Pop Culture

Fall TV: A WoC Watchlist

TV is in a “Golden Age,” right?

We’re supposedly in a renaissance or Golden Age for TV, which pretty much only applies if you’re an anti-hero male character (Breaking Bad, Mad Men, Boardwalk Empire, True Detective, etc.). Even though there are increasing opportunities for female-driven shows, the acclaim and attention doesn’t seem to quite reach everyone, and the type of female characters that are recognized seem to be deeply tied to the way we identify successful TV (and inherent masculine ideals exhibited in each show/character). As a new season starts, I want to take a look at the roles that are portrayed by women of color in these new shows, as Mindy Kaling and Shonda Rhimes are still heralded as groundbreaking forces in television, even if they’re written about in terrible, often racist ways.

Promo poster for Black-ish

On the network comedy front, we have Tracee Ellis Ross, Yara Shahidi and Marsai Martin in ABC’s Black-ish and hopefully bringing back the black family comedy. I mean, was My Wife and Kids the last live-action black family on network TV? Jane the Virgin on CW features Gina Rodriguez, who became a critic fave through her lead role in Filly Brown. Nasim Pedrad is moving beyond her SNL years with her supporting role in Mulaney on FOX.

Viola Davis (if you’ve been away from the Internet shitstorm of which the New York Times was the epicenter) is starring in How to Get Away with Murder on ABC, where she is joined by Aja Naomi King. Octavia Spencer is joining fellow Oscar nominee Viola Davis in the move to TV in her new show, Red Band Society, on FOX. TV and Film ALL-STAR, CCH Pounder might be slumming it a little on CBS’s latest iteration of NCIS: New Orleans, but I’m not holding it against her.

Even superhero shows are bringing some women of color into their casts, some “controversial,” i.e. the casting of Candice Patton as Iris West in The Flash on CW, and some less so (but still kind of because comic book culture), i.e. Jada Pinkett Smith as Fish Mooney and Zabryna Guevara as Sarah Essen on Gotham.

Are there other new shows that feature women of color in prominent roles that have you excited? Are there returning shows or TV favorites that you always look forward to? Is Sleepy Hollow‘s Abby Mills your forever favorite? Are you just waiting for Keisha Castle-Hughes in Game of Thrones? Are you still bowing down at the altar that is Michonne (and Danai Gurira in general)? Who should we keep an eye on this TV season? Add your favorites in the comments!



By Karishma

Karishma is a twenty-something living in New York City and is trying her hardest to live out every cliche about Millennials. This involves eating her feelings, drowning in debt and mocking infomercials. She likes sociology so much that she has two degrees in it, and is still warding off her parents' questions about a real career.

5 replies on “Fall TV: A WoC Watchlist”

I am a Mindy Project addict, largely because Kaling has written a main character who is intelligent, and can also be “shallow.” Mindy loves clothes and glitter and obsessing over celeb culture, but she’s also a well-respected doctor. It’s not often we see female characters who are more than one thing!

I watched black-ish last night and loved it. It does a good job of ripping on racists and clueless white people without coming off as “angry” and alienating network audiences. The whole bit about “keeping it real” was straight outta Chappelle’s Show, and parts reminded me of The Boondocks as well. Just, you know, without all the n-bombs or radical politics.

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