Saturday, November 07, 2009

The Peacock Needs Some Color

OK, so full disclosure. I'm a white girl of Irish heritage. I don't tan so much as glow like a traffic light when exposed to the sun. So I'm probably not the best person to bring up this particular topic. There's no tactful way to say this, and this will be exceptionally tactless, because I suck at politics. I apologize, but I really think it's a point worth making, so try to give me the benefit of the doubt.

I love great television. So I love Friday Night Lights. This season, the big plot turn (and it's a good one) is that Eric Taylor has been banished to coaching the football team for East Dillon, the "poor" high school.

Even when Eric was coaching the Panthers, the racial mix of the show was a little weird. I did not grow up in Texas, but I did grow up in New Mexico, and at least once an episode I would wonder where on earth all the Hispanic people were. Let's face it, if this were really Texas, they would probably outnumber the white people on the show. We had the nurse who took care of Matt's grandma representing the entire Hispanic adult population of Dillon, but I remember only one Hispanic student, and I'm not even sure he had any lines. I'm not the only one who's noticed--lots of affectionate reviewers and viewers would prefer it if our suspension of disbelief was taxed only by the insane plot line involving Tyra and Landry committing a crime with virtually no consequences, and not by the regular assertion that nobody in Dillon speaks Spanish except for high school Spanish class.

So I was really excited when the show took this turn of having Eric lose the Panthers coaching job to the truly Bond-villainish father of JD McCoy. I saw it as NBC taking the criticism on the chin and being proactive about it, and using it to fuel some kick-ass drama. I was naive enough to think that some of the kids who live in Texas might not be white, and that some of these not-white kids might go to East Dillon High.

The producers do seem to be aware that East Dillon might have a different demographic. And they have summoned their casting talents to find some really terrific African American actors (including "Wire" veteran Michael B Jordan). This is awesome. I love Smash, and I think Gaius Charles has a big career ahead of him, and if they want to launch another three or four or ten talented African American actors, I'm behind them 100%. Yay, NBC. But Dillon is in Texas, not Georgia. The absence of Hispanic culture in Dillon is frankly getting egregious. These kids would be at that school. And we all know there's talent out there. Hell, Glee takes place in friggin' Ohio and has a more diverse cast--and those kids have to be able to sing. Get out there and raid Telemundo, NBC. Or better yet, get your butts to Texas and find yourself some actual Texas talent.

Sorry--I'll put the soapbox away now and return you to your regularly scheduled programming.

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