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" the case may hinge on turning up some politically incorrect emails from the production process"
April 23, 2012 11:43 AM   Subscribe

Is “The Bachelor” racist? [Salon.com] "A new lawsuit claims the show discriminates against African-Americans in its casting choices -- and, it's right. Yesterday, two African-Americans from Tennessee, Nathaniel Claybrooks and Christopher Johnson, announced that they are filing a class action lawsuit alleging racial discrimination against the most sentimental of reality TV shows, ABC’s long-running ‘The Bachelor.” (Just scroll through this photo gallery of about five seasons’ worth of participants to get a sense of just how white “The Bachelor” is.)"
posted by Fizz (127 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
Popular culture is pretty racist. How often on any tv show do you see "interracial" (ugh, what a stupid term) couples, such as Black man + White woman? You'll never see it. Even less likely is Asian Man + White Woman.

The obvious exception is White Man + Anything, because in popular culture white males rule the roost.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:48 AM on April 23, 2012 [10 favorites]


I'm a white male, age 18 to 49. Everyone listens to me -- no matter how dumb my suggestions are.
posted by jessssse at 11:55 AM on April 23, 2012 [12 favorites]


I'm pretty sure I saw a black woman in there with the several hundred white faces. NOT RACIST.
posted by El Sabor Asiatico at 11:55 AM on April 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


Um, white dude in the haram master lead role - what did you expect to get cast opposite of him? They would have better luck filing a lawsuit over the cancellation of Undercovers, which featured two strong black leads.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 11:56 AM on April 23, 2012


To be fair to The Bachelor, 14% of American marriages are “interracial”. To be fair to the plaintiff, that’s no reason not to pick a black man as the “lead” and cast mostly black women.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:58 AM on April 23, 2012


Just look at the SkyMall® catalog some time.
posted by jsavimbi at 11:59 AM on April 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Executive producer Mike Fleiss (from the linked Hollywood Reporter article):
"I think Ashley is 1/16th Cherokee Indian, but I cannot confirm. But that is my suspicion! We really tried, but sometimes we feel guilty of tokenism. Oh, we have to wedge African-American chicks in there! We always want to cast for ethnic diversity, it’s just that for whatever reason, they don’t come forward. I wish they would."
Oy.
posted by El Sabor Asiatico at 11:59 AM on April 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


It's ridiculous to claim racism based on this one show. Sure The Bachelor is almost completely white, but have you seen the cast of their new reality show The Inmate? Not a white person among them!
posted by etc. at 12:00 PM on April 23, 2012 [20 favorites]


To be fair to the plaintiff, that’s no reason not to pick a black man as the “lead” and cast mostly black women.

Yes there is, fewer people would watch the show. You can not like that fact, but that doesn't make it not a fact.
posted by christonabike at 12:00 PM on April 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Sure, it's racist. But is it as racist as Flavor of Love?

Yes there is, fewer people would watch the show. You can not like that fact, but that doesn't make it not a fact.

Assumptions are not facts.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:02 PM on April 23, 2012 [12 favorites]


Change it to "no good reason" then.
posted by cashman at 12:03 PM on April 23, 2012


Does a case like this have any sort of legs legally? Every show on TV casts roles based on, among other things, race.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:04 PM on April 23, 2012


Not only are they nearly all white, they also seem to almost all have straight hair.

What's with the dearth of curly-haired contestants?
posted by zarq at 12:05 PM on April 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Popular culture is pretty racist. How often on any tv show do you see "interracial" (ugh, what a stupid term) couples, such as Black man + White woman? You'll never see it. Even less likely is Asian Man + White Woman.

There were at least three episodes of Wife Swap with black/white couples, but I can't think of one that had a black/black couple. For a show that's basically about class war, race is almost never mentioned.
posted by theodolite at 12:08 PM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's interesting to consider discrimination based on a show that's essentially about subjective discrimination. I think it would be very difficult to argue one specific type of discrimination in this case but I have no idea the legal instrument that would be used to protect the subjective nature (for lack of a better phrase) of the contestants. After all, ethnicity is but one of the many traits that are clearly not selected - consider that gender, age, socio-economic class, health, weight etc. could also be taken into account.

I think it would probably come down to the impossibility of proving discrimination.
posted by jimmythefish at 12:08 PM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I support anti-discrimination laws, but I'm uncomfortable enforcing them over what is essentially a casting decision for a bunch of actors. These shows are basically fictions, i.e. first-amendment protected artworks, and I think they have a legal basis to discriminate however they want in selecting participants.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 12:09 PM on April 23, 2012 [7 favorites]


Does a case like this have any sort of legs legally? Every show on TV casts roles based on, among other things, race.

I think the reason casting generally gets a pass is that if a part calls for a white actor, then, well, yeah. (Whether the part needs to be played by a white actor is a question worth asking, but there you go.)

But that's not applicable on a "reality" show.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:10 PM on April 23, 2012


How often on any tv show do you see "interracial" (ugh, what a stupid term) couples, such as Black man + White woman? You'll never see it.

i watch an excessive amount of reality tv. just recently on one a black guy was hooking up with a white girl and he was on the show because he was an ex of another white girl there. it wasn't really ever about race (until the "ex" went and used nutella for blackface).

i agree that there's a long way to go, but i think some reality tv is doing just fine with showing that there are couples of all kinds.

about this specific case, i wonder why it focuses on the bachelor? the bachelorette isn't exactly a hot bed of racial diversity.
posted by nadawi at 12:10 PM on April 23, 2012


How often on any tv show do you see "interracial" (ugh, what a stupid term) couples, such as Black man + White woman?

Ice Loves Coco
Khloe & Lamar

But those aren't tv shows. Their piles of steaming shit.
posted by Jeremy at 12:10 PM on April 23, 2012


So, these guys didn't get cast on The Bachelor... and they're seeing that as a bad thing?
posted by xedrik at 12:11 PM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


The interesting issue here is because this is billed as a reality show, ostensibly the people they hire are not hired for a specific role like actors are. So they could be forced to say, "Hey, this is all scripted, this is like hiring actors", which would be a blow to their brand.
posted by demiurge at 12:12 PM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think Ashley is 1/16th Cherokee Indian,

Is there any white person who doesn't claim to be 1/16th Cherokee Indian? Scurrilous pseudo-medicine men were selling fabricated Native American identities to hopeful new agers all the way through the 80s and 90s.

Unless you're actually an enrolled tribesman in the Cherokee Nation, you're probably better off not trying to claim this identity based on some supposed ancestor.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 12:12 PM on April 23, 2012 [16 favorites]


Can casting be racist? I mean, acting is a job...and, while this is unscripted, it is a casted show where discrimination occurs legally for the most part (they don't want gay people, they don't want people who can't speak English, for example). to play devil's advocate...why is it any different if they limit the number of African Americans?

And honestly, guys wanting to be cast as The Bachelor and not a contestant on The Bachelorette. You might as well sue for not winning the lottery. There's been so few slots for The Bachelor that it's not statistically significant who they've chosen so far.
posted by inturnaround at 12:12 PM on April 23, 2012


I can't see how anyone views "The Bachelor" as if it's like Company X down the street who won't ever interview a qualified African American candidate for a job opening.

There's a big difference between a business that runs a dating competition and excludes a group or groups based on race, and one that is staging a play to perform long skits about dating. Do people really think "The Bachelor" is an actual competition, open to the public, with rules and everything?

It'll be interesting to see how honest the producers are in this when it comes to defining what "reality" means. And if the public even gets it.
posted by Ink-stained wretch at 12:13 PM on April 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Popular culture is pretty racist. How often on any tv show do you see "interracial" (ugh, what a stupid term) couples, such as Black man + White woman? You'll never see it. Even less likely is Asian Man + White Woman.

Happy Endings, Leverage, and Community are all currently on air, so it's becoming more common, but it's not like it isn't about time.

Interesting question though, I know racism is allowed in casting because it's a 'reasonable requirement' of the job, but does that cover game shows too? Could Jeopardy put in place a whites only policy because they're entertainment?
posted by Garm at 12:15 PM on April 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


Just look at the SkyMall® catalog some time.

If you're using that crap for a baseline, I've got some problems with your research, besides the fact that there is no way you are going to convince my dog that an astroturf mat is the same as peeing outside.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 12:15 PM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


as someone who is the audience for reality tv, i don't know a lot people who are big fans who don't know that there's scripting and editing and generally moving the story in the way the producers want it to go. that's been really obvious since the post show interviews after the first real world.

it's like people who say "you know the WWE is fake??" or "you know that popstars use autotune??" - you're not delivering a gotcha - the fan base knows and doesn't care.
posted by nadawi at 12:16 PM on April 23, 2012


nadawi: "it wasn't really ever about race (until the "ex" went and used nutella for blackface). "

What?! Which show is this?
posted by zarq at 12:17 PM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Walking Dead has an Asian man/Caucasian woman relationship. And they are both still alive.
posted by Billiken at 12:19 PM on April 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


Popular culture is pretty racist. How often on any tv show do you see "interracial" (ugh, what a stupid term) couples, such as Black man + White woman? You'll never see it. Even less likely is Asian Man + White Woman.

From recent memory...
Happy Endings (Brad - black man, Jane - white woman)
Scrubs (Turk - black man, Carla - latina woman)
Lost (Bernard - white man, Rose - black woman)
posted by m@f at 12:21 PM on April 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


*speechless*
posted by zarq at 12:22 PM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Walking Dead has an Asian man/Caucasian woman relationship. And they are both still alive.

For now...
posted by The Michael The at 12:23 PM on April 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


I had no idea that Christopher Johnson was NFL star Chris Johnson. It's interesting given the cozy relationship between the NFL and Disney-owned property ESPN since The Bachelor airs on the Disney-owned network. Tim Tebow was allegedly approached and declined to be the Bachelor, and they already had an NFL player, Jesse Palmer. The production company seems very amenable to professional athletes--just not non-white ones. The fracas over Terrell Owens and Nicollette Sheridan's skit prior to a Monday Night Football game would indicate the casting would generate plenty of publicity.

Before the lawsuit was filed, there was already a man campaigning to be the first Black Bachelor.
posted by gladly at 12:24 PM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


*speechless*

I would be, except that I've watched some of those MTV Real World challenges, and those people are really, really dumb. Or really, really good at playing dumb to stir up drama and get more camera time. Or both.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:24 PM on April 23, 2012


zarq - 26 minutes into this video. basically two girls got really, really drunk and thought it would be funny to playact the couple. one of them isn't american and the other one was raised basically in a cult - so their personal experience of actual blackface is nil. all the same, it came off really, really bad.
posted by nadawi at 12:24 PM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


For now...

I thought Maggie was going to get got in the season finale, but nope. Glenn is going to be around a while I think. Also, the black guy is still on there too.
posted by cashman at 12:26 PM on April 23, 2012


[I'm not sure if this should need clarifying, but: talking about racism, totally fine. One-liner comments saying "x are racist", not really so good.]
posted by cortex at 12:26 PM on April 23, 2012


I would be, except that I've watched some of those MTV Real World challenges, and those people are really, really dumb. Or really, really good at playing dumb to stir up drama and get more camera time. Or both.

...
posted by Fizz at 12:26 PM on April 23, 2012


Could Jeopardy put in place a whites only policy because they're entertainment?

Yes, I think they can. It's not a job, right? Therefore employment laws wouldn't apply.

I mean, they'd be cancelled throughout most of the country immediately. You saw what happened to Rush Limbaugh because he called a woman a slut. So, market forces would make such a change impossible.
posted by inturnaround at 12:29 PM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


All right, listen. The Bachelor is fantastically awful television. You do not want to appear on the show. As a faithful viewer (way more faithful than the Bachelors turn out to be) trust me on this one.
posted by graventy at 12:32 PM on April 23, 2012


Can casting be racist?

Well obviously it can. The US entertainment industry has had a terrible history of discrimination against racial minorities, to the extent where it was extremely uncommon for a minority actor to get any kind of major role in TV or film until relatively recently. I don't know whether that means this particular lawsuit would be found valid in court, but racist casting is a big problem in general.
posted by burnmp3s at 12:32 PM on April 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


I had no idea that Christopher Johnson was NFL star Chris Johnson.

They are not the same person:

...while Johnson (not the star running back for the NFL’s Tennessee Titans) played wide receiver at Tennessee State and is preparing to try out for NFL teams.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 12:33 PM on April 23, 2012


So, market forces would make such a change impossible.

I think only if it was explicit. There are plenty of jacked up situations on television that are deserving of scorn, but there is no official "we don't want them non-whites" proclamation that you can point to, or have the president get involved over.

But if for the next few years there just mysteriously are all-white contestants, and the people casting just say "I dunno!" as typically happens, first there has to be the long drawn out "I know racism exists, but never anywhere you point it out" conversation and a detailed examination of all the contestants, applicants and so forth. And even if that happened, there would still be a sizeable portion of people who just do not get how ingrained race-based decisions are in American society.
posted by cashman at 12:33 PM on April 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


nadawi, I don't watch a lot of reality TV but I remember seeing that....and thinking that it was a really transparent attempt by some producer to stir up some drama on an otherwise lame show.
posted by weinbot at 12:35 PM on April 23, 2012


Scrubs (Turk - black man, Carla - latina woman)

Doesn't count, they're both brown. JD, the white lead of the show, did date a black girl though.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:36 PM on April 23, 2012


"Neither 'The Bachelor,' which has been on for 16 seasons, nor ‘The Bachelorette', which is about to begin its eighth, has ever featured a person of color in the title position.

Jesus. 16 seasons. That comes across as a slap in the face - it's like they don't think people of color are desirable enough to be the subject of these shows. Intended or not, that's the message that comes across for me.
posted by naju at 12:36 PM on April 23, 2012 [7 favorites]


.while Johnson (not the star running back for the NFL’s Tennessee Titans)

Ahh, missed the "not"
posted by gladly at 12:36 PM on April 23, 2012


weinbot - well, i mean, airing it, sure - but i have no doubt that scene happened as filmed. the sober producers might have suggested it to two very drunk people, but it wasn't scripted. i've seen a lot of the fall out (i happen to love that show) and emily, the girl in nutella, is pretty broken by the whole thing. she's not a good actress and she basically falls into shocked sobs every time the topic comes up.

now, mtv milked it for everything it was worth, that much is very true.
posted by nadawi at 12:38 PM on April 23, 2012


Does a case like this have any sort of legs legally? Every show on TV casts roles based on, among other things, race.

The area of law you're looking for is the "Bona Fide Occupational Qualification" defense, or BFOQ for short. This is the test that says, basically, that a church isn't illegally discriminating when they only hire members of their own religion as preachers, and that Paramount isn't illegally discriminating when it only hires women for female roles.

Part of the reason this is going to be a thing is "race" and "color" are NOT included in this defense. They are strict scrutiny, versus sex discrimination (intermediate scrutiny) and religious discrimination (intermediate scrutiny for these purposes.)
posted by Navelgazer at 12:49 PM on April 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


Doesn't count, they're both brown. JD, the white lead of the show, did date a black girl though.

I love when this crops up in sitcoms that are predominantly white. You know: the date a black girl for two, maybe three episodes if you're lucky - trope.

- Zack Morris dated Lisa Turtle for all of one episode. [Saved by the Bell]
- Ross & Joey both dated Charlie - I think 5 or 6 episodes before she disappeared. [Friends]
- Shawn dating Angela, all of one season I believe. [Boy Meets World]

Interestingly enough, I cannot recall any interracial dating on The Cosby Show or Family Matters, two sitcoms that was focused very much on black families in America. Are they racist? Something to think about.
posted by Fizz at 12:49 PM on April 23, 2012


> it's like they don't think people of color are desirable enough to be the subject of these shows. Intended or not, that's the message that comes across for me.

Just to state the obvious, the issue is that they think You, the collective viewership, don't think that people of color etc., etc.

They might be right; they might be wrong; they might be right, but only until a threshold number of episodes is crossed; they might be right or wrong about the number of threshold episodes needed to change the audience's expectations and tastes.

The point, of course, is that finding out these things requires an additional investment and additional risk-- sure, it may read as something with obvious moral meaning, but it's driven by simple calculations, howsoever correct or incorrect, of profit and loss.
posted by darth_tedious at 12:49 PM on April 23, 2012


Grantland nails it.

Mr. Belloni: “Well, I don’t know about the ultimate merits of the case, but I know that typically class actions are settled at some point. Many class actions are lawyer-driven, where the lawyer realizes there is a potential case and the lawyer will recruit lead plaintiffs. And what happens is, these guys will get a lot of press for the lawsuit being filed, then other people that didn’t get selected join the suit and the case is litigated for a couple of years, then there is a settlement of a couple million bucks because the studio just wants it to go away. The lawyers take 40 percent and all the people that are participating as plaintiffs get a few hundred bucks and the lead plaintiffs will get a couple thousand bucks. That is typically how class actions play out. Who knows if this one will go the distance?”

Now this is starting to make a lot more sense. Essentially, in the absence of “smoking gun” evidence, the lawyers and plaintiffs are on some mafia shit, extorting the network through the threat of bad press associated with the lawsuit.

posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:49 PM on April 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't watch it anymore, but I watched it for years, and you know what show featured the most interracial relationships I think I've ever seen on TV? The Biggest Loser. You know, since those are REAL PEOPLE AND THAT'S WHAT REAL RELATIONSHIPS LOOK LIKE. It was actually refreshing and kind of sad at the same time. Only one show shows couples who look like the couples I know in real life.
posted by peep at 12:55 PM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, and any time anyone brings up race and network TV, I'm reminded of this, from The State's failed attempt to jump from MTV to CBS in 1995.

There really is some weird bad shit happening amongst TV execs when it comes to race.

Then, according to people at the meeting, Pike quietly sizes up the group. He notices, he says, that he doesn't see any black faces. This is something the group should consider-black faces would help attract black audience. Pike then flatly explains that research shows there are three reasons why African-Americans are an important part of the late-night demographic: First, they have no place to go in the morning-no jobs-so they can stay up as late as they like; second, they can't follow hour-long drama shows-no attention span-so sketches are perfect for them; third, network TV is free. When they leave the meeting, the group is clearly shaken. One of the members confesses, "He just described the three reasons why I would be watching the show." (John Pike responds: "I would never have said any of those things.")
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:56 PM on April 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


more important question:


WHERE ARE ALL THE GINGERS???
posted by dave78981 at 12:59 PM on April 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


From recent memory...
Happy Endings (Brad - black man, Jane - white woman)
Scrubs (Turk - black man, Carla - latina woman)
Lost (Bernard - white man, Rose - black woman)



Lost also had Said and Shannon, a pretty highly implausible couple, but nonetheless, they were a thing. Of course, she died soon after.


So, yeah.
posted by dave78981 at 1:02 PM on April 23, 2012


Cedric Daniels and Rhonda Perlman.
posted by Navelgazer at 1:04 PM on April 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


I cannot recall any interracial dating on The Cosby Show or Family Matters, two sitcoms that was focused very much on black families in America. Are they racist?

I think Rudy had a little white boyfriend for a second. There are probably actual examples. I never really watched Family Matters. I don't think we're anywhere near high enough standards to look at Bill Cosby's show for racism. There are about 2000 shows in line ahead of it.

they could create and air programs that cater to themselves

I think you're confused.
posted by cashman at 1:04 PM on April 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


How often on any tv show do you see "interracial" (ugh, what a stupid term) couples, such as Black man + White woman? You'll never see it. Even less likely is Asian Man + White Woman.

Just a friendly reminder, folks: KokuRyu did not write that you never see interracial couples that feature minority male + white woman on television shows. So I don't think the counterexamples really prove all that much. I can recall interracial couples that featured minority man + white woman from the 70s and 80s, but I think it's safe to say things haven't really improved all that much.

As far as interracial on dating shows, anyone remember Singled Out on MTV back in the mid-90's? It's where we first got to know the awesomeness that is Chris Hardwick and the bizarreness that is Jenny McCarthy. Anyway, I watched that show all the time, and they had absolutely no problem throwing men and women of all races and ethnicities together, for both the hetero and lesbian/gay couples.

I can also recall at least one Fox dating reality show where there were at least a couple of black men in the opening rounds of the dating pool for the white female star.

That said, I think darth_tedious is on to something with this line: they think You, the collective viewership, don't think that people of color etc., etc.

I think this is spot on, and strangely enough, it echoes the sentiments of Hollywood before the Kirk-Uhura kiss was broadcast. The producers anticipated much more severe reactions than actually occurred, and I think something similar is going on here.
posted by lord_wolf at 1:05 PM on April 23, 2012


Maybe if Black people were allowed to have their own network

the problem with jokey racism is you're never really sure where the joke is and how much if any of it is serious. all the same, BET has some critics.
posted by nadawi at 1:06 PM on April 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


These shows are cast mostly on looks and personality (for various values of "personality"), right? Can't the defendants simply claim they haven't found any people of color who met the nebulous requirements such a casting policy would have? Absent any specific mentions of race in the procedures manual wouldn't it be difficult to prove racial bias in such a situation?
posted by tommasz at 1:09 PM on April 23, 2012


@Renoroc: The existence of BET in no way mitigates this issue. Also consider: you may not have intended it this way but the way you framed your statement came of as pretty racist and snotty.
posted by Doleful Creature at 1:09 PM on April 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Jesus. 16 seasons. That comes across as a slap in the face - it's like they don't think people of color are desirable enough to be the subject of these shows. Intended or not, that's the message that comes across for me.

Keep in mind that in more than a few of those 16 seasons, the Bachelor or the Bachelorette was the last person the previous or/ette that the the other or/ette had rejected if the audience cared about them. So Trista Sutter was picked to be the Bachelorette because when she was on The Bachelor he rejected her in favor of another woman.
posted by inturnaround at 1:10 PM on April 23, 2012


there also seems to be a disproportionate number of blond women.

and no myopic women, but i wasn't expecting girls with glasses. They are all too cute for the Bachelor.
posted by jb at 1:13 PM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I disagree with that first comment by KokuRyu. Sure, you don't see many mixed couples on TV, but the least represented (to my eye) is black women with white guys. You see it so rarely. This may be a UK thing.

Anyway - Far more disquieting to me is the speed at which black contestants get voted off of all viewer voted reality shows. Sure, you can start the latest season of Strictly Come Dancing (The US version is called Dancing With The Stars) with a fairly representative sample of people, but come week 4 the Great British Public is going to start voting off the ethnics.

Starting with the women.

And don't even mention Brian Belo. The fact that a black guy won Big Brother once doesn't disprove what is actually a very obvious telephone voting pattern.
posted by zoo at 1:17 PM on April 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


What's with the dearth of curly-haired contestants?
posted by zarq at 3:05 PM on April 23 [2 favorites +] [!]


Fashion. I spent most of the '80s and early '90s dreaming of one day having masses of ringlets, like a princess.

then I find out in the 2000s that there are women with that kind of hair who iron it flat, which is just like taking a gold cup and carefully gilding it with tin. They are crazy.

/ has straight hair, still dreaming
posted by jb at 1:17 PM on April 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


How often on any tv show do you see "interracial" (ugh, what a stupid term) couples, such as Black man + White woman? You'll never see it. Even less likely is Asian Man + White Woman.

Just a friendly reminder, folks: KokuRyu did not write that you never see interracial couples that feature minority male + white woman on television shows.


Yes, he did. Emphasis added.
posted by Etrigan at 1:19 PM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Anyone get the feeling scrolling down the linked list of contestants that there were actually only about 5 different people in that photo set. I swear I had to go back and double check a couple of times that they hadn't just plastered the same model photograph in multiple times.
posted by zoo at 1:21 PM on April 23, 2012 [6 favorites]


i think it's quite likely that the producers of these shows believed that their primary demographic was whites 18-34, and so chose whatever 'characters' would best boost ratings in that demographic. is it racist? in the sense that it's probably a preference by the producers to cast someone from one race over another, yes.

should it be legally actionable? that's a much harder question. casting when you're trying to attract a young demographic is all about discrimination -- thin, pretty, young, stupid people all appear to be in demand for these shows, while fat, ugly, intelligent, and old people are not.
posted by modernnomad at 1:21 PM on April 23, 2012


To TV-types, curly typically reads as either too quirky, too stalkery (Glenn Close set the bar here: ever since "Fatal Attraction," nearly all female stalkers have curlier hair than the other love interests of the guys they're stalking) or *gasp* too Jewish.
posted by hermitosis at 1:21 PM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yes there is, fewer people would watch the show. You can not like that fact, but that doesn't make it not a fact.

That "fact" may have been true 50 years ago or 20 years ago or 10 years ago. But having that as a rationale right now is particularly absurd. A little movie starring Kevin Hart called "Think Like a Man" was number one at the box office this weekend. And hey -- guess what? All-black cast. Black director too. Data says it did well among all demos.

It's "facts" like this that get defied more and more these days and more power to the defiers.
posted by blucevalo at 1:25 PM on April 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


Maybe if Black people were allowed to have their own network, [a "Black Entertainment Television", for example,] they could create and air programs that cater to themselves. I'd like to see laws overturned that prevent minorities from doing such things.

Gross.

Anyway, it would have made my life if Zack and Lisa had lasted for more than an episode. I had a huge crush on him (obviously), and I loved her - she was so pretty. Plus my little sister grew up to look a lot like her, which makes me love her more.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 1:26 PM on April 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


Yes, he did. Emphasis added.

My bad with regard to what he wrote. However, I think it's fair to conclude that he didn't mean it literally, else he's saying that something can be less likely to occur than never when he writes about the probability of seeing Asian male + White female.

(KokoRyu, about now is when you step in with an assist to help yer ol' pal wolf wipe the egg off his face, pardna.)
posted by lord_wolf at 1:27 PM on April 23, 2012


My wife is always on the lookout for mixed race couples on TV, especially in ads, and I feel like I see a fair number, at least relative to the number of mixed race couples I see in life. I what I see even more of (in commercials at least) is couples of people whose race I couldn't guess. Usually these are women, and they're frequently paired with white men, which just sort of feels like hedging your bets in case the audience either hates or loves interracial couples.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 1:27 PM on April 23, 2012


Part of the reason this is going to be a thing is "race" and "color" are NOT included in this defense. They are strict scrutiny, versus sex discrimination (intermediate scrutiny) and religious discrimination (intermediate scrutiny for these purposes.)

So TV shows can't cast for actors based on race? Someone should tell them that.
posted by smackfu at 1:27 PM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


However, I think it's fair to conclude that he didn't mean it literally,

Fair enough. But counterexamples do prove a point -- as others have said, Damon Wayans Jr. being married to a blonde on "Happy Endings" doesn't mean racism is dead, but it's something. A small step, but a step nonetheless.
posted by Etrigan at 1:30 PM on April 23, 2012


I have taken the position in the past (warning: self-link) that the precise way all the women look like each other is one of the ways you can tell that secretly, The Bachelor is science fiction. Obviously, you can argue that nobody should WANT to be on The Bachelor, and in reality, nobody should. Because it's gross. (Though Bachelor Pad is worse. That will take a very motivated plaintiff.)

But I don't think it's a good idea to spend a lot of time deciding which pastimes are so valuable that discrimination in them is worthy of ferreting out. Dammit, if you happen to be a black woman and you want to humiliate yourself and kiss a dude on TV who's kissing a lot of other women on TV at the same time, and you want to go on dates where you're supposed to be all excited that Colbie Caillat is playing and you have to say "I COULDN'T BELIEVE IT COLBIE CAILLAT WAS PLAYING!" right into the camera, and you want to skydive and be expected to make out right after, and you want to wear party dresses and hang around with drunk pharmaceutical salespersons named Brandi-with-an-i who start walking around with one boob hanging out when they've had half a glass of champagne, THAT IS YOUR RIGHT, and while you should perhaps be stopped by your mental health professional, family, or friends, you should not be stopped by the fact (if it is the case) that ABC believes America only wants to watch white people act like idiots.

We can all act like idiots, and we can all watch each other act like idiots, and that's what America means to me.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 1:31 PM on April 23, 2012 [24 favorites]


So TV shows can't cast for actors based on race? Someone should tell them that.

Next season on Game of Thrones: Arya Stark spends several non-canonical episodes in the Summer Isles for some reason.
posted by Winnemac at 1:35 PM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Does a case like this have any sort of legs legally? Every show on TV casts roles based on, among other things, race.
Yes, but "every" TV show is not a reality show/contest. In fact, when I think about most "reality shows" they usually tend to have more diversity then a typical fictional show. The Real World, Apprentice, Survivor, All the content on VH1 - they typically have lots of diversity. Jersy Shore is supposed to be about "Italians" but Snooky is actually Honduran, but was adopted by Italian parents.

Someone mentioned "flavor of love". I had the misfortune of seeing that at one point and there white women on the show.

If a show is "supposed" to be real, and not scripted fiction, and if a show is a contest with prizes, how can you justify racial discrimination?
Can casting be racist? I mean, acting is a job...and, while this is unscripted, it is a casted show where discrimination occurs legally for the most part (they don't want gay people, they don't want people who can't speak English, for example). to play devil's advocate...why is it any different if they limit the number of African Americans?
People who can't speak English are not a protected class. I'm not sure how gay rights works with respect to a dating show, but gay rights groups have won lawsuits against eHarmony for discriminating against them (although the solution was to open another site, rather then allow gays on the 'main' eHarmony)
I can't see how anyone views "The Bachelor" as if it's like Company X down the street who won't ever interview a qualified African American candidate for a job opening.

There's a big difference between a business that runs a dating competition and excludes a group or groups based on race, and one that is staging a play to perform long skits about dating.
---

Of course speaking of hiring white actors for 'white' roles, one thing that tends to happen is white actors getting cast for characters that were actually ethic in the source material. Rico in Starship Troopers is one example. Apparently for when they were doing for The Hunger Games they only asked white women to audition for the role of Katnis, despite the fact that the main character in the book was described as having "Olive Skin"
posted by delmoi at 1:47 PM on April 23, 2012


If you want to see interracial couples on television watch home renovation shows that are shot in Canada. Income Property, the Candice Olsen show, Property Brothers, Holmes Inspection. All of these shows are filled with interracial couples.
posted by bove at 1:47 PM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I love when this crops up in sitcoms that are predominantly white. You know: the date a black girl for two, maybe three episodes if you're lucky - trope.

Fizz, that describes the relationship length of every girl JD dates, except for his designated in-cast sexual-tension partner, Elliot. The actual trope here is "brings in short-term love interest for 2-3 episodes, only to have her leave, because she was a short-term plot development, not a new cast member." Has nothing to do with race, and isn't limited by gender - Elliot gets boyfriends for the same length.

Used on: Seinfeld, Happy Days, Lost in Space (that monkey with antennae - OK, not a boyfriend for Penny, but worked out the same way)...
posted by IAmBroom at 1:47 PM on April 23, 2012


So TV shows can't cast for actors based on race? Someone should tell them that.

Well that's the point of this, isn't it? It's an untested area of law, and one in which actual discrimination is very difficult to prove legally. And even if one were to do so, in appeals it would eventually be formally stated that one may cast racially specific characters based on race and everything would go back to normal.

Except for reality shows, where institutional discrimination can be shown (as here) through season after season of contestants, cast nominally into a race-neutral role. No version of BFOQ can apply there, any more than it could when hiring wait staff.

So this is interesting, is all I'm saying.
posted by Navelgazer at 1:52 PM on April 23, 2012


Flashforward had Gabrielle Union and John Cho as a couple (Black woman + Asian American man) and the new political drama Scandal has Kerry Washington and Tony Goldwyn as star-crossed lovers (Black woman + White man who happens to be the POTUS). Also, the recently ended comedy Eastbound and Down had a Latina + White man couple.

Next season on Game of Thrones: Arya Stark spends several non-canonical episodes in the Summer Isles for some reason.

Well, speaking of GoT, last season we had Daenerys Targaryen and Khal Drogo. She is practically albino and he was some kind of darker ethnicity which some have assumed is similar to Mongol.

Also, if you catch Taye Diggs or Blair Underwood in any TV roles, they are usually involved with non-Black women.
posted by fuse theorem at 1:55 PM on April 23, 2012


Well, speaking of GoT, last season we had Daenerys Targaryen and Khal Drogo.

I'm not sure that's really the best example, give the more unsavory aspects of the arrangement.
posted by Panjandrum at 2:02 PM on April 23, 2012


Re: The Walking Dead

Also, the black guy is still on there too.

Yeah but like. It is kind of shitty that I'm pretty sure he only said about three sentences this entire season. Every time I saw him on screen I was like HEY! It's THAT guy!
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 2:11 PM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


inturnaround wrote:
You saw what happened to Rush Limbaugh because he called a woman a slut dozens of women horrendous names, including slut, for over 20 years, among many, many other examples of rank sexism. So, market forces would may make such a change impossible. Eventually.
FTFY.
posted by Critical_Beatdown at 2:14 PM on April 23, 2012


Television does not exist to encourage racial equality.
Television does not exist to entertain.
Television does not exist to educate.
Television does not exist to make you feel good.
While it may do some of the above, sometimes, my kingdom for the blink tag
Television nearly always exists to sell your eyeballs.
If the people buying eyeballs want eyeballs that belong to white folks between the ages of 18-42, they are not going to keep buying air time if it gets them eyeball containers they don't want without the optical organs they desire.

Thus, the point of The Bachelor is not to get any specific guy into a relationship with any random woman.

It's to induce the eyeballs to keep staring at the damned television.

So. If you want this to change (who is on what shows, and what shows are on the air), talk to the people writing the big checks. The advertisers.

And talk to the white folks in your life about why they should clamor for believable/strong/admirable/whatever adjective you find appropriate black characters and shows.

While we're fixing this, let's work simultaneously to fix the fact that this show (and many others!) is a misogynist meat market. I apologize, I won't be able to help because I don't watch television.
posted by bilabial at 2:22 PM on April 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


Also, the black guy is still on there too.

T-Dog cleverly survives in this zombie series by having as few lines as humanly possible. The zombies don't notice you when you never give a big emotional speech.
posted by mightygodking at 2:24 PM on April 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


Also, any discussion of Scrubs which says there aren't any interracial relationships while ignoring the fact that the show's central relationship is an interracial bromance of such force as to short-circuit all operating gaydar stations for a thousand-mile radius is silly.
posted by mightygodking at 2:26 PM on April 23, 2012 [8 favorites]


Charlie Young and Zoey Bartlett, though that was kind of a major plot point.
posted by Navelgazer at 2:31 PM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


While we're fixing this, let's work simultaneously to fix the fact that this show (and many others!) is a misogynist meat market. I apologize, I won't be able to help because I don't watch television.

You can help a lot by talking about it. Which you are. So carry on.
posted by sweetkid at 2:38 PM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


You know, thinking on it, as a minority, it's pretty shitty what the eyeball-merchants think of me: "You don't particularly need to see anybody who looks like you in a primary role, Rastus, so be thankful for the few scraps we throw you and STFU."

But I'm starting to think lately that if I were an 18-30 something white male, I'd feel even more insulted by what Hollywood thinks of me: "You're a largely useless, infantile fuck up who can be kept happy with occasional glimpses of teh bewbs and frequent fart jokes. You also are so primitive that you feel deeply threatened by suggestions that a world exists outside of your tribe, so you need to be spared the sight of anything that challenges the hetero-norm. Here are some of the aforementioned breasts. Now STFU. [Fart sound.]"
posted by lord_wolf at 2:44 PM on April 23, 2012 [12 favorites]


The most believable mixed-race couple on TV right now is Chris O'Donnell and LL Cool J on CSI:LA. You can tell they really care about each other.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 2:52 PM on April 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Wow, Salon's layout has gotten overwhelmingly ugly while I wasn't paying attention.
posted by fiercecupcake at 2:53 PM on April 23, 2012


My wife informs me that Chris and LL are not on CSI:LA but on NCIS:LA.

Sorry about that.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 2:55 PM on April 23, 2012


I recently gave The Finder a try and the "Endearingly wacky white male solves problems with the help of his minority and female (sometimes both!) sidekicks" genre seems to be getting pretty crowded these days.
posted by ODiV at 2:56 PM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I have a sort of irrational, hard to explain love for Tough Love on VH1. On that show, the host coaches women in how to improve/find relationships, and the cast is always pretty diverse. The host sets the women up in all kinds of interracial pairings, just whoever seems to hit it off. It's nowhere near as popular as the Bachelor, but I doubt its ratings would soar if it turned up all white one season. Probably the opposite.

There are some strong cases to be made for the show to be misogynist, but I think it does a pretty good job with race.

Also, as an Indian kid/teenager I was told more times than i want to think about that no one wants to look at people like me on television...yay? WTF? Then the 2000s happened and --thanks Aziz Ansari, Mindy Kaling, Kal Penn, Naveen Andrews, and the people who gave them chances.

Seriously. That message is crappy and hearing it sucks. And it's not true.
posted by sweetkid at 3:00 PM on April 23, 2012 [6 favorites]


...is fantastically awful television. ... As a faithful viewer ...

I dunno, just like this comment.

Just waiting for the first trans-person that survives a few episodes, now that'll be train wreck TV!
posted by sammyo at 3:15 PM on April 23, 2012


Unless you're actually an enrolled tribesman in the Cherokee Nation, you're probably better off not trying to claim this identity based on some supposed ancestor.

If you ain't getting casino money your blood quanta ain't shit homeboy and your drinking problem ain't proof of no thing.

Just scroll through this photo gallery of about five seasons’ worth of participants to get a sense of just how white “The Bachelor” is.

Appalling. If you aren't already cynical scroll through this endless line of identical white women. If I were The Bachelor I'd be so lonely.
posted by fuq at 3:22 PM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Just waiting for the first trans-person that survives a few episodes, now that'll be train wreck TV!

I kind of forgot about this, but the 2004 winner of Big Brother was trans.

In fact, if you look through the UK Big Brother winners, you've got 6 men, four women, a gay guy, a trans woman, a black guy, someone with tourettes and a Liverpudlian. That speaks quite well to the inclusive nature of the younger UK reality TV watching demographic.
posted by zoo at 3:24 PM on April 23, 2012


As far as advertising goes, the media expert that NPR interviewed on this lawsuit pointed out that ads are actually well ahead of programming when it comes to racial inclusiveness. So Bilabial out seems the advertisers are aware of the issue, but they don't have as much direct control as you think they do.
posted by happyroach at 3:36 PM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Somebody mentioned Scandal, but it should be pointed out that Shonda Rhimes other shows, Grey's Anatomy and Private Practice, both regularly feature multi-racial relationships, with the most famous being Sandra Oh's character on Grey's first in a relationship with Isaiah Washington's character and later with Kevin McKidd (a ginger!) and Kate Walsh's character on Private Practice with Taye Diggs (who I personally would watch do anything) and now with Benjamin Bratt.

But the really cool thing about her shows is that she practices race-blind casting in general, so not only are the leads very diverse but families appearing in a single episode run the gamut of diversity as well. It's hard to believe that she's the only producer running her shows that way, but she is.
posted by hydropsyche at 3:37 PM on April 23, 2012


How I Met Your Mother had two long-running inter-racial relationships going simultaneously recently, with Barney/Nora (white guy/Persian woman) and Robin/Kevin (white woman/subcontinental guy) and even a long-running tertiary black/white gay relationship with Barney's brother and his partner. That said, the main cast is of course blindingly white.
posted by Navelgazer at 4:19 PM on April 23, 2012


shonda rhimes is amazing when it comes to her color-blind casting. it's not just sandra oh (who is fucking incredible this season and breaking my goddamned heart*). there's also callie torres - george, mark sloan, arizona. the previews for next week also show another interracial relationship maybe starting up.


*am i the only one that thinks the yang/hunt story line is that thing that show writers do sometimes where they write some of the drama about actors leaving into the big dramatic scenes - the whole thing where both yang and hunt say, basically "i can't make him/her stay, it's their choice" at different points of the season - and it's known that at least one person is leaving the show. anyway - i will be tying in all caps on the internet livid if sandra oh is the one who goes.
posted by nadawi at 4:22 PM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


she practices race-blind casting in general

I don't think she does. Sure she thinks she does, but in my estimation that is not what is happening. The last time I read a description of the way it works when she does it, it seemed to me that it was sleight of hand.

The people still came and read for the parts, and the casting folks chose the person by who they thought best represented that person. So basically you're removing "white doctor" from the description, but then the character reads the lines and the people responsible for casting get to choose who feels like a doctor to them. So essentially you're just relying on people who have most likely grown up in american society with biases in place, and the process rests on those biases. It's a step in the right direction, but it is not a colorblind casting process.

Think about it this way. I go play pickup basketball often. If I walk up to play and the people picking teams have a sheet in front of them that tells them to pick 4 black players and 1 white player [pretend everyone is the same height], that sucks right? Especially if there are 25 white guys waiting to play, and 8 black guys. All the black guys are going to play.

Now, if that has been going on for years, and all of a sudden we remove that sheet and say "Okay, just pick whoever you think plays best", guess what is going to happen? The process isn't all of a sudden colorblind. It rests now on the biases people grew up with in American society. So still, the black players get picked.

And that happens. People will see me in a sea of white players and pick me. Or I'll be playing with people and they will pass me the ball, stand there, and wait for me to turn into Kobe freaking Bryant. It is hilarious. I obviously want to play, but I'll be thinking, you know, it might have benefited you to pick the guy who has crazy dribbling skills, or the white guy who is shorter than me that is lefty and wearing a faded hoopitup t-shirt. It's because of those biases. Society tells us black guys can play basketball. Society tells us white guys are doctors.

In the wake of the trayvon thing, CNN aired a program a week or two ago where kids look at pictures of two kids. One kid is dropping something and the other one is reaching to pick it up. A kid saw a white child dropping something and a black one picking it up and said that the black child was stealing. They switched the kids races and the kid now said the child (same poses) was helping. And of course there is ample information out there about how children, black and white, view black dolls.

I think if you want to go against racism, you might have to do it consciously at the moment. Trying to remove the word "white" and then acting like people aren't still biased in this society is just a parlor trick to me.
posted by cashman at 4:28 PM on April 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


well, however she's doing it, she has a far more racially diverse cast than most shows on television. she integrates the cast and gives big important story lines to everyone - men, women, white, minority, gay, tall, short, young, and old. something is going very right over there when it comes to how the powers that be view people who aren't 18-40 year old white men.

and removing race markers from the sheet is an important step. is it the end goal? of course not. but if you don't limit it up front, people who don't follow "type" can get in front of those who make casting decisions and knock their socks off. their journey is harder, they have to prove themselves more - this is all still true - but they're given the chance. that's more than most shows are doing.
posted by nadawi at 4:37 PM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I agree it's a step in the right direction. It just always gets me when that process is described as colorblind, because it isn't. Noting that is helpful, in my opinion, so people don't hit that and think that is the end goal, because surely a lot of people think that's it.
posted by cashman at 4:43 PM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I would love to see this case go to trial and, in general, see Hollywood bound by the same sort of equitable hiring standards that the rest of the world is bound by. Yes, there are circumstances where race is a factor in casting -- when the character is clearly, and necessarily, black, because that factors into the plot point.

But the truth is that a vast majority of the roles that are out there don't need to be anything. They don't need to be male. They don't need to be white. They don't need to be 25. A doctor? A car dealer? A teacher? Either gender, any race, and a wide-selection of ages will do.

But casting directors have exceptional myopia out here in Hollywood. And a lot of writers and directors and producers do too. It's how they wind up representing LA -- a town that's about 60 percent hispanic -- as almost entirely anglo, again and again and again.

I'd love it if the law was, unless the script necessarily indicated otherwise, there must be equitable casting. If somebody sues your show, and shows that you have consistently failed to cast an equitable percentage of people of color, and women, and disabled people, and etc., they will have a case against you, as they would against any other business in the United States.

Without that sort of legal force, it's not going to happen. And it has to. This is not Mayberry, and American television shouldn't look like Mayberry. And that doesn't just go for secondary cast members and under-five performances, but for lead performances in shows.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 4:46 PM on April 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


By "the rest of the world," I meant "the rest of corporate America."
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 4:49 PM on April 23, 2012


*am i the only one that thinks the yang/hunt story line is that thing that show writers do sometimes where they write some of the drama about actors leaving into the big dramatic scenes - the whole thing where both yang and hunt say, basically "i can't make him/her stay, it's their choice" at different points of the season - and it's known that at least one person is leaving the show. anyway - i will be tying in all caps on the internet livid if sandra oh is the one who goes.

Ugh that is EXACTLY what I think they're doing and it sucks because Oh is the single best thing about that show, along with her friendship with Pompeo's character. If either of those actors leave the show, I'm so done with GA. Hunt can leave any time though.
posted by Lina Lamont at 4:52 PM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


yeah, i actually wonder if the show is losing teddy and/or hunt and either avery or april. it (obviously) wouldn't be beyond the show to kill off/write out some of the OG cast, but i hope that's not what is going on.

and, i lean towards it not being sandra oh, because it seems like shonda rhimes is handing her everything she needs to win an emmy for this season.
posted by nadawi at 5:02 PM on April 23, 2012


I realise we have moved on, but I just followed the link to the Nutella footage and WHAT IN THE BLUE HELL?

Just needed to get that off my SERIOUSLY WHAT THE WHAT? chest.
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:12 PM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


How often on any tv show do you see "interracial" (ugh, what a stupid term) couples, such as Black man + White woman? You'll never see it.

I think this varies by country. I've seen this on Canadian TV shows and an issue was never made of it. It just was. Often, when it does happen in American TV, it is a plot point.

(Interestingly, Canadian commercials are full of "interracial" couples and families; I'm pretty sure I recently saw a commercial where a white family has a black kid, which actually does seem a little bit weird, but I just assumed he was adopted once I noticed this fact and stopped to think about it.)
posted by asnider at 5:19 PM on April 23, 2012


I agree it's a step in the right direction. It just always gets me when that process is described as colorblind, because it isn't.

It certainly isn't in the case of Scandal. The show has a White U.S. president claiming to be in love with a Black woman (who's the star of the show) while he also has a (White) wife. The FLOTUS was shown wearing a dress fashioned like something right out of Gone with the Wind to a state dinner. The First Family's dog is named "TJ", a reference to Thomas Jefferson, the alleged lover of slave Sally Hemings. The so-called "colorblind" casting on this show is rather on-the-nose.
posted by fuse theorem at 5:49 PM on April 23, 2012


I think this varies by country. I've seen this on Canadian TV shows and an issue was never made of it. It just was. Often, when it does happen in American TV, it is a plot point.

We're quick learners! To wit...

Plot point: Michelle and BLT. Degrassi Junior High. February 20, 1989.

Not an issue: Lucy and Clutch. Degrassi Junior High. February 27, 1989.
posted by Sys Rq at 6:28 PM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]




Fizz writes "- Ross & Joey both dated Charlie - I think 5 or 6 episodes before she disappeared. [Friends]"

Charlie was in 9 episodes. Which makes sense since she was the short term girlfriend of two main cast members and most short termers get 3-5 episodes.
posted by Mitheral at 6:40 PM on April 23, 2012


On a totally unrelated note, I just learned that I went to high school with a woman was a contestant. Oh boy.
posted by Hop123 at 6:44 PM on April 23, 2012


Covert Affairs has a major subplot with an Indian dude and his white dad, with no explanation. Which is really confusing if you're half-watching the show and can't figure out the relationship. Also, the male lead is a kickass blind spy.
posted by miyabo at 7:41 PM on April 23, 2012


I take issue with the Salon article's characterization of The Bachelor as the "most sentimental" of reality shows. Based on the handful of episodes that I saw during the early seasons, it struck me as a coldly-calculated cross between a Harlequin formula-romance and The Prisoner. The degree to which the producers manipulate the emotions of the contestants (and the less-wary viewers at home) would be borderline-unethical if it were being done as a psychological experiment.
posted by Strange Interlude at 7:41 PM on April 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


My fiance watches this purely for the sake of deconstructing all the horrible disgusting shit that goes on constantly throughout the show. I'm sure it's racist, but it's also every other goddamn thing that is wrong with America. It is a show with zero redeeming qualities.

The Bachelor: probably racist, definitely awful.
posted by Scientist at 11:38 PM on April 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


My family has only caught the last bit of The Bachelor on occasion because it creeps into the first few minutes of Castle. I tend to use it as a lesson for my daughter, who is about to turn 14.

"Would you put up with that crap?" I ask.
"Oh heck, NO, Mom! Those gals are dumb!" she replies.
"Why are they dumb? They might be getting the guy of their dreams."
A lot of eye-rolling from my daughter, and "Holy crap, Mom, are you not paying attention? He's getting to make out with how many of them a day and they're all hating each other. Also, who dresses like that?" says my girl.
"I'm very proud of you. Keep on with that." says me.

My son, who just turned 15, says something like, "Why is this on right now? Beckett is so much cooler, even though they have her wearing those stupid shoes when she is supposed to be a smart cop." (Yes, I know the actress is gorgeous, etc, but still. He's paying attention. Also, we're all Firefly fans.)

I'll tell you, it makes me proud to be their mom when we have these casual conversations about stupid TV.

If women of color, curly hair, and intelligence are too proud to bother to audition for The Bachelor, I'm absolutely fine with that. Good for them for being smart.
posted by lilywing13 at 12:49 AM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


As far as advertising goes, the media expert that NPR interviewed on this lawsuit pointed out that ads are actually well ahead of programming when it comes to racial inclusiveness. So Bilabial out seems the advertisers are aware of the issue, but they don't have as much direct control as you think they do.
posted by happyroach at 6:36 PM on April 23 [1 favorite +] [!]


I disagree that the advertisers are ahead of television. And I doubly disagree that their hands are tied. Without sufficient advertising dollars, shows do not get made, they do not stay on the air if they fail to attract viewership. I think they are behind it, propping it up.

Now, what is considered 'sufficient' for a given time slot or network certainly varies. But it is undoubtedly a major factor.

I believe that having diverse spots does a few things for advertisers. First, it lets them say, 'we're sorry the shows are passively (or overtly) racist. We clearly care about all equality issues, as you can see in these 16 interracial/gay positive/whatever montages of greed and lust and fear. But we don't make television shows. We just make the ads.'

Second, it allows advertisers to simultaneously not freak out their potentially skittish consumer base. 'Sure, we include black actors sometimes, but we're still representing wholesome, mainstream America. It's not like we're buying time on Al Qaeda English. Amirite?'

I believe we call this 'having your cake and eating it, too.'
posted by bilabial at 5:26 AM on April 24, 2012


Also, we're all Firefly fans.

Another interracial couple, Wash and Zoe!
posted by Talez at 12:26 PM on April 24, 2012


Also, we're all Firefly fans.

Another interracial couple, Wash and Zoe!

Sonuvabich, Talez. That never even occurred to me until you mentioned it. Wow. Yay - I'm actually becoming more colorblind as I grow older.
posted by IAmBroom at 12:51 PM on April 25, 2012


I was going to mention it but it wasn't black man - white woman which was the focus of the original statement
posted by Mitheral at 6:24 PM on April 25, 2012


- Shawn dating Angela, all of one season I believe. [Boy Meets World]

Actually, Angela was Shawn's only real love interest in the show. They dated for like the whole 5th season, and on and off for the last 2 seasons.

Just sayin'.
posted by antifuse at 7:02 AM on May 22, 2012


Mitheral, yeah, but that's what is even more awesome about it - it's the statistically less likely combination IRL, and accompanied by a reversal of the expected power dynamic - she's his superior in the ship hierarchy - and, while I noticed the latter, I didn't notice the former. And Joss rules for writing it in.
posted by IAmBroom at 10:47 AM on May 22, 2012


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