By: Twitter Buttons

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Cancelled, Cancelled, Cancelled!

My buddy Broadband over at The Wider Perspective wrote a very interesting piece on the disappearance of black sitcoms both over in the States and here in the UK. Check it out!

Beating me to the post (ha ha get it) as I was gonna write on a similar issue following the cancellation of The Game and Everybody Hates Chris, I just had to comment on his page giving my two cents, so I hope he doesn't mind me re-posting.

Mayne, this was gonna be my weekend post! But I will speak on it anyway by commenting.
I agree with the whole primary/secondary network theory. I think execs want to play it safe and not risk losing their viewers, especially if they are unsure how an 'ethnic sitcom' will be received. But it's a catch 22 situation because without taking a risk, how will they know whether they are missing out on a hit? In these harsh economic times especially for the broadcast industry due to the lack of finance via advertising, it's worrying that things are not going to change any time soon - playing it safe and sticking to a 'sure-thing' is seen as the most economically sound option. Also, what is the incentive to commission and run an 'ethnic' sitcom? Scrubs, 30 Rock etc resonate with a range of different communities. Moving slightly away from sitcoms, how many Black, Asians, Chinese people watched Sex & The City, Friends or are addicted to Desperate Housewives? Many, but those programmes featured no ethnic lead characters. They were just good programmes. Therefore, is there a need for specialist and targeted programming when a programme with mass appeal touches all bases? Playing the devil's advocate here, but this is what execs may be thinking so again I ask, what is the incentive?
I think a revolution is needed -I apologise for the theatrical tone but we need something fresh, a new format aside from the typical Eve's, Half and Half's and The Game. I was at a Ghanaian Union function not too long ago - gotta keep in touch with the culture people - and something one of the elders said stayed with me. There are so many smaller unions and inspiring individuals that are all doing great things to represent Ghana, however they are not doing it collectively - it's too fragmented so no one union can make the impact that they intend to. So in that same spirit, I think what is needed is a more collective approach....(Lightbulb!!!!) Power and strength in numbers people, combine creativity and business sense then maybe we can give the networks something worth taking notice of.
L.Mayne, I'll be in touch...

I think it's time I stopped talking and put some things into motion. What do you guys think, is there a need for ethnic programmes? Is the whole idea of ethnic targeting redundant anyway? Are you attracted to programmes, products, services because they appeal to your ethnicity or to you as an individual.

Speak on it!



  1. Ooooh this is so interesting!! I am really divided on this topic. First of all I am totally gutted that Everybody Hates Chris has been cancelled, it was an amazing and original show that everyone whether Black, Asian or white could enjoy. In terms of there being a need for ethnic programming, if you had asked me this question ten years ago I would have said yes right away. However, I think things have changed since then and pop culture is much more mainstream. I do think the issue is not the programming but the marketing and attitude of the TV execs. A programme like Everybody Hates Chris should not really be seen as an 'ethnic' programme and treated as a minority. It should be on a major channel and aired on prime time. I guess we still have a long way to go to change people's attitudes.

  2. Totally with you. Yes, I think that there should be a greater representation of people from different cultures on television but by putting programmes into the 'ethnicity box' you are limiting it's potential to appeal to a wider audience. I think it's down to the concept, the script and quality of acting. Living in Britain especially, its about MULTICULTRALISM - which is a loose and controversial phrase in itself. What I mean when I use this term is that things are no longer black & white - literally. I don't only hang around with or work with people that are the same ethnicity as me. In my life I interact with people from a range of different cultures and religions and this integration is what should be recognised. I can't speak for the U.S and some people may argue against this idea of intergration and challenge that people are just tolerant rather than integrated - another topic altogether! What I am trying to say is that diversty is key here, having a token white person in black programme is not going to work, the same way having a token black person will not work either. Heroes, is a programme that did it, Lost aswell, so there is evidence that multi-cultural casting/programming can be successful.

    Having a black cast and labellng a programme as one for the 'black community' are two separate things. Tyler Perry has shown that all-black cast films can be successful with great acting and a quality script but he ensures that the topics that are addressed transcend beyond just the black community. People need to realise that if they want to target entertainment to a specific community, then they are creating a niche offering - and in that very description, it will never be mainstream or as successful as hits like Friends and 30 Rock.

    I think I am done...but will probably have some more thoughts on this later.



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