Is it ‘not realistic’ or just not in your world?
Please stop saying positive black films and TV are unrealistic
“I don’t watch that show,” the 21-year-old brotha told me. “It’s not realistic.”
I raised an eyebrow at him, pondering on what exactly was so unrealistic about ABC’s “Black-ish.” Was it that the grandparents were living with one of their kids? That couldn’t be it. His first cousins had done that for many years. Was it that the kids were well-educated?
That couldn’t be it because the young, black man talking to me was noticeably well-spoken. Was it that the black couple were married? Nope, that wouldn’t work either because his own mother had just gotten married that same year. I’d worked in Public Relations and marketing for about two years and could say first-hand I’d had many experiences like Andre, boss included, so I know that wasn’t far off.
However, his issue with the show was Andre was a marketing executive and married to a black, female doctor. Once again, this was giving me the same headache that critics of “The Cosby Show” used to have about Clair Huxtable being an attorney married to a gynecologist.*
I used to grind my teeth at this claim as a child, especially growing up in a household with two married parents — a banker and a credit union manager — one older brother, and a dog (at some point a cat and a fish came along, which made us look like a coloring book). Meanwhile I had god relatives and friends of my parents who were also black, married with kids, and gainfully employed.
So why is it exactly that some African-American viewers have such a bone to pick with middle-class or elite black families on television? I had a conversation a couple of years ago with a cousin who helped me vaguely understood the root of the issue.