Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Black Friends and Obama Mamas...
A little warning...plot points are revealed below, so if you're spoiler sensitive, don't read on.
Ryan Murphy's ears must be psychic. Clearly they anticipated the scorching they would be forced to endure over all the tongue-clicking and keyboard clatter that The New Normal was shall we say, lacking in color. Last night episode "Obama Mama" tackled politics and race, but only time will tell if the latter becomes a permanent part of the show or simply a "see we're diverse!" one-off.
It all started when a discussion about politics evolved into one about the politics of race. After learning Bryan and David tried to sway Goldie towards team Obama, Grandma Nana charges into their house and tells them mind their own business--all while spouting the obligatory anti-gay quips of course. Nana gets the last tee hee hee though when she says the boys are hypocrites for being pro-Obama liberals while not having any black friends themselves; of course her digs about Kwanzaa and the homies prove she does hold racist views, but that's, you know, the whole point of her un-PC character, so movin' on.
Bryan gives much eye-roll as he tries to prove he and David are progressive gays, which for him means inviting Rocky and what he assumes are a bevy of sistahs to an impromptu soiree. People making assumptions seemed to be a running theme; Bryan assumed Rocky only had black friends; Bryan and David assume since Goldie was a teen mom she knows zilch about prenatal care or nutrition; everyone assuming Rocky's brother Clint is a Democrat because he's black; Goldie assuming since she moved she has more control over her life.
But back to lecture at hand. Things get more cringe-worthy when Bryan procures "the help" in this case a waiter/actor, to pose as a longtime friend to deceive Nana. Though he does get points for encouraging him to pose as upper crust and not go ghetto/90's era Law & Order like said waiter/actor originally planned (another assumption on the waiter/actor's part). And speaking of The Help, nice chocolate pie reference from Rocky to Grandma Nana. While I would still prefer an actual actress, I will concede Nene's...Neneness was toned down in this episode.
The dinner party quickly becomes a political debate, also driving home the episode's other point that the personal is political. Grandma Nana nails this when she goes on a rant about taking away her daughter's, a.k.a Goldie's mom's, choice to have an abortion as way for her to learn personal responsibility. The bitch may be bigoted, but she's consistent and real about it. Of course, one could argue that her daughter's choice to have an abortion would be a responsible act, but you know Nana doesn't wanna hear that hogwash.
Things only get worse when Goldie bails after Nana puts her business about her crumbling marriage on front street. Not the best thing for the cute guy you've been flirting with all night (Clint) to find out. Later on she reveals her soon to be ex-husband is suing her for custody and Shania has to go back to Ohio; this could be a very interesting plot twist, being that she's pregnant with two dudes' baby and all. Her ex could probably raise the argument an unfit mom, carrying a child for the gays and all. But the lesson for this week is diversity, which Bryan and David start to grasp after they meet an interracial couple and bond over being expectant parents. After which the interracial couple walks away, thrilled they can add two queens their circle.
And that's all folks. It was nice to see Bryan and David make a real connection with the couple rather than get away with their ruse of a party. Though like I said at the beginning, only time will tell if non-white characters other than Nene play a larger role in the series. Amir would be a good start, since he's been part of the cast from the beginning.
While watching this, another thought came to mind: are we as black/minority viewers hypocrites? I mean, we call out shows like Friends or Will & Grace or The New Normal for not showing black characters, but how many major white characters were/are there on The Cosby Show, A Different World, Girlfriends, Martin, Let's Stay Together or the multitude of Tyler Perry projects? Are we holding up an unfair double standard? Or should the level of diversity be held by a show to show basis?
After all the only black faces you saw on the first seasons of Mad Men were maids, bathroom attendants and janitors. But since the show focuses on a certain group of people in a specific era (i.e. upper class white folks in the sixties) it made sense, given their social status and age, that Don or Betty wouldn't be interacting much with black people. I'd love to see Dawn have a bigger role in season six; but I don't want to see some wack, forced interaction like Don going to a sit-in with her or Megan suddenly getting an urge to hang out with her in Harlem. It has to be organic.
Meanwhile, Breaking Bad has featured black, Latino and Asian characters at various points since the series started. Which makes sense, given that crime draws all types of people, and Walter is dealing with major Mexican cartels and such. Now whether you like seeing blacks, Asians and Latinos portrayed as players in the meth game is whole other can of worms.
What do you think? Watch the episode below and Discuss.