You know, I’ve been pretty upbeat about soaps’ handling of LGBT issues lately, glad that daytime’s being so supportive and making the effort, etc. There’s a problem with that, though. It means that in my mad rush to praise soaps, I’ve forgotten to be vigilant of how there’s still a bunch of EPIC FAIL in the racial diversity department. Shame on me. Because this is a cause very, very close to my heart. Not to mention plastered all over my skin.
You would think that a genre whose largest audience is people of color would actually make the effort to represent that audience. Even Y&R, who gets consistent kudos for featuring the Winters family, has some issues to work out. Like … why were Neil, Karen, Tyra, Devon, and Ana basically in a bubble all year? And why has Lily never dated a black man? I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with her being with Daniel or Cane; it’s just something to think about. Lily gets free rein to run around with the Chancellors, the Abbotts, etc. Whereas Neil really only does that for business reasons. Lily has, in Cane, a pass to the more lucrative storylines. Y’all know I’m not exaggerating. OLTL’s Evangeline and RJ were barely a blip on the show’s radar. In sticking her with John, all of a sudden Vange had worth and a pairing name (JoVan) and ‘shipping wars being fought for her. Luckily, OLTL has gotten better by bringing back all the Gannons, pairing Layla with Latino Cristian, featuring Shaun and Destiny, etc. But are they as important to the show as the Buchanans or Rex and Gigi or, heck, Starr and Cole? You be the judge.
Look at ATWT for a similar issue. Jade, who returned with the stereotypical Latin thug boyfriend, Robbie (thanks, ATWT…not!) is in the featured twenty-something set…and is it primarily because she’s been involved with Casey and her extended family is white? It sure looks like it. Because she has a potential love interest in Dallas, who is never seen, and her newly discovered dad, Derek, and his girlfriend Bonnie are never on. What’s that about? I’ve been reading Internet rumors lately that Bonnie will soon be paired with Dusty, and while I love Dusty and think Grayson McCouch is a sweetheart, the very idea gives me rage blackouts (no pun intended). I will not even be able to vent my feelings in a coherent, non-four letter word manner if it happens, so let me do it now while I still have the socially acceptable terminology at my disposal. It’s wrong. Straight up, flat out, wrong. Because you know IF Bonnie is paired with Dusty, she’ll be catapulted onto the front burner. It’s a fact. Thus sending the message that Bonnie and Derek, a black couple, are not good enough or important enough to have a story on their own. I mean, for all the people who complained about a kissing ban for Noah and Luke…where is the same outrage for Bonnie and Derek not having an onscreen love story? Where is the calling out of ATWT for being afraid to show two black people being affectionate? They have not kissed. At all. She didn’t even fix his freaking tie, okay? Noah and Luke have lived out a Homerian epic (as in Homer, the poet) in comparison to Bonnie and Derek!
And yet no one says anything. It’s like there’s a sense of complacency, or just plain exhaustion, when it comes to fighting the racial diversity fight for daytime. Why? Is it that ridiculous old media chestnut that people of color don’t sell? Because that doesn’t really wash. Plenty of white people don’t sell either. But what was the #1 movie at the box office this week before Wolverine premiered? Obsessed, starring Beyonce Knowles and Idris Elba and Idris Elba. Have you ever heard of a Tyler Perry movie not making money? Do people not buy Essence and Ebony? What won the Oscar for Best Picture this year? Slumdog Millionaire, which had no white people of consequence in it. (Which is probably why there were no acting awards handed out, but I digress…) The market is there. The audience is there, just waiting to be tapped into. I mean, soaps have been on for 70+ years, so why are we moving backward in this department, just when we need to be exploring every single avenue available to make soaps more viable?
Here’s a quick rundown of how the rest of the shows are doing. (If I missed someone, feel free to add a name in the comments!)
AMC: The Hubbards; seen on occasion
B&B: Marcus; seldom seen
DAYS: Abe, Lexie and Theo; seldom seen
GH: Sonny, front burner. Dr. Lee, Nurse Epiphany, Robin’s therapist; all recurring and seldom seen
GL: Remy and Christina; featured more in recent weeks and Mel, who is seldom seen. Natalia, half of a front burner interracial, gay relationship. Rafe, seen on occasion.
Y&R: In addition to the Winterses, there’s Rafe and Estella.
And that’s pretty much it. A handful of black characters, even less Latinos (two of which are also sexual minorities), and ONE Asian character.
Maybe this is is why we haven’t heard hide nor hair of GH: NIGHT SHIFT coming back…because heaven forbid daytime get shown up again by the Little Show That Could, a 13 week series helmed by an Indian head writer that airs at 11 p.m. I mean, pound for pound, GH: NS had a more minority balanced cast than the entirety of daytime.
No wonder it’s…seldom seen.
originally posted on soapoperaweekly.com