TelevIsm: Upcoming shows and how they may or may not be awesome

Rachel McCarthy-James
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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?

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14 Comments Have Been Posted


re: Outsourced - it is based on an indie film of the same name which focuses on a call center manager who is told that they are outsourcing the call center work to India and the manager is asked to go to India to train his replacement. I thought the film was fairly interesting and sweet. I am interested, yet also scared, to see what the television-transition does to the story/characters.

Thanks for the info! That

Thanks for the info! That seems less problematic to me since it's about going to train a replacement rather than just focusing indefinitely on the white dude. I'll definitely watch it for a little while since it's right after my beloved Office.

Also, some outsource outfits

Also, some outsource outfits in India hire a few western employees to help them interface with their western clients--while I definitely agree that there is pervasive racism on American TV, this may only incidentally be an example of it.

Although if the producers wanted some culture class shenanigans, it's true they could have gone for an American born person of Indian descent and probably mined as much humor from that as from a whilte guy,

Oh, I hadn't thought of it

Oh, I hadn't thought of it from that perspective. Hmm. I doubt the show will go in any direction but pretty much blatantly racist, though.

Ew, fatphobia

"Mike and Mindy" looks so stupid. The two main (and fat) characters meet at an "Overeaters Anonymous" meeting, every other joke is a dieting/fat joke, and there are a bunch of scenes of the two fat characters eating/lusting after food. Cliches and lazy writing, ahooy!

That show is going to be horrible. It's not just offensive to bigger people, it's offensive to anyone with taste.

One of my college buddies is

One of my college buddies is an aspiring television writer in LA. She's got a great script about a lady of size working in a plus-size women's store (something she did for many years), and I just think - why can't <i>that</i> kind of script represent fat women in television? A story about fat people working and being fashionable and attractive and having jobs.

I bet this show has some kind of conceit in which they eventually lose a ton of weight. Ugh.

Nikita sounds like the one

Nikita sounds like the one on USA television from a couple a years ago. Most of these shows look like hot buttered awful.

"In real life as in Grand Opera, Arias only make hopeless situations worse." - Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

It was apparently based on a

It was apparently based on a '97 TV show and '90 French film. And yeah, I'm not too encouraged. I liked Undercovers the first time I heard about it, but the more I watch the trailer the more opportunities I see for failure.

Undercovers looks uninspired

Undercovers looks uninspired and probably will be propped up by the overly hyped LOLA (Law & Order: Los Angeles). The networks are really struggling with generating engaging content. They've invested too heavily in reality programming and it seems all the dramas and sitcoms (of better quality) had migrated to cable and now that those shows have gotten used to the freedom they have on cable, it's unlikely they'll see broadcast tv as desirable anymore.

The other thing is all the aging shows (Grey's, Private Practice, SVU, CSI, House, ) that are looking worse for wear these days. I am predicting one of them is going to fall in the upcoming season.

ABC's <a href="">fall lineup</a> is riddled with bland offerings with casting choices that are hilarious in their "sameness". They also seem to be pushing a Bones knock off called "Body of Proof". and some kind of Freaks and Geeks/Glee hybrid called "My Generation".

*shakes head*

But True Blood is back and that should keep me yelling at the TV for a good 13 or so weeks. (in a good way)

"In real life as in Grand Opera, Arias only make hopeless situations worse." - Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

"Mike and Molly"

My first thought reading your description was, "Oh god, are they in fat suits?!" That doesn't seem to be the case, so that's something, I suppose, but after watching the trailer at Shakesville, it's one of the only pluses I can see thus far.

What really caught my attention was when an actor says that the side (skinny) characters are good people but say the wrong things, and then it cuts to fat jokes with canned laughter. Er...if they're aware that mocking people of size is wrong, why aren't they supplying that message instead of encouraging the audience to join in the mocking? Also, the fat people are all "overeaters;" they all want to lose weight...sigh. As fun as Swoosie Kurtz can be, I think I'll pass.

Plus, just on a superficial level, that's a terrible title. When I hear "<i>Mike and Molly</i>," I immediately think "<i>Mork and Mindy</i>," and I wasn't even alive during its run.

Yeah, it looks extremely

Yeah, it looks extremely under-inspired. The title particularly sucks.

Cheerleading as a sport is

Cheerleading as a sport is actually fought against by the mother of title ix legislation. I saw an episode of Penn and Teller's Bullsh*t where they looked into why cheerleading isn't considered a sport. It's the not so standard mix of corporate interests, schools covering their assetts and liabilities, and some very potentially confused feminists that overlook the athletic prowess equivalent to gymnastic floor routines because of the sexualized nature of the dancing and costumes.

Cheerleading isn't

i guess

I guess i was just high out of my f-ing mind at all those competitions I had to go to during the winter season, and those trophies and awards that I won, that sprained neck that i got from an injury at a competition. You're right...there's no competition at all.

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