynamic female lead role is very rare. Not only is the main character a woman of color but the rest of the cast as well includes Hispanic and Asian actors. Hopefully, with this very diversified cast and the show's ongoing success, media would be even more inspired to embrace multicultural perspectives and get rid of racial biases.
This Netflix-born comedy-drama series focuses on Piper Chapman's encounters with fellow female inmates. The show is being praised for its excellent portrayal of gender and racial issues taking place in modern society. The interaction of black, white and Hispanic culture taking place in the story's setting is a great place to address the cultural differences and harsh double standards (i.e. white privilege) that oppress the marginalized. Different dimensions of the lives of black, white and Hispanic women alike are being represented - evidently seen in Sophia's struggles with her complicated family life as a transsexual parent, Maria's pregnancy and motherhood while being inside the instution, Poussey and Taystee satirically speaking like their "white counterparts", Vee's manipulative villain archetype, and many more.
Black-ish is a situational comedy focusing on a black upper middle class family. It's actually getting mixed reception from viewers as it is often associated with past programs of its kind. The average African-American family sitcom seemed to be a staple in television in the 80's and 90's, the era of The Cosby Show and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. It definitely represents the modern black family living in suburban Los Angeles, and already opens so many gateways to discussion of race in just the pilot episode itself - when Andre Jr. opted for field hockey instead of basketball as his sport of choice, expressed his intentions to have a bar mitzvah for his 13th birthday, and Andre Sr.'s promotion as senior VP in his company's department. (easily misread and conveniently named the "Urban" department) The show is funny and has potential, but some people think they should show more, especially during a time of rampant black violence and ever-reigning white privilege.
Empire was one of the phenomenal shows that contributed to the increasing racial representation on American Television. It captures the life of Lucious Lyon, a hip-hop giant and CEO of one of the biggest music labels, who is diagnosed with ALS and must pit his sons against each other to make one of them emerge as deserving as his heir. Of course, he musn't forget his ex-wife who was just released from her seventeen year incarceration, a fall she took for him to continue their dream of becoming music gods. Although the show can be quite cliche, and even forget to tie up important subplots, Empire continues to draw the audience in with realistic portrayals of the origin of hip-hop, the struggles of African-Americans, nevertheless of wealthy they are (as seen in Andre's confrontation with Lucious), and the original songs they create, some sending a message of hope and determination for anyone who was undermined because of their differences. And with Cookie Lyon.
Gina Rodriguez stars in Jane The Virgin, a comedy-drama series about a religious young Latina woman living in Miami. It's basely loosed on the Venezuelan telenovela, Juana la Virgen. The show represents Latino culture working within American culture, and at the same time, breaks many stereotypes thrown at their ethnicity. With the main character being an ambitious, career-driven Latina woman like Jane, the show destroys the gender stereotype that a woman can't be a mother and still succeed in her chosen career path. Playing the bubbly Latina protagonist, Rodriguez expresses that she thinks the show is fueled by the talent, and the focus on Latino culture is merely a bonus. As the first Latina on the CW network as a lead in a show, she dedicates her performance to all those who rarely get to see themselves as the hero in popular culture.
Representation is very important in our society now more than ever, and it's very convenient that many networks are opening their minds and blessing us with multicultural TV shows to binge watch when the working day is done. People being able to see different races as the heroes in different situations, especially in such an influential outlet like television, just might take this modern society one step closer to fully embracing diversity in all aspects of life.
- Nikki Alarilla
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