Image: A seafoam green television from the past, the Braun HF 1. From Wikipedia.
TelevIsm is a series about currently airing television shows. I imposed this parameter on myself so that I would not post endlessly about shows that I love that are gone, like Battlestar Galactica and King of the Hill (an excellent show that the brilliant Snarky's Machine and I turn the discussion to in a few comment sections round these parts.) But today, I thought I'd shift the conversation to the future: the 2010-2011 network television season.
Undercovers is an NBC spy show about a married couple of former spies who get back into the business. It's a show that I'm excited to watch: it looks like fun, funny, interesting action brain-candy. A high-profile show with two heroic black leads in which the woman doesn't look like she's always being rescued is really enticing. The preview passes the Johnson test, with the two black leads discussing their relationship and business. Furthermore, JJ Abrams is never a deterrent – the pilot of Lost is one of the best episodes of TV I've ever seen. I'm a little less excited, though, about, the uninspired casting of an old white dude as their boss, and the sure-to-be-pervasive device using the wife's body for "sexpionage".
Outsourced is a comedy about a (white) middle manager who manages an outsourcing call center in India. Why isn't an Indian person managing the call center if the company is so concerned with outsourcing, you may ask? I don't really know, but my guess is: no white people = no TV show! The preview is rife with problems, including a comparison of India to the game Frogger, plenty of "OH NOES YOUR NAME IS NOT USIAN, HOW WILL I EVER PRONOUNCE IT?" , and ridiculing of sartorial traditions such as saris. Oh, and did I mention that the characters of color are mostly not given last names? I will probably be watching this, since it is placed during my weekly block of NBC Thursday night television, but I'm not excited.
Nikita is a CW action show about a rogue assassin trying to take down her former employers because they killed her lover. Another woman of color working independently and as a heroic action hero is intriguing, but I'm concerned with the objectification and the heteronormativity of a lost love being her motivating factor. I don't think I'll make an effort to watch it, but I'll be interested in reading what other write about it.
Mike and Molly is a CBS sitcom about a fat couple. There is a distinct lack of people of size on television, but that doesn't mean that any depiction is awesome, and this looks pretty reductionist. I'm going to direct you to Melissa McEwan's coverage of it:
It is painful to watch—the tight grins masking swallowed indignities, offered ostensibly as a show of good humor, but in reality an indispensable self-defense mechanism, an emotional coat of the thinnest armor, precariously insulating one against the intolerable bullying that a careless display of vulnerability invites.
Visit Shakesville for the transcript and video.
When I read about Hellcats, the drama about cheerleading on the CW this fall, I was intrigued. Cheerleading is trivialized as a sport in part because it's seen as supplementary rather than competitive and because it's so identified with women and femininity. Cheerleading is problematic, but I'm interested by it, and I'd like to see a show that presents women's athletics as valid. But this starts off its preview by mocking these athletes and joking about beheading cheerleaders, and then shifts to the lead character belittling the idea of cheerleading. There's also some cissexism that I'm not loving in the preview, with a crack about some woman's Adam's Apple. Still, this is the only preview I watched in my research that passed the Bechdel test, through a conversation between several cheer captains on the merits of the lead character.
There are a few other shows I'm interested in coming up this fall – I like that Chase is continuing the trend of female action stars, I'm disappointed in the mostly-whitewashed appropriation of Ramzor, the Supreme Court geek in me is excited about Jimmy Smits' show Outlaw. I'm hoping for some new favorite shows to take the pressure off my recently departed favorites or the shows that I think are drawing to a close; I'm hoping for more shows that surprise me than disappoint me.
What new series are you looking forward to? What new series are you dreading?