“Empire”,“How to Get Away With Murder”,“Scandal” and “Black-ish” are all changing the history of TV. The shows are ranking big in the ratings and it’s all because black audiences are making it happen.
“Empire” on FOX is the number 1 show this season. Certainly the actors and the story make it worth watching, but it’s because more black people are tuning in to this show that it’s reached the top.
According to Nielson, 61% of the households watching “Empire” are black—that something no prime time show has ever accomplished. For 4 weeks straight, the drama about a music mogul and his family attracted more viewers. Last week, 11.3 million viewers watched “Empire”—its biggest audience yet.
Wall Street Journal Culture Columnist Christopher John Farley says the game changer is that all these shows not only have black actors in lead roles and blacks at the helm as executive producers and directors, they are all dramas. That’s never happened before. Farley says Shonda Rhimes paved the way for this new revolution that CNN dubbed “The Year of African American viewer”. Kind of corny, but I like it.
Don’t popped the cork yet to celebrate, Farley says, “Remember last year at the Oscars, “12 Years a Slave” won and people thought oh things are changing in Hollywood. This year all white actors nominated in the major categories. Let see whether it’s permanent let’s see whether it’s a structural change and not just a temporary one.”
What is drawing the viewers? Some experts say Lee Daniels and Shonda Rhimes are pushing the envelope on issues like gays in black families and whether or not blacks should share the same space as whites.
The worst thing that can happen is a TV version of the blaxploitation of the 70’s where black stereotypes were perpetuated in movies. These movies always showed blacks living in poor neighborhoods where drugs and prostitution were the only way to make money. Some have already voiced concerns that “Empire” fits in with this blaxploitation genre. The blaxploitation films of the 70’s were part of the black pride movement, but many say it portrayed blacks in a negative light.
Perhaps the same light that colored the views of police officers who saw Eric Garner and Michael Brown as stereotypes instead of people. Do you think “Empire” and “Scandal” and other shows present blacks in a positive light?
What do you think?