Black People \ television

There’s No Universal Way To Be Black

HBO 'Insecure' Panel at the TCA Summer Press Tour, Day 3, Los Angeles, USA - 30 Jul 2016
Mandatory Credit: Photo by Rob Latour/Variety/REX/Shutterstock (5810011a) Issa Rae HBO ‘Insecure’ Panel at the TCA Summer Press Tour, Day 3, Los Angeles, USA – 30 Jul 2016


My favorite mantra is “black people are not a monolith”, so I am happy to see Issa Rae address that in her TCA panel about her new HBO show, “Insecure”.

There is a “notion that there’s a universal way to be black,” Rae said at today’s TCAshow panel. “It’s been portrayed throughout media and has been accepted by mainstream media, [but] what does that mean if you’re not ‘black enough?’ Does that mean that I don’t fit into this box? I always find the humor in that because you can’t escape being black – it’s who you are.”


Backlash To ‘Girls’ Backlash

I have had it up to here (Imagine me at the 5ft marker of a pool) of the articles and blog posts about new HBO show, ‘Girls‘. Across the internet, the creative class is up in arms. I suspect that someone has a Lena Dunham voodoo doll and is poking her via the other hole. Their complaints are many but mostly trite. It doesn’t represent the diversity of New York. The characters are trust funders. It is a not a realistic portrait of young women.

Whatever! How can anyone hitch their hopes and dreams to one show? The cast of the ‘Girls’ reminds me of the band members of The Strokes. They are the scion of rich creatives.

Why the haterade? Is it because Lena is only 25? Is the outrage derivative of the Occupy Wall Street movement? Do people hate rich people so much? I am not implying that Dunham is a one percenter, but there is more class tension today then there was during The Gilded Age, but back then there was no blogs, twitter and other ephemera. Does nepotism still bother people? No one gets success by doing it alone and if you have family that can help, then so be it. Americans are not pioneers and this is not the wild west. Bootstrapping is some antiquated idea that I doubt even Clarence Thomas believes anymore.

I am not defending the show, mainly because it so ridiculously mediocre and none of the girls are likeable except for the Asian girl who drinks Vitamin Water and knows Photoshop. She would totally be my friend.


me \ television

Darkest Before The Dawn

Last night’s episode of "Mad Men" showcased two new employees. Dawn is the new secretary for Don who is basically an affirmative action hire that happened because of a want ad that "blackfired". It is funny that her name is Dawn since it would make watercooler chatter interesting for people besides Harry Crane. While I don’t expect "Three’s Company" hijinks to ensue; I have a feeling Don and Dawn’s names might get mistaken for each other in a subtle way. Roger Sterling’s joke, "darkest before the Dawn" went over like a lead balloon and Peggy ignored it as they were talking about the new copy writer.

The other new hire is Michael Ginsburg who came off as so stereotypically Jewish that even my friend David rolled his eyes. He was anxious and weird during his interview with Peggy. Hopefully his character will be more developed as the season goes and he gets a better wardrobe.

I feel for Roger Sterling when he asks, "When will things get back to normal?".

Michele Norris of NPR was prescient when she said in an interview that the country today is most racial, not "post racial".

I don’t know about this "new normal". Talking about race requires nuance that can’t be easily storyboarded and slapped on an ad.

Judge lest you not be judged.

Sent from my Android,
Nichelle Stephens


Hints of Color on Network TV

While Shonda Rhimes, creator of “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Private Practice” gets most of the attention as being one of the few African American women working behind the scenes on network TV today, she is not the only one.

Nichelle Tramble is an author (The Dying Ground, The Last King) as well as writer for a new hospital drama on NBC, Mercy. I am big fan of this show personally and I recommend checking the latest episode on Hulu.

Mara Brock Akil, the creative force behind “Girlfriends” and “The Game” is now working on ABC’s “Cougar Town”.

Angela Nissel is the bestselling author of The Broke Diaries and her memoir Mixed. She also was co-producer and writer on “Scrubs” and consulting producer on “Til Death”.

Update: My friend told me about Millicent Shelton who directed episodes “Everybody Hates Chris”, “Cougartown and “Parks and Recreation”.


Oh Sheila

iPhone: Checkerboard Chic, originally uploaded by Dyna Moe.

If you watch “Mad Men” then you know about Sheila, the cashier from New Jersey who was Pretentious Paul Kinsey’s girlfriend this season on Mad Men. Now that the season is over, I thought about their short-lived relationship. If you didn’t watch the show, then you may find all this boring, but bare with me.

The interesting thing about the relationship was not just that it was both an interracial and interclass relationship. Paul worked as a creative in advertising agency and Sheila probably made even less than whatever minimum wage was in 1962. They went to Mississippi together to participate in the Civil Rights Movement, but Sheila broke up him with not longer after. [Smart girl] Even though it is 2008, it is still rare that people date both outside of their race and social class. I have dated men who were both, and it can work as long don’t solely identify yourself by your race, ethnicity or how much money you make. I may be rambling on about a show that is fictionally set at a time before I was even born, but it just seems that things have not changed that much in 46 years. It is comforting and disturbing at the same time. Are we ready for change? I really hope so.



Last night my friend invited me to a free screening of “Iron Jawed Angels”, a HBO film. This screening was for the New York Women in Film and Television.

Now that I don’t have cable or even a TV, this was a treat to see! The film is about Alice Paul, a suffragist who fearlessly paved the way for the 19th amendment that granted women the right to vote.

Before the screening, there was a reception where I drank half a glass of red wine and planned to do some schmoozing with women in film. Ironically, the only person I chatted with was an older man who asked me what’s the best way to spread hummus on a pita without using fingers or cutlery. I suggested using another pita slice to do the spreading!