Friday, November 5, 2010

Do African Americans belong on prime-time television?

I am so tired of writing race-related blog posts, but the news of NBC cancelling Boris Kodjoe's show "Undercovers" has sparked yet another fuse. I'll be the first to admit that I have never watched the aforementioned television program, but I now wish I did. I personally don't have time to watch television because I work full-time and attend school in the evening. More than likely, you didn't tune in either. What's your excuse?

"Undercovers" was refreshing to hear about. The show, led by not one, but TWO African American actors, was a good look for African Americans as a whole. The actors played positive roles as undercover agents as opposed to the typical roles given to actors in this particular ethnic group. Regardless, people did not tune in. I can't blame the public relations staff at NBC either because the show initially had great buzz. I heard about it via the radio, internet and I'm sure it had plenty of television promotion. I wonder why people failed to tune in. Is it because African Americans don't belong on prime-time television?

I ask this question while considering many other television shows with African American casts that have been cancelled. For example, "The Game" which was picked up by BET so luckily it will live to see another day. Also, "Everybody Hates Chris" and "Girlfriends" are among the other shows that viewers no longer have the option to view on major networks. The shows usually get shifted to air on an inconvenient day (Friday evening) and then cancelled soon after. Is it the time that these shows air that make it nearly impossible for viewers to tune in or are we simply uninterested in seeing minorities on prime-time television? If it's not "The Real Housewives of Atlanta" or "The Basketball Wives," are we not amused? Would we rather watch Ray J find love or Lala and Carmelo Anthony get married? This is not to say that there is anything wrong with reality television, but has it become the major source for African American entertainment? Sitcoms are definitely not filled with people that look similar to me and I wonder why. Casts are rarely diverse and that seems to be suitable for many people. I read this article about the cancellation of "Undercovers" and what may have led to it. I think that the writer makes some great points. Production costs may have been too expensive for the show, but there is definitely more to it. What can networks do to get viewers to tune in to these shows? In the event that African American actors get an opportunity to lead another prime-time television show anytime soon, what do you think can be done to prevent such prompt cancellation?
Thanks for reading. Be sure to post your thoughts.

Alexandria B.