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.


  1. WHAT!
    I upset at that because I really like that show...grr...I only got to watch one episode though because I have such a hectic schedule...dang.

  2. I watched the show every Wednesday. I really enjoyed. It had it's flaws but it's all about ratings these days. It didn't have a good enough number to keep it on air. It's not a black or white thing. It's a ratings thing. 4 other predominantly 'white' shows were canceled this season before Undercovers.

    As for most 'black' shows in general, they just aren't good like they used to be. And as long as black people keep watching those dumb ass reality shows, this is how it's going to be. White shows invest in great writers. Black people are satisfied by living vicariously through someone else's life in a reality show.


  3. You could always check it out online or on hulu any time. I'm all for seeing more black actors in the lead for tv shows, but The Undercovers script sucked. I watched episode 1 & 2 and was bored.

  4. Yeah, So mad. I watched it. I figured I needed to tune it because they were a Black couple doing good. And I was pleasantly surprised because I liked it. This is why I don't support new shows. because they suck you in and then boom! Cancelled

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  6. I have to say, I think it's a combination of things that got this show cancelled. Race is definitely one of the factors, as having two Black characters be the leads (as opposed to peripheral characters in "diverse" productions like Grey's Anatomy, Glee, etc.) is still something brand new to 'mainstream' Hollywood. And some in 'mainstream' America still think that a show doesn't cater to them unless the lead characters look like them.

    I also think the scripts could have been stronger. I watched it to support, but I wished I liked the stories more than I did. To me, it had it's moments, but overall I was kind of "meh" about it.

    But everything in Hollywood is a crap-shoot. Sometimes, all the stars align & you get a hit. Other times, it seems like everything lined up perfectly, they get a whole lot of hype from the Hollywood machine, and the show will still fail (like the show Coupling that was supposed to be the super-amazing show they called 'The next "Friends."' Didn't even last a full season). Other shows may come out of nowhere, with little to no promotion, and people catch on and love it. (Kind of how Glee started out.)

    It sucks though because I really wish Undercovers would have worked. I liked it better than L&O LA, that's for sure!

  7. It wasn't about race, the show was *terrible*. You should have watched the show and you wouldn't even have had to write this.

    Not trying to sound mean, but being critical of something you didn't even research is kinda poor journalism.

    Seriously, I watched all of the episodes and I knew it was utterly ridiculous when they had two black people sneaking around undercover in North Korea.

    I thought it was going to be a cop show ( which was at least plausible) not a spy show.

    @ H & Brandon - Thanks for your input. Brandon makes very valid points and thanks for bringing up the fact that other "White" shows got cancelled. One point I'd like to make is that Caucasians have more images on television of people that are Caucasian regardless of what shows got cancelled. There is an obvious lack of minority representation on prime-time television. That's what was on my mind when I posted this.

    LOL @ Seygra20- I keep getting mixed reviews. My mother thought it was extremely corny. Some say they loved it. I just may have to check Hulu out to see for myself.

    @ Melinda (MizSerious) & Sherine - #agreed

    @ BrownnGirl - what you typed is my favorite comment. Even though I never watched it, I enjoyed seeing the promotion for it. I wish it would have lasted at least one more season. It gave me a good feeling about the direction of TV shows.

    @ Anonymous - Like I said above, SOME people liked the show. Thanks for your input. Luckily this is my personal blog and not a newspaper. You really make me wanna go watch it now. = )