On ‘Scandal’…

A couple of days ago I came across PostBourgie’s efforts to breakdown and ‘make sense’* of the television show Scandal. Their latest write up brings up a lot of really great points, ranging from technical (this shit is implausible, yo) to seriously problematic (why are the women only powerful when they are allowed to be by a man?). And, being a the foaming-at-the-mouth-cancel-dinner-dates-with-my-homegirls Scandal fan that I am, I felt the need to explain why, despite some of its issues, I can’t get enough of this show.

First of all, let’s get into the flyness that is Keri Washington. Besides the fact that I have loved her since “Save the Last Dance,” she is showing up and kicking butt on national television. Yeah, her Sally Hemings-ish relationship with Fitz is a little uncomfortable, but I’ll be damned if it aint hot. And after 8.5 hours in a windowless cubicle, sometimes heat is necessary. Additionally, she is the bourgeois woman’s LisaRaye – she finds a way to wear a white/cream/ecru blouse with every outfit, and SLAYS.EVERY.TIME. And her wig is decent. And she lip trembles. I’m here for skinny big-mouthed girls with lots of sass – Jurnee Smollet, Erykah Badu, and me? Olivia Pope.

Speaking of sass, can we also speak of Cyrus? He is a mighty oak tree, offering shade to everyone that dares come for him – Mellie, Liv, even the President. Yes. More epic reads and dressing downs (they’re hilarious). More telling the first lady “I’m a muthafuggin monsta.” More fussin’ and fightin’ with your husband.  More representation of gays on television and more hiring gay actors to play straight characters. More giving random black actresses employment (hey, Elise Neal). More. More. I want more of it.

As a DMV resident it’s also lots of fun to have TV show based in the area because, well, you can recognize the places you walk past every day onscreen. Maybe that’s nothing new for New Yorkers, but for an area as maligned as the DC metro region, it’s nice to have some representation. I’m still waiting for them to go Southeast/Northeast/Alexandria/Maryland, but that’s a whole different conversation.

Maybe it’s that I want to support Shonda Rhimes.** Even though she found crazy success with Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice (which I could never really get into), having a show written by a black woman STARRING a black woman – that isn’t a Basketball Side-Piece or a Fake Housewife – means something. As problematic as Olivia Pope might be, she is still, in my opinion, far better than a lot of representations of black women we see on television. Olivia has a killer wardrobe and is powerful and is vulnerable and kicks ass (even though she’s always called into question by that damn redhead).

Let’s hope that maybe Shonda or her writers hear some of the very valid concerns that PB voiced, especially since they clearly respond to vocal fans. The show is not perfect, but Scandal, in all its soap opera-y, fast-talking, scandalous-ass glory, is still really good to me.  I’m totally here for it.

 

*You can’t make sense of a show like this. You just have to receive it. Just let it wash over you.

**I also bang with Shonda because she signed Issa Rae for a show with ABC. And because Scandal is actually based on the work of a black woman, Judy Smith. She really seems to be trying to put people on, and I LOVE IT!

INFOGRAPHIC: Summer Reading List Based On Your Favorite TV Shows

It’s summer time, and you need a choose a book to read on the side of the pool/at the beach/at your family reunion. Don’t worry, I created a mind map of books based on TV shows for you. This infographic is based on personal reading, suggestions from others, Twitter convos, and a bit of magical thinking.

For those of you who don’t dig infographics, here’s a linked list of all the books below. Let me know what you think!

Colbert Report

Bossy Pants (Tina Fey), 5 Very Good Reasons to Punch a Dolphin in theMouth (And Other Useful Guides) (Matthew Inman), Stuff White People Like (Christian Lander), PostSecret: Extraordinary Secrets from Ordinary Lives (Frank Warren), Found: The Best Lost, Tossed, and Forgotten Items from Around the World (Davy Rothbart)

Modern Family

The Color of Water (James McBride), My Korean Deli (Ben Ryder Howe), Virgin Suicides (Jeffrey Eugenides), OnBeauty (Zadie Smith), The Taste of Salt (Martha Southgate)

Downton Abbey

Middlesex (Jeffrey Eugenides), Salvage The Bones (Jesmyn Ward), Half of a Yellow Sun (Chimamada Ngozi Adichie), Wench: A Novel (Dolen Perkins-Valdez)

Mary, Mary

Church Folk (Michele Andrea Bowen), The Shack (William Young), The Screwtape Letters (C.S. Lewis), The Purpose Driven Life (Rick Warren), Living Buddha, Living Christ (Thich Naht Hanh)

Oprah Winfrey Life Class

The Power of Habit (Charles Duhigg), 5 Love Languages (Gary Chapman), Beneaththe Lion’s Gaze (Maaza Mengiste), State of Wonder (Ann Patchett), The Artist’sWay (Julia Cameron), Back of the Napkin (Dan Roam)

Luther

The Long Fall (Walter Mosley), Leaving Atlanta (Tayari Jones), Darkly Dreaming Dexter (Jeff Lindsay), The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Stieg Larsson), Homicide: AYear on the Killing Streets (David Simon)

Walking Dead

Wild Seed (Octavia Butler), Dhalgren (Samuel Delaney), Pym (Mat Johnson), The Watchmen (Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons), Shades of Memnon (Brother O), A Song of Ice & Fire :Game of Thrones series (George Martin)

Mad Men

Bonfire of the Vanities (Tom Wolfe), Prep (Curtis Sittenfield), Things Fall Apart (Chinua Achebe), 48 Laws of Power (Robert Greene), Why Should White Guys Have All the Fun (Reginald Lewis, Blair Walker)

Awkward Black Girl

How To Be Black (Baratunde Thurston), The Broke Diaries (Angela Nissel), Nappily Ever After (Trisha Thomas), BeforeYou Suffocate Your Own Fool Self (Danielle Evans), The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (Junot Diaz), The Return of Simple (Langston Hughes)

Love + Hip Hop

Coldest Winter Ever (Sister Souljah), Drama is Her MiddleName (Wendy Williams, Karen Hunter), Diamond Life (Aliya S. King), Bling (Erica Kennedy), The Vixen Manual: How to Find, Seduce and Keep the Man You Want (Karrine Steffans)

Melissa Harris-Perry

Drift (Rachel Maddow), Emperor of Ocean Park (Stephen Carter), Black Cool (Rebecca Walker), MalcolmX: A Life of Reinvention (Manning Marable), The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (Rebecca Skloot),The New Jim Crow (Michelle Alexander)

RuPaul’s Drag Race

Giovanni’s Room (James Baldwin), Gotham Diaries (Tonya Lewis Lee, Crystal McCrary Anthony), OutlawMarriages (Rodger Streitmatter), The Commitment (Dan Savage), Seriously I’m Kidding (Ellen DeGeneres), Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? (Jeanette Winterson)

Four (4) Thoughts I’ve Had While Watching Misadventures of an Awkward Black Girl

Picture via Clutch Magazine (clutchmagonline.com)

For the past few months me and most of my friends have been held in rapturous thrall of the “Misadventures of an Awkward Black Girl” webseries, known to stans as ABG. It’s ignorant. It’s funny.  It stars a tall, brown, natural-headed woman. The lead character is not some beweaved hot girl who smacks gum and p-pops on a handstand, but instead a woman who single-handedly revived the Bankhead Bounce. This show is perfection.

For so long intelligent black women have been without a comedic hero. Smart white chicks get Liz Lemon and whatever role Amy Poehler is playing. Hoodrats have Remy Ma and Slews have Superhead. You get the picture. I guess America’s preoccupation our singleness has blinded it to the fact that we can be funny without being fat, sassy, or both. With that said, here are four thoughts I’ve had while watching ABG:

1.  Someone named “Issa Rae” has apparently been living in my head for the past 26 years and hasn’t bothered to let me know until she put out this show.

Word Issa Rae? You just gon’ write a show, that’s completely reflective of my life, and look just like one of my homegirls from college? And be funny and sh*t? Oh ok. *Folds arms.*

2. White J could get it. Continue reading

Mathematical Proof that “Martin” is Better than The Fresh Prince of Bel Air

I have been a fan of the show “Martin” since it’s 1992 debut. Martin is watched at every one of my holiday family gatherings. Instead of talking to each other, we speak in Martin quotes.  As an owner of all the available Martin DVDs, I came up with this mathematical hypothesis that I believe explains the greatness of this show:

If: “Martin” = ∑(Good Times ÷ Sanford & Son) x (√ House Party 1,2&3)³

And: “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air” = Cosby Show + Will Smith

Then: “Martin” > “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air”

Actually:  “Martin” > “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air”> “Jamie Foxx Show”> “Malcolm & Eddie” > “Homeboys from Outer Space”

As proven above, Martin just holds far more comical complexity than the Fresh Prince, which is easily represented with nothing more than a simple addition equation. Although FPOBA may have won more awards and garnered a larger and more diverse following, Martin was actually far funnier because of the following elements:

Characters

Martin Lawrence had an incredible knack for creating original characters. Mama Payne, the infamous Sheneneh, Jerome, Dragon Fly Jones, Ole Otis, the list goes on. The great thing about all of his made up characters were that they were all genuinely funny by themselves.  For the longest time I didn’t know that all of these characters were actually Martin himself, which is a testament to how good he was at becoming someone else completely, something I doubt Will Smith is able to do (since he is the same person in all his movies).

The cast of Martin was great for a completely different reason – because they represent ‘normal’ black people – people who worked hard, who went to college, not rich but not poor, young, in loving and functional relationships. Where in television had that ever been showcased? People might point to the Cosby Show, but the Cosby’s were an upper middle class family with kids.  Good Times was in the hood, and A Different World was a little square (sorry, it’s true).  FPOBA’s characters were wack and wooden; mean Uncle Phil, ditzy Hilary, cornball Carlton (with that stupid dance), and a sassy male butler. Nothing about that is funny, it’s actually insulting. And, how do you change Aunt Viv from a dark brown woman to a lite skint chick in the middle of the show like we wouldn’t notice?!!?. Smh. Continue reading