There's something else going on here. There's the construction (no pun intended) of a "deserving" poor person whose needs can be addressed via a for-profit reality show, as opposed to real, systemic change.
On ABC's Revenge, the story is uprooted from the Second Empire in France to the modern-day Hamptons. The heroine is Amanda Clarke turned Emily Thorne, who seeks revenge on her old neighbors after her father was wrongly convicted of a terrorist plot, leading to her placement in foster care and, ultimately, juvenile detention. When she turns 18, Amanda learns her father made a few well-placed investments and inherits unimaginable wealth. And—like Dantes becoming the Count of Monte Cristo—she morphs into Emily Thorne, returns to the Hamptons, and strategically destroys the people who did her wrong.
Understandably, when telling a story in a different historical moment, and changing the genders of the protagonists and villains, and removing any of the original political context, you end up with something quite different. What endures, though, is the connection between wealth and villainy.
I understand that reality television has to have some sort of "hook" to get you, the viewer, interested enough to stick around. For the most part, that's usually drama. Even when shows are about parenting, it's not the day-to-day rhythm that gets airtime, but rather the sensational, unbelievable, and usually questionable parenting decisions that take center stage.
Monday's post on 2 Broke Girls generated a lot of comments—from fans of the show who felt I was being too harsh, and from others who felt I was too forgiving of the show's many flaws. One commenter said, "You can't expect a comedy to be so heavy and grounded in real life struggles."
All-American Muslim is a TLC show that first aired a month ago, that follows the lives of several Muslim families in Dearborn, Michigan. I still haven't seen the show, but it sounds perfectly....blah. Sort of like, "Oh, an inter-faith marriage? When is Freaky Eaters on?" As Porochista Khakpour put it in the New York Times, "There is absolutely nothing extraordinary about All-American Muslim and that's the point." But the Florida Family Association ("Family." Right.) clearly sees through the facade of football teams and family dinners. On their website, FFA states:
TLC's "All-American Muslim" is propaganda that riskily hides the Islamic agenda's clear and present danger to American liberties and traditional values.
Sixty-five companies seem to agree that these adorable children are a present danger to American liberties, and have pulled advertising.
Welcome back to Pop Pedestal, the blog series about pop culture personalities we admire. Today's tribute goes to Toph Bei Fong, earthbender extraordinaire from the Nickelodeon cartoon series Avatar: The Last Airbender.
The Crunk Feminist Collective, an amazing community and blog "where crunk meets conscious and feminism meets cool" (who should promptly be added to your blogroll, RSS reader, Twitter/Tumblr dash, what have you, if they're not already there), recently posted an open letter on their Tumblr page from some of its contributors to the writers of the web series Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl asking for accountability regarding transmisogyny, ableism, and homophobia that have popped up in recent episodes:
We have seen your responsiveness to the fans of ABG and we hope that by raising this concern you will respond accordingly by not using such language in future episodes. There are so many awkward queer, trans, and disabled folks who love the show and it hurts to see and hear our lives used as punchlines.
Take a look at the photo on the left. Starting in January, Jeff Winger will be replaced by Liz Lemon. No wonder he looks so dismayed in the picture!
In case you haven't heard, Community is being pulled off the schedule indefinitely (boo) and being replaced by 30 Rock (yay for that, at least). Whitney is swapping places with Up All Night, and in celebration I've decided to pretend the show is already off the Thursday night schedule and not bother to recap it anymore. Hope you're cool with that. Let's get started!
Patty Chase (Betty Armstrong) puts up with a lot of shit. Not only does she have to put up with playing the bad cop to good cop dad, Graham Chase (Tom Irwin), but she also gave birth to teenage drama lightning rod Angela Chase (Claire Danes) and has to work for her own dad (Paul Dooley), whose staggering immaturity puts any Liberty High student to shame. Nobody gave Patty enough credit for enduring record levels of angst and ennui once every week when the show was on the air, and that's why I'm dedicating this week's Pop Pedestal to My So-Called Life's Patricia Chase.