I have spent waaaaay too much time lately listening to people debate about depictions of black people via
. Which one is more real? Which is better? Which one helps or hurts the black community more? Whether modern black femininity is more epitomized by Olivia Pope or Cookie Lyon? Is it worse to see Olivia bouncing back between Fitz and Jake or to see Lucious Lyon's overt homophobia?
Someone even went so far to say that
. Oh dear, are we still trying to get one TV show to reflect the entire panoramic experience of Black American lives? Are we still looking to well-written but nonetheless fictional TV shows to accurately depict those lives?
Let's all take a minute, breathe deep and stop.
First of all, this is finely crafted fiction. Acted and directed for entertainment purposes only. If you happen to grab a life lesson here and there from an episode or two... so be it. But let's not act like any of us don't see the good, the bad and the ugly in both of these shows. They are both wonderful and awful.
Let's talk leading ladies - These ladies are really fly in their own way. Cookie is not more "real" than Olivia and Olivia is not "balling harder" than Cookie. I know people who are half Cookie, half Olivia. Coolivia? Olivkie? I know people who are very Cookie with a dollop of Olivia. I know people who are not like either one of them but covet their shoes.
At the end of the day, these are two fictional black women who are come from two different places. Some of their issues (wrong-man-choosing, meeting secretly with law enforcement, family drama, yaki hair laid all the heaven) are the same. Some are very different. They are both complex, complicated and both happen to look good stomping in four inch heels.
But they are not by any means perfect:
Bless their hearts. I don't know about you but I don't know any women who spent 17 years in jail and came out on top. Let alone any who spent 17 years in and less than six months later is a millionaire in a penthouse. Nor do I know any women whose father ran a super secret black ops agency, slept with the President and has 2/3rd of the Washington power players on speed dial.
What I do like about both shows is that they are entertaining (if I overlook the Liv held captive episodes) and bring more to the table that your average TV drama/soap. Like them or not, you do get caught up in the characters' lives. It's escapism at it's best. Music on both shows is top notch. Whether your life has been more Lyon or Pope is for you to decide. I think there's room for both of these shows on the DVRs of all viewers.
Were there articles complaining that
depicted white people in the wrong way or that
Two & a half men
wasn't a realistic depiction of single fatherhood or
wasn't inclusive enough? Different stories, told different ways. The best way to depict them all is to find a way to get all of them on TV. Can we (black folks) celebrate the win of having shows with people that look like us on TV and work to get more?
Let me sidebar two shows that gave me great joy this season:
How to Get Away with Murder
. There have been some scenes with Jenifer Lewis and Laurence Fishborne that are hold-your-sides funny.
And actually, some of the realest "black" moments on TV were between Viola Davis and Cicely Tyson.
That whole episode when Mama came to town was about as real as it gets. But again, fictionalized because not once when my mother was doing my hair back in the day did she confess to murder and arson. LOL! It's TV people.
My point? Besides embedding all the fun gifs - is to say (once again) we are not a monolith. The fun of humanity is in the variety. The fact that we have some things that are common (love, sleep, taxes, the necessity to take in oxygen) and then a whole bunch of stuff that is markedly different. Instead of pitting one experience against the other, why not be glad of the existence of all?
Just a thought. You can go back to debating whether to take Lucious or Huck on a drive by with you now. :-)
Comments, insights? Who is watching which (or both or none) of these shows and why?