“Are We There Yet?”

Black TV: Cosby vs. Madea, Are You Still Tuned Into Vaudeville Buffoonery?

If someone would have told me in 1980-something that Icecube would be a Disney type star, TV producer and all around Hollywood celebrity, I would have laughed and told them to go straight to Compton with that old bullish….

NWA's Icecube


Hollywood's Icecube

So fast-forward it’s 2011…Icecube is a Hollywood star, Disney movie maker, TV producer, still making rap albums (although lacking compared to old Cube, in my opinion). His new show is called “Are We There Yet?” and it features a sound cast but a weak script. Ice plays a stereotypical thug-like character that does have military training. And the show, well, I found it Tyler Perryish and that ain’t good!

Tyler Perry found his nitch early on. People, particularly black women loved the combination of funny kinfolk we could relate to, good music, and Gospel themes in his plays. He used common dilemmas of black women and men to fuse his worldwide take over, then the bubble burst. With the help of Queen Oprah, Perry got greedy off the buffoonery of his characters and we began to see Maybelline “Madea” Johnson everywhere. The translation to the rest of the world got lost on “Madea” and her antics and left us to explain why she was part of a larger piece of black Americana. Do you think they got that part?

This latest TV offering had me wondering “is Black TV there yet?”

If you would have asked me last year with the oversaturation of Tyler Perry productions, I would have said HELL NO! But these past few months I have noticed that BET and TV1 are making major headway in offering shows that are not the typical step-and-fetch negros, shucking and jiving around for laughs.

I was very moved by the KC and Jo-Jo’s “Come Clean” reality show. I am looking forward to the return of “The Game” even though the CW ditched it, it is very good! I also like Monique’s night time talk show. Though she can be a bit over the top! Monique’s guests are not the over circulated stars we see on all the other night time outlets. We are treated to good music from historical icons and current major players or up and coming’s from the celebrity world.  Even Martin Lawrence is returning to TV on the TV 1 Network with Tatyana Ali in “Love That Girl.” TV1 also premiered last season the series “Unsung” which showcased artists who you really wanted to get to know, or wondered whatever happened to?

I am glad to see that Bill Cosby’s show was not the last of great black performance and entertainment. Now that BET has been taken over, we can see noticeable improvements to the network lineup that broaden the audience base from the teens and that “rap/hip hop” mess or whatever they want to call it, it’s not music! These two networks are offering something for everyone. They depict black folks in dramas, situations, reality, and comedies that are up to our standards and relatable to the everyday, middle class black family or the single sensible adult. It is sad is it has taken so long, but I see hope and change in TV land.

So to answer the question, “are we there yet?” We are getting there but not quite there yet. Once we start to see businesses and corporations show commercials without squirrels hangin like hood rats and people enjoying their product without pumped up bass lines, then maybe we will be one step closer to being depicted and advertised as we truly are!

Peace Family,