Television and Media Essay - African Americans and TV Shows

Television and Media Essay - African Americans and TV Shows

Length: 1208 words (3.5 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Excellent

Open Document

Essay Preview

More ↓
It is estimated that African Americans spend about four to five hours more than the general public on watching television a week. Yet still with these findings, there are only 18 shows that feature an African-American cast or lead character out of the 115 that air on the six major broadcast networks. Even with this imbalanced ratio, there are reasons why there are so few programs featuring leading African Americans, despite the great amount of blacks that are consistent television viewers (Hall 12).


It is thought that television producers are just trying to play it safe by sticking to what they know and what they are used to doing. It has been hard for networks to duplicate shows that have satisfied the viewers, such as "The Cosby's", "The Jefferson's", and "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air," Creating this kind of "crossover" audience is essential in a show's success(Hall 12).


A more recent show that has been able to gain this success is "The Hughley's". It is said to be "probably one of the best things that's happened this year" according to WB Entertainment President Garth Ancier. This show is said to have "wide spread appeal", and it also helps that it follows right after "Home Improvement"(Hall 12). Although following such a well known show helps out with the viewers, the show is getting more and more popular, and will hopefully cause a change in the way networks associate black television with failure.


Even though there is at least one African American in almost every drama ensemble, you don't see any dramas with a full cast of African Americans (Hall 12). It is assumed that if one were to be put on the air, it wouldn't do well because it is something that hasn't been done before. African Americans are automatically associated with being comedians. All of the shows featuring a mostly black cast are comedy shows. This is a reason why networks would stay away from creating a drama with a full cast of African Americans.


"The industry has not accepted that people are different", says Louis Carr, executive producer of Black Entertainment Television (BET)(Hall 12). BET has done a lot for African Americans on Television. Not only does it show music videos, but it has an award show where it celebrates and appreciates African American stars.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"Television and Media Essay - African Americans and TV Shows." 23 Jan 2019

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

African Americans role of Television Essay

- African Americans role of Television The roles African Americans play on television are not satisfactory. Though the roles have changed during the development of television, the current relationship is not representative of true African American people or their lifestyles. The question is how do the past roles African Americans play in television sitcoms compare to the current roles. How does this affect society’s perception of the African American in American culture. Throughout the history of television the roles and the representation of African Americans has developed with the changing cultural conditions....   [tags: essays papers]

Research Papers
2271 words (6.5 pages)

African American Stereotypes Reality Television Essay

- Reality programs have dominated television networks since their rise in popularity began in the early 1990s with MTV’s The Real World. The reality genre quickly gained viewership as it redefined the formulaic set up of televisions shows from the past. Reality television has infiltrated television because networks prefer low budgets for their programs that also generate high ratings (Hasinoff, 2008). People watch reality shows because they are intrigued by the seemingly “real” drama with ordinary people as characters (Dubrofsky, 2006)....   [tags: African American Stereotypes]

Research Papers
1543 words (4.4 pages)

The Appearance Of African American Audiences Essay

- You lay on your couch after a long day of work and turn your television on. After skimming through the hundreds of channels, you finally arrive at your preferred show. But wait. The characters you had grown to love are now represented by a completely different race. Suddenly you no longer feel that same correspondence to the show you once had and change the channel. This time you stop at a different show, but notice that you watch this television series just as frequently. Surprisingly, the lead character has changed his profession in the episode from a doctor, to a servant....   [tags: White American, Race, Racism, African American]

Research Papers
2312 words (6.6 pages)

The Rights Of African Americans Essay

- What would the world be like today if no one stood up for the rights of African Americans. Would there be equality between the white people and black people like there is today. We would never know because of a man who stood up for what he believed in. His name was Martin Luther King Jr. He didn’t do it alone, he encouraged others to stand up and fight back as well right along next to him. Martin Luther King Jr. changed history by inspiring people around the United States to show actions towards ending racism; by showing hope for the African Americans future; and how what he had done has influenced the world we know now....   [tags: African American, Black people, Martin Luther King]

Research Papers
1407 words (4 pages)

Essay on The Hypersexual Nature Of African American Women

- ... First, Erica Mena was introduced as a spicy new model who was looking for her chance to be discovered in the big city as a singer. During the show she entered into a relationship with Cyn Santana. The two were sexualized immediately on camera. Showcases their intimate bathtub scene. The camera filmed the steamy bubble bath scene and caught one of them taking off their swim top. Creating the fantasy of the heteronormative ideal of two lesbians continues the cycle of exploiting women through their sexuality....   [tags: African American, Black people]

Research Papers
2557 words (7.3 pages)

Essay on Television: A Vast Wasteland

- The Cosby Show was the pinnacle of American television. Based on an affluent African-American family in Brooklyn, New York, The Cosby Show demonstrated how to effectively raise a family. The sitcom starred Phylicia Rashad as Clair Huxtable, a confident, assertive, and eloquent attorney. Alongside Rashad was Bill Cosby as Cliff Huxtable, an eccentric and whimsical obstetrician. Together, Clair and Cliff reared five children in the midst of several complex obstacles. When faced with Sondra’s decision not to go to law school, Denise’s decision to discontinue her education, Theo’s satisfaction with mediocre grades, and Vanessa’s rebellious behavior, the Huxtables never ceased to use humor and di...   [tags: Television]

Research Papers
2654 words (7.6 pages)

Cultural Practices And Stereotypes Of African Americans Essay

- ... Although some of these are true, they do not depict the ideas and beliefs of African Americans. What makes these stereotypes so hard to break away from is that they are constantly portrayed via technology to the world. In today’s day and age with technology being so prevalent and easily accessible the depiction of a race on television may be the only encounter that one may have with said race and for African Americans this is where the problem begins. This is such an enormous problem that it also affects those who are African American....   [tags: African American, White American]

Research Papers
1183 words (3.4 pages)

Women 's Influence On African Americans Essay

- ... This is mainly proven in colleges that are known for their huge sports program. Based on the document The Heavy Burdens of Black Athletes by Thabiti Lewis the lust of money hinders administration from seeing the big picture. College is a time for education purposes and figuring out what you want in life. Most college students are still teens who are finally overcoming obstacles themselves. Coaches only care about your grades enough to play in the game but not on what the education can benefit you....   [tags: African American, Black people, African diaspora]

Research Papers
1590 words (4.5 pages)

African Americans And The Civil Rights Movement Essay

- ... Though the “intensity of the federal antidiscrimination effort […] in the early 1960s” (Donohue and Heckman 1604) has lessened this wage gap, racism in the workforce, does continue to take place. Its past allowances has left its mark on the ways that business owners treat minorities. Though many in modern day society argue that this bias is not deliberate in the way our world operates today, psychological studies show that the human mind does continues to present a favored disposition towards colors closer to white on the color spectrum as opposed to black....   [tags: African American, Black people, Race, Racism]

Research Papers
1124 words (3.2 pages)

The Impact of African American Roles on Television Essay

- The image of African Americans has been greatly depreciated by the roles they play on television sitcoms. On these shows African Americans are depicted as being maids, clowns, and buffoons. This misrepresentation of African Americans has become common place through out the media. One of the most controversial sitcoms was the Amos ‘n Andy Show. This sitcom included two black comedic men and began the creation of the African American stereotypes that most people have grown accustom to today. The Amos ‘n Andy Show began as a radio show with two white men portraying two black comedic men....   [tags: essays research papers]

Free Essays
826 words (2.4 pages)

Related Searches

It also includes sports highlights, current news updates affecting the black community, movies for African Americans, and a comedy show. This channel has done so much for African Americans on television.


Unfortunately, this is the only channel that concentrates completely on African Americans. Next to this channel, UPN is carrying more shows targeted toward an African American audience, yet it still doesn't compare to the air time that African Americans get on BET. Even on this channel, there are still no game shows, morning shows, soap operas or dramas that revolve completely around African Americans.


This problem may not always be the result of racism. Television is all about business and making money, and executives want to stick with topics that have been previously successful. A main topic that networks have stuck to over the years deals with Caucasians in New York City.


Shows such as "Seinfeld", "Friends", and "Will and Grace" have all been extremely successful, and are all based around the same setting. Perhaps network executives can begin to research how these previously successful television topics can be related to an African American audience.

Advertisements also play a big part in the airing of shows. If advertisers won't pay for a time slot during a show, there will eventually be no network. Also, an advertiser is not going to pay for a time slot during a show that not many people watch (Lyons 9). Another problem with this is that advertisers tend to relate the product they are selling to the audience that is attracted to a specific show. You don't see very many commercials/products that relate to the African American community.


Not only is this going to affect the amount of African American shows that are aired, but it effects marketing which is another area which lacks blacks.. If an advertiser is looking to attract a specific audience to his/her product, they will pay for a time slot which they think is during a show that will attract that specific audience. If there is a lack of black related products, there are not a lot of advertisers looking for a time slot during an African American based show. This has a big affect on the networks picking and choosing of new shows for the fall line-up.


The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) has been fighting for an "ethnic cleansing" of the airways. President Kweisi Mfume is outraged by the lack of African American stars in the 26 shows debuting this fall. He blames it on "clueless network executives"(Lyons 9). It is uncertain if this kind of activity will really help out African American's on TV. Controversy has been stirred up about the stereotypical depictions of blacks in sitcoms such as "The Wayan's Brothers" and "The PJ's". The NAACP actually caused the cancellation of "The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer", a sitcom of a black butler in the Lincoln White House (Lyons 9). All of this debate that has been brought up, even about shows with a main character that is African American, will most likely cause a producer to just steer clear of trying to create a successful "black based" show that would also not upset the NAACP.


It looks as if some small things might begin to change. Donald Jackson is the President of Central City Productions in Chicago, and he has a plan that will hopefully change the course that the networks have been following. His plan is to begin Black Family Entertainment Television, which will be based on a variety of first run shows. Jackson stated that, "Our strategy is not to compete with BET, [but] it is to grow the market place."(Lyons 9).


Hopefully this will do something for the African American community, but there will be a lack of beliefs until it is done, and on the air. Something like this has only been done once before, and it will be interesting to see if it can be done, and be as successful again. The debate over whether or not there is enough television shows based on African Americans will never end. There will always be something to complain about, and there will always be a flaw in the system. But it doesn't seem like conditions are going to get worse. Networks are aware that there should be more African Americans on television, and when they see the few shows that are on the air now become successful, it will cause a domino affect. It all comes down to the money, and networks are going to go after whatever makes them that.



Works Cited

Hall, L., Schneider, M., McConville, J. "Racism or Ratings". Electronic Media. February 1999,

Vol. 18, Issue 5.

Lyons, D., "NAACP's War on Television". Christian Science Monitor. July 1999, Vol. 91,

Issue 170.

Return to