Bettenridge’s law of headlines dictates that “Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no.” In the case of whether or not J.R. R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth is a fantasy land that has space for people of colour, it’s unfortunately not that simple.
The full title for the television series taking place in the same universe as the critically acclaimed The Lord of the Rings was announced just this past month, with The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power acting as a prequel set thousands of years before the original trilogy of films. Soon after followed 23 individual posters featuring the hands of different characters, a startling development for those who hadn’t been closely following casting news for the show.
As briefly discussed in my first post this year, there’s nothing more emblematic of our present-day culture than division and polarization. With every announcement decisions must be made and opinions cemented, dictating what side of any particular issue you find yourself on. To say that the same is true for the existence of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, [and] People of Colour) in a historically lily-white franchise is putting it lightly. The following tweet made by the amusingly named (at the time of this writing) “guy online” highlights the conflict accordingly:
Knowing this is the case and having these camps laid out in such stark contrast makes it awkward for me to admit that I’ve found myself in a place where I’m also side-eyeing production for casting actors of colour in various roles, a sentiment that on the surface places me in some admittedly unpleasant company. Let me explain- Continue reading →
On January 7th, 2019, at 8 PM (7 PM Central), ABC premiered the 23rd season of perennial reality TV favourite The Bachelor. Starring ex-NFL tight end Colton Underwood, this latest installment also held the promise of following Revian Chang, an Asian contestant, and her own search for love. It was a search that ended at roughly 11 PM (8 PM Central) that very same evening.
It was an event that I couldn’t pass up covering, and Revian somehow found the article I had written and reached out to thank me via email. After the weeks it took me to finally ask her to do a short interview she graciously agreed, opening up on her short stint on the show and what it meant to be a Chinese woman on the historically very white show.
I didn’t know anyone who also applied for my same season. However, I was friends with a few previous contestants prior to applying.
In an interview with NPR Chris Harrison said that they “don’t get the same cross-section of casting,” specifically referring to the fact that there aren’t as many non-white applicants to the show as white applicants. He went on to say that “[minorities] don’t see themselves represented on television. They don’t see themselves represented equally. And so I would assume, ‘Why would I be going to do this if I don’t see myself there anyway?’” Do you agree with that?
I can understand the assumption as to “why would I do this if I’m not being represented, and if I am represented…it’s not equally,” and rejection or misinterpretation are both scary. But if we continue to assume this, then minorities continue to have a lack of representation.
I went in knowing that most contestants and viewers of The Bachelor are white. I didn’t allow it to scare me off. I think I wasn’t scared because I am confident and happy in who I am. And if a major network show were to cast me, I hoped I would be a good representation for a minority group.
As I write this #BachelorNation, millions of viewers strong, is wrapping up the second episode of the 23rd season of The Bachelor. Having said that, let’s cut to the chase: I’m watching The Bachelor again (though I have not resurrected my meme instagram account)! In all seriousness, the actual chase being cut to is this: there’s a Chinese girl on Colton’s season!
As a quick aside, there have been other Asian women on The Bachelor, and vastly more than the number of Asian men on sister show The Bachelorette. Those contestants, mentioned in past race-relatedBachelor posts, have (to my knowledge) all been mixed race (and always with one white parent). All of a sudden here we are, 17 years after the show has premiered, and we have Revian Chang.
For the uninitiated, “ABG” stands for “Asian Baby Girl”, which Urban Dictionary helpfully defines as a “Cuteasian girl looks like aecinira on twitch.” Which is helpful to some readers, probably. The post was edited soon afterwards to reveal the reason for the title of this post: Revian never made it past the first night.
Way back in early 2012 I posted a three-part series about two sitcoms that had premiered the previous fall. Covering 2 Broke Girls‘ and New Girl‘s respective casts, styles of humour, and approaches to race, these posts exist as a window into their first seasons as well as an unfortunate snapshot of some embarrassingly unrefined writing from yours truly [with some unrefined opinions as well, as my perspective on Morgan Freeman and Black History Month has certainly shifted since then].
All credit where it’s due, both have come a long way since their inceptions, and in generally positive ways. While not shying away from their trademark “classy-dirty” style of comedy, 2 Broke Girls eased off of the racist humour and began giving their secondary cast members more screen time and character development. New Girl had Hannah Simon’s Cece join the primary cast, with Damon Wayans Jr. even returning for a lengthy stint after his departure following the pilot. I feel fairly confident in saying that neither show every truly dipped in quality, which is saying a lot for the medium and genre they share. I would even go so far as to say that both managed to improve with each passing season.
Now, in 2017, there were a few weeks where the fate of these two sitcoms was in question. To address them consecutively…
2 Networkless Girls?
After months of reviews in which I mused on the future of the show I finally penned a post in April asking “Is 2 Broke Girls Cancelled?”. It has since garnered more comments than anything else on this blog. In it I catalogued what the creators and industry insiders had to say about its future, as well as my personal opinion as someone who has reviewed 101 episodes of the show. I felt like, as someone who stuck with 2 Broke Girlslonger than the contributors to its very own wiki even did I was allowed some say.
It was Deadline that pulled back the curtain on the fact that CBS was airing a sitcom that was produced for Warner Bros. That same outlet also broke the news that the network had axed 2 Broke Girls. CBS scheduling director Kelly Kahl is quoted as saying that, as far as she knows:
“it was a creative decision more than anything else. It was not a show we own but we picked up (new comedy series Me, Myself & I and By The Book) from Warner Bros. So I don’t think it was a business decision, I think it was creatively we felt it was time.”
It’s noted that the show made Warner Bros. a very significant amount of money per episode. In spite of being a key players in their weekday lineup, CBS appears to be searching for something else they can wholly own, distribute, and profit from. Kahl even says in the same breath as “was not a show [they owned]” that it was “a creative decision”, but as with all art it comes down to profits. Continue reading →
There’s no other way of putting it. Being critically panned doesn’t matter at all if people are watching, but all indicators point to this not being the case. Now granted, the numbers presented are via The Nielsen Company, and don’t account for any viewers who may choose to stream the show online, but they provide a fairly compelling picture all things considering.
Here’s what the creators have said:
Now pretty much every site out there covering this has quoted this one TVLine article, but given that Michelle Nader is the co-showrunner it’s about as close to the horse’s mouth as you can get. She made the statement that:
“This is not the end for these girls. We’re not finished and we don’t want to be finished and I don’t think the audience is finished. Obviously there’s no guarantee that we will be back, but we did not write the episode as a series finale.”
While both that show and its spinoff, The Bachelorette, have never had stellar track records as far as racial diversity, things came to a head when Jubilee Sharpe, the final Black contestant remaining, was eliminated on the first day of February [AKA Black History Month]. Cue soundbites from higher-ups that “[they’re] doing a whole lot of tweaks”. Not that that’s anything new, as a lengthy interview that NPR conducted with host Chris Harrison back in 2015 reveals they’ve long been aware of the issue, and that they want to do something about it. Harrison also used the exact words “we really tried” after surmising that a previous previous star was “1/16th Cherokee Indian”, if that’s any indication of what we might expect.
Those of you who follow both shows will be well-aware of the events that took place at the beginning of this week, but before I get into that I want to fill in the gaps between that last post and this one.
So, What Happened After Ben’s Season?
The cyclical nature of franchise means that the The Bachelor premieres every January, with The Bachelorette following not too long afterwards in May. ABC Entertainment Group president Paul Lee, the man who hinted at the “tweaks” up above, also told reporters at the time that:
“I’d be very surprised if ‘The Bachelorette’ in the summer isn’t diverse. I think that’s likely”
He also made reference to something called the “farm team” which a) I recently found out is sports terminology and has nothing to do with animals or actual farms and b) is the term for the contestants featured on each season of The Bachelor or The Bachelorette. Variety notes that the norm is for the next Bacheloron [a gender neutral term for the star of either program that I took from an article I’ll link to later] to be from the previous season’s “farm team”. With that in mind both fans and critics of the franchise saw the 12th season of The Bachelorette as the perfect opportunity to make that much-needed change. Continue reading →