I was flipping channels, and I started to notice a pattern.
In sitcom 1, we have a white cast. There are a couple minority folks on the peripherals that serve mainly as ‘token’ minorities in a failed attempt to ‘legitimize’ the show. Oh, Shoving Buddies isn’t racist or privileged, we have Joe Black the butler, remember? And that’s the problem. The minorities exist to serve the white cast or to be caricatures playing up the negative stereotypes of the race.
In sitcom 2, we have a cast made up of minorities of a particular type. There are a couple whites and other minorities around on the peripherals…and they are treated the exact same way the token minorities on the first sitcom are treated. They exist to be caricatures playing up the negative stereotypes of their races so the main cast can mock them or play off them.
In sitcom 3, we have a mainly male cast and it is considered a ‘male’ show. Therefore the females in it are either sex objects or bitchy women that exist as caricatures playing up the negative stereotypes of their gender for the male cast to react to.
In sitcom 4, we have a mainly female cast and it is considered a ‘female’ show. Therefore the males in it are sexual harassers or games to be played that exist as caricatures playing up the negative stereotypes of their gender for the female cast to react to.
The problem exists in some dramas as well, but on the whole, the more successful dramas avoid blatant displays of the above. For sitcoms though, the display is often the entire point of the show.
We acknowledge the white/male shows as racist/sexist and call it examples of privilege. And it is, and it’s one of the major reasons I don’t watch ‘popular’ sitcoms. I don’t like it when the joke is someone’s race/gender.
And that’s why I don’t watch the minority sitcoms either. I don’t like it when the joke is someone’s race/gender.
I would love to see a sitcom that actually displayed equality. A mixed cast, male female white minority. I want equality. I don’t want revenge. Let’s raise the bar, shall we? It’s a hell of a lot better than sinking to the level of the birth of a nation.
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