Cable Nets Carry Torch for TV Diversity11/29/2010 12:01 AM Eastern
Advocates of diversity on TV bemoaned
the recent cancellation of NBC’s drama series Undercovers,
one of the few broadcast-TV series with African-Americans
in leading roles.
But advocates can be thankful that, in the coming year,
several cable networks will introduce new projects that help
bring about more diversity in TV characters and stories.
BET and TV One will offer several scripted comedy series,
while TBS will look to continue its successful ratings
run of African-American-themed comedies.
This January, BET will team with actress/singer Queen
Latifah’s production company, Flavor Unit Entertainment,
to premiere Let’s Stay Together, a show that takes
a humorous look at the relationship challenges of five
young, aspirational African-Americans.
BET will also offer its take on the traditional family sitcom genre later
in the year with Read Between the Lines, while resurrecting sitcom
The Game, first aired by The CW in 2006, for a third season.
TV One will tap Fresh Prince of Bel-Air alumnus Tatyana Ali to produce
and star in its first scripted comedy series, Love That Girl!
Beyond those new entries from African-American targeted
outlets, TBS continues to the be the house of successful
black-themed shows, led by Tyler Perry-produced hits House
of Payne and Meet the Browns. Both series remain among the
most-watched scripted comedy series on basic cable, averaging
more than 2.5 million viewers each for premiere episodes.
TBS this past summer also greenlit a 90-episode order
for the Ice Cube-produced comedy Are We There Yet?
Sister network TNT has greenlighted a third season of
HawthoRNe, one of only two basic-cable scripted drama
series featuring an African-American actor in a lead role.
(The other was BBC America’s six-part psychological thriller
Luther, starring Idris Elba of The Wire.)
There’s no guarantee any or all of these series will reap
significant audience ratings and ad-revenue returns.
At the very least, they will offer viewers a chance to see numerous
African-American images in projects that offer more than supporting
buddy roles or sensational reality-series caricatures.