Archive for the ‘parks and recreation’ Tag

Minority Report Card: Whitney and More.   Leave a comment

“There are two things I know about white people: they love Rachel Ray and they are terrified of curses.”-Ken Hotate

With premiere season over, this column is now going to monitor representation in a sample of seven episodes every week (until midseason premieres – woohoo!). I will be looking at whether it passes the Bechdel test, a test that asks whether the premiere has two female characters who have a conversation about something other than a man. I will also see whether it passes the same test modified to apply to people of color (the “Troy and Abed test”) and then modified to apply to queer people (the “Will and Jack test”). I’ve selected one TV show from every night of the week to look at. I don’t have a particular system devised for selecting episodes to look at, so please comment if you have any requests.

Bob’s Burgers (Fox)

For Sunday I looked at the show I believe is the strongest part of the animation domination line-up. The episode I watched was 3.4 “Mutiny on the Windbreaker.”

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Fail

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: This is among the best shows for great female characters, but as usual this episode was a let down for representation of people of color and queer characters– even though this episode had a very large supporting cast, so there was plenty of opportunity for diversity. There was one character who did seem to be gay, but it was played entirely as a joke.

Gossip Girl (The CW)

On Monday I looked once again at the final season of The CW’s once excellent series. The episode I looked at was 6.5 “Monstrous Ball.” 

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Fail

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: As usual, the final season of Gossip Girl fails at diversity and everything else.

Go On (NBC)

On Tuesday I watched the freshman sitcom starring Matthew Perry as a man going through grief counseling. The episode I looked at was 1.8 “Video Game Set Match.”

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Pass

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: This is easily one of the best sitcoms around for diversity. Although this episode failed the Will and Jack test, Anne continues to be a strong character.

Whitney (NBC)

On Wednesday I watched the premiere of the second season of comedian Whitney Cummings’s show. This was Episode 2.1 “Bawl and Chain.”

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Fail

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: One of the things that annoyed me about the ad campaign and first couple of episodes of this show were the broad generalizations about women. Based on this episode, they seem to have fixed that problem– statements about Whitney being irrational were statements about her personally, not women in general. However, there is no racial diversity on the show and Lily’s many comments about her gay ex-boyfriend were definitely annoying, if not problematic.

Parks and Recreation (NBC)

On Thursday I looked at my favorite show on television, Amy Poehler’s excellent sitcom about the people who work for a small town government office. The episode I looked at was Episode 5.7 “Leslie vs. April.”

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Pass

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: This show is so progressive in most ways that the lack of queer representation always surprises and disappoints me. Come on, guys. Throw someone in there!

Last Man Standing (ABC)

On Friday I looked at the second season of Tim Allen’s family sitcom. The episode I watched was Episode 2.3 “High Expectations.”

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Pass

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: The “we have new neighbors….but they’re black!” plot line is, uh, not exactly fresh. (In fact, this same show did basically the same plot last season with a lesbian couple). Also, because the plot was about the novelty of a black family, I couldn’t stop being reminded that we used to have shows that were actually about black families. Television does not always move forward as time progresses. The lack of queer representation is no surprise. The plus side here is that the subplot about the two daughters showed them as fully realized human beings with an array of pursuits that don’t have to do with men.

Saturday Night Live (NBC)

On Saturday I watched this long-running variety show. The episode I looked at was Episode 38.8 “Jeremy Renner / Maroon 5.” 

Bechdel test: Fail

Troy and Abed test: Fail

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: This cast is 36% people of color and 36% women. One wonders what all those people were doing throughout this episode.

Minority Report Card: Bones, Survivor and More.   2 comments

“I want you to hear what Malibu Stacy is telling a generation of little girls.”-Lisa Simpson

For every major network premiere this season I will be looking at whether it passes the Bechdel test, a test that asks whether the premiere has two female characters who have a conversation about something other than a man. I will also see whether it passes the same test modified to apply to people of color (the “Troy and Abed test”) and then modified to apply to queer people (the “Will and Jack test”). Let’s begin!

Bones (Fox)

The long-running procedural returns.

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Pass

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: Since all of the promotional materials for this show make it seem like it’s all David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel all the time, I was surprised by how prominent and independent the roles of the supporting characters are and the two most prominent of those characters (Angela and Camille) are women of color. Overall, I was impressed by how much this show had female characters and people of color being distinct, prominent and not just there to support Boreanaz. It’s only their queer representation that could improve. Bisexual Angela had a significant role on the show, so that’s good, but according to GLAAD’s Network Responsibility Index, her sexuality is rarely acknowledged. Yes, she’s been in a relationship with a man, but House always managed to keep Thirteen’s sexuality a part of her identity even when she was with Foreman.

Revolution (NBC)

This year’s flashiest new drama is the result of the creators of Lost, Supernatural and the Iron Man films joining forces.

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Pass

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: The show brings us a bow-and-arrow wielding leading lady and a woman with some major secrets who just might turn out to be the main antagonist. Awesome. I was a little worried that the only people of color would be a scary black man (Tom Neville, played wonderfully by Breaking Bad‘s Giancarlo Esposito) and a nurturing, motherly black woman (Maria Howell’s Grace). While those are the only two people of color who showed up, by the end of the episode I was pretty convinced that there would be much more to their characters than that. Hopefully the show fulfills its tease by giving us more development of those characters and adds in some queer representation along the way.

The Mob Doctor (Fox)

The title of this new show says it all.

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Pass

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: The scene where two people of color interact literally happens in the background while we see the Mob Doctor herself in the foreground. The female lead also leaves something to be desired. Her actions are stupid but it feels like the show doesn’t know she’s stupid.

Survivor: Philippines (CBS)

This reality show based on seeing who can survive harsh conditions returns yet again.

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Pass

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: Although this episode didn’t have the two queer contestants (lesbian Dana Lambert and gay guy Carter Williams) interacting, they are on the same team, so as long as neither of them is eliminated too quickly, the show should pass that third test by the end of the season.

Up All Night (NBC)

This sitcom starring Will Arnett and Christina Applegate returns for a second season.

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Pass

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: Although this episode just barely passed the Troy and Abed test, Maya Rudolph’s Ava is the only significant person of color. That’s mostly because the cast is so small. As they add in more supporting characters, I hope we get more people of color and some queer people.

The Office (NBC)

The hit sitcom started its final season this week.

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Fail

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: Mindy Kaling leaving the show really draws attention to how sparse their representation of people of color was. It doesn’t reflect well on them that they’ve been adding a lot of characters over the past couple of seasons and only one of those characters has been a person of color. (Ameenah Kaplan’s Val did not appear in this episode). It seems unlikely that Daryl, Oscar and Stanley will interact much in the upcoming season, but on the other hand they do need to keep the show fresh so some unlikely pairings are bound to come up. The show came tantalizingly close to passing the Will and Jack test with a phone conversation that Oscar had, but since we never see who was on the other line, it’s a fail for now.

Parks and Recreation (NBC)

The sitcom some people, including myself, consider to be the best show on TV is back.

Bechdel test: Pass

Troy and Abed test: Pass

Will and Jack test: Fail

Notes: Unsurprisingly, this show passed the first two tests easily. In fact the entire C-plot was dedicated to Tom, Ann and Donna interacting. But, the lack of queer representation on this show continues to disappoint me. Sure, they had April’s gay boyfriend and Leslie’s former campaign manager Elizabeth, but I’d really like to see some more significant queer representation this season.