12 October 2010 0 Comments

Where are the black TV shows? Roles for minority actors at an all-time high, but programs in decline

Image: Scene from "Are We There Yet?"
With the premiere of sitcom “Are We There Yet?” on Wednesdays at 9, the TBS is currently airing three sitcoms with black casts from 8-11 p.m.
The broadcast networks have made great strides in recent years by diversifying the faces we see on primetime TV, a momentum that carries into new and returning shows on the 2010-11 schedule.

But it’s a scattershot success. At the moment, the number of scripted, live-action shows on broadcast television with all-black (or predominantly minority, for that matter) casts is exactly zero.

Just not all on the same screen. The irony is in the past three decades, when a lack of minorities on TV was a measurable problem, programs with an African-American focus were in abundance: “The Jeffersons,” “Sanford & Son,” “Good Times,” “The Cosby Show,” “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air,” “A Different World,” “Family Matters,” “Martin,” “Living Single,” “The Hughleys,” “The Bernie Mac Show,” “Everybody Hates Chris” … the list goes on and on.

Only NBC’s “Cosby” was a true crossover phenomenon — but each had a measure of success to illustrate that black shows have a place on the networks.

And ad-supported cable doesn’t fare much better, with TBS — which premiered “Are We There Yet?” on Wednesday night — standing head and shoulders above everyone in the genre.

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