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Racism and racial representation on soaps


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“It’s as though the mere presentation of such lives, *our* lives, is ‘political’ and will stir a debate.”

 

Again, all of this is obvious to anyone who has been a lifetime viewer of soaps, but I’m glad Mulcahey is articulating all of this publicly.
 

Too bad it’s only being discussed when daytime drama has been relegated to the dustbin of TV history, with zero cultural influence and no hope of change.

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It happened on DAYS back in the 80s. Abe was nothing more than Roman's sidekick. even thought they were both sergeants, Roman go all the big cases. the only time that Abe got a big story (and a family) was after Wayne N. left the show.

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3 hours ago, Faulkner said:

“It’s as though the mere presentation of such lives, *our* lives, is ‘political’ and will stir a debate.”

 

Too bad it’s only being discussed when daytime drama has been relegated to the dustbin of TV history, with zero cultural influence and no hope of change.

 

That part!

 

There was a study done about 5 or 6 years ago that illustrated that television entertainment like movies and television show (as well as companies) that were diverse, tended to make more money at the box office, had higher ratings and were more successful in general.

Could there be a correlation to soaps in terms of the lack of diversity, in front of and especially behind the cameras? I think so.  Even as ratings fell, soaps held onto their ways of doing things, even though those ways had become largely anachronistic.

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1 hour ago, DramatistDreamer said:

 

That part!

 

There was a study done about 5 or 6 years ago that illustrated that television entertainment like movies and television show (as well as companies) that were diverse, tended to make more money at the box office, had higher ratings and were more successful in general.

Could there be a correlation to soaps in terms of the lack of diversity, in front of and especially behind the cameras? I think so.  Even as ratings fell, soaps held onto their ways of doing things, even though those ways had become largely anachronistic.


I wish I knew how to find this article, but around the time Shemar Moore left Y&R the show lost I wanna day 2 million viewers. I could be wrong, but it was at least a million viewers. A CBS Daytime internal report about it ended up being leaked to one of the soap mags. They were trying to figure out what happened and determined his exit is what caused the ratings drop. As a result they planned to bring in an influx of new black characters. This is what led to Victoria Rowell’s return among other new characters like Keith Hamilton Cobb’s Damon Porter. 
 

Likewise when Victoria Rowell left in 2007 I believe they lost around 600,000 viewers and the ratings collapse is what led to LML getting fired. Nothing leaked or was admitted, but we know they knew her exit hurt them by the influx of black actresses they brought in to replace her, which never worked because those characters never got the screentime she had so they weren’t able to be developed enough to build proper fanbases. Mishael Morgan was the first one brought on who was actually developed which is what I credit with her success. 
 

I’ll also say that despite her many issues, I will never fully hate LML because she wrote a nuanced black family with agency. There was no Winters Wednesday. These characters had screentime comparable to the other characters and were written to be just as important. She is the last writer to do that. It’s been over 10 years since she left. That is embarrassing....

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1 hour ago, Chris B said:

I’ll also say that despite her many issues, I will never fully hate LML because she wrote a nuanced black family with agency. There was no Winters Wednesday. These characters had screentime comparable to the other characters and were written to be just as important. She is the last writer to do that. It’s been over 10 years since she left. That is embarrassing....

I agree, largely. LML was *very* interested in Dru. The other members of the Winters family? Not so much. I know a lot of people hated how Dru behaved during that era with the Carmen Mesta mess. But that story was absolutely told from her perspective, came organically out of Neil learning Lily was Malcolm’s daughter, led to a whodunit that affected the entire canvas, and gave VR some of her most memorable performances.

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On 6/2/2020 at 8:40 AM, kalbir said:

Y&R recently had a South Asian character, Ravi, but he was basically Raj from Big Bang Theory without the accent.

I really wanted Ravi’s character expanded and had his family brought in. I thought Mal Young was going to do that since that’s what did with the Masoods on EastEnders

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45 minutes ago, cassadine1991 said:

I really wanted Ravi’s character expanded and had his family brought in. I thought Mal Young was going to do that since that’s what did with the Masoods on EastEnders

 

So did I!  I thought that Shenaz Treasurywala would've been perfect to play an older sister. I had her whole entrance story set in my mind. It's too bad they gave up so easily. I know some people found Ravi boring but how many boring characters have the show allowed to remain on canvas for several years before dumping them?  I honestly think that with the addition of even one sibling would've brightened Ravi's prospects storywise and created a lot more complexity for the characters around him, even Ashley.

 

 

I saw the Nia Long appreciation tweets earlier. I don't know how it got started but I think it's cool.

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1 hour ago, cassadine1991 said:

I really wanted Ravi’s character expanded and had his family brought in. I thought Mal Young was going to do that since that’s what did with the Masoods on EastEnders

I’m curious if that was the intention, and it died when Sussman departed. Or if it was pitched and nixed, as Patrick Mulcahey suggested a lot of these things are. Soaps have largely resisted acknowledging a growing U.S. beyond white and black/Latinx. Karen in Middle America ain’t ready for that (admittedly my mother sees Asian people of all cultural identities as “foreigners” due to lack of exposure), and a South Asian family would be a political statement and not a story in their minds. Plus they might have to justify it from a market perspective. Are South Asian viewers numerous enough for them to see as an untapped market (and that’s not taking into account the variety of South Asian identities)?

 

To be fair, shows like Grey’s Anatomy and The Good Doctor, which have been praised for their inclusiveness, should have had far more Asian representation (primarily SE Asian and South Asian) than they’ve had over the years. It’s sad that I’ve seen more South Asian actors get roles as terrorists on Homeland than elsewhere on American TV.

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People forget that E.R. existed. It's a shame that there were hardly any South Asian characters, particularly on one hour dramas in the wake of that show but my guess is that there was no will behind the scenes to see South Asians as more than stereotypes. By the way, that's not just true of South Asians but of most immigrant groups of color on U.S. television and movies, including Black immigrants. It's pretty darn pathetic.  Like I said, probably one of the many reasons, soaps have failed to grow their viewing audience over decades.

To be honest, that could be a good reason for the drop off of viewers in primetime broadcast television as well. Why waste time with The Last Man Standing when you can go to Netflix and watch Narcos, House of Flowers, Kim's Convenience or watch sexy Dev Patel on Amazon Video or Korean dramas on Hulu? There's a whole diverse world out there and U.S. T.V. is pretty much missing it.

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Re: LML’s Y&R: Ji Min, mentioned earlier, was quite groundbreaking in a way. An Asian man allowed to be sexy and powerful enough to go toe-to-toe with the Alphas of Genoa City. (Y&R certainly eroticized Philip Moon’s Keemo back in the mid-‘90s, but ultimately made him a pathetic joke with the whole Mary Jo Mason story.) 


The writing for Ji Min was mostly AWFUL, though, and most people didn’t even notice when he was killed off.

 

 

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1 hour ago, Faulkner said:

Re: LML’s Y&R: Ji Min, mentioned earlier, was quite groundbreaking in a way. An Asian man allowed to be sexy and powerful enough to go toe-to-toe with the Alphas of Genoa City. (Y&R certainly eroticized Philip Moon’s Keemo back in the mid-‘90s, but ultimately made him a pathetic joke with the whole Mary Jo Mason story.) 


Good point on Ji Min!
 

Speaking of Keemo, here's how we meet him in his very first scene....:

 

Schermata 2020-06-07 alle 19.13.12.png

(courtesy of a member of the FB group)
 

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From what I've seen, it seems as if Moon had previously been a sort of the "go-to" Asian stock character in the P&G universe, having made appearances on at least two P&G soaps prior to Y&R.  His role on Guiding Light seemed to be a complete stereotype and he was on As The World Turns for seemingly a short time before another actor, Russell Wong, stepped into the role.

 

 

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I was absolutely in lust with Eric Steinberg any time I flipped by Y&R back then - him and Eyal Podell, who I think was at least part Israeli?

The Carla wedding clip from OLTL posted earlier just makes me so sad. Knowing how much time and care was put into the character and her story in the beginning and how many conversations the characters had onscreen, prompting conversations for the audience...and knowing that the vast majority of that incredible work has been lost forever, leaving Carla's video representation in the show's history down to ridiculous waste of time sht like this wedding...it's just sad.

Imagine a soap going head-first into a story about race in 2020 or 2021. Agnes did it within two years of MLK's assassination. These chumps making these shows and the networks airing them are nothing, absolutely nothing.

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