I could be paranoid (though it still doesn’t automatically make me wrong) but…
Sometimes…I get a nagging feeling that Scandal is going to become too much about “Quinn” so that more White women will watch the show, since many won’t or haven’t, because the lead, “Olivia Pope” is a Black woman, played by Kerry Washington. Like…just seeing the #whoisquinn hashtag on Twitter makes me anxious.
I love the variety of cases the team gets, but that so far, it’s primarily wrapped around “Olivia.” Just looking at the tweets with various Scandal-related hashtags, the blogosphere and in-person conversations, many of the die hard fans are Black women.
Black women have no scripted dramas to watch, where a Black woman is the lead character, other than Scandal. We barely appear in any comedies (and when we do, it is as archetypes that are limiting and 1-dimensional versus dynamic characters. I haven’t seen a Black woman in a great comedy since the 90s.) We’re represented in a few chaotic or tasteless reality shows based on lifestyles. Other than Tia & Tamera, which isn’t chaotic or tasteless in my opinion, I haven’t found any that I like…nor do I watch any of these type of reality shows with Whites casted either. Most in this genre are horrible.
Black women are cut more than 90% of the time from talent/competition/ability reality shows (I recently saw the last Black woman cut from So You Think You Can Dance long before any Black men, and Barbie was cut from Hell’s Kitchen). Black women and girls don’t appear enough in commercials, and when we do, it’s often as horrible stereotypes that actually distract from the product being sold in the first place. (I track commercials that I like that include Black women.) I can literally count how many Black women will appear in my fall lineup.
So…if I’m worried that “Olivia’s” presence will be focused on the truth of who “Quinn” is, and possibility reduce her impact or on-screen time…it’s not coming out of nowhere. Maybe it’s not paranoia at all.
Obviously I love shows with diverse casts, and many of my favorite shows and films over time haven’t had any Black women in them. But unlike White people (or even Black men at times), I can’t turn on the TV and automatically expect to see anyone who looks like me. It’s not unreasonable or bigoted to want a single show to be primarily about a Black woman character.
I’ll…just have to wait and see. The season 2 premiere is on September 27th at 10:00pm on ABC. I hope that yet another show that I like isn’t altered into something else, or cancelled.