Recently, tv land saw the cancellation of The Get Down and Underground. Once the news hit social media, individuals began putting together their best 140 characters as to why our beloved predominantly black casted shows were being cancelled. Even I joked around, tweeting “they don’t want to see us on tv.” With reality tv being the mainstay for many networks, it felt like a breath of fresh air seeing scripted television make a comeback. Having so many POC casts available to us weekly really began to spoil us, so when two of our favorite shows were cancelled, it felt personal. I took some time to think on it and I realized, there isn’t a conspiracy to the cancellation of black casted shows. These shows are simply falling in line.
In the past few years, we have entered what I like to consider the second golden age of black hollywood. Since the premiere of Selma (directed by Ava Duvernay) we have seen a rise of black casting. There was media that came before it such as Scandal, boasting a black lead (Kerry Washington) and black creator (the juggernaut Shonda Rhimes) however, after 2014 a greater embrace of black creatives in film began to show itself. Fast forward to 2017 and every network with a decent marketing team has at least one show in their prime time spot with either a black lead or a heavily POC cast. Feel free to correct me in the comments but I believe it is safe to say that almost every type of black person is represented in TV right now. With that much variety, there must be casualties.
115 shows were cancelled in the 2016-2017 season. Below is a list of shows on tv with a black cast:
Being Mary Jane (BET)
The Breaks (VH1)
The Carmichael Show (NBC)
Chewing Gum (E4, Netflix)
The Haves and Have Nots (OWN)
How To Get Away With Murder (ABC)
Lethal Weapon (FOX)
Luke Cage (Netflix)
Orange is the New Black (Netflix)
Queen Sugar (OWN)
Still Star-Crossed (ABC)
Survivor’s Remorse (Starz)
Below is a list of shows that were cancelled or placed on hiatus in the 2016-2017 season:
24: Legacy (FOX, on hiatus)
Training Day (CBS)
Shots Fired (FOX)
The Get Down (Netflix)
I know there are more shows in both categories. These are all I could come up with at the moment. The Get Down was too expensive and WGN’s Underground was cancelled due to a change in direction for the network. But besides these two, I never heard anyone talking about tuning into Shots Fired, Training Day, or Pitch and 24: The Legacy is on pause as Corey Hawkins makes his way to broadway.
I shouldn’t be able to make a list of the shows that have a heavy representation of my demographic. There should be so many shows available that I wouldn’t even think about trying to list them. We do have a long way to go when it comes to representation however, it is important to acknowledge where we are now. I must say, I am proud of the direction we are heading in. When one of these shows get cancelled it stings but nothing is alarming about the ratio. I’d say it’s spot on. The more saturation in the market, the more fails we will have. What we should do is continue supporting black creatives. The power we have is exhibited in the fact that Issa Rae, Ava Duvernay, Rihanna, and Lupita Nyong’o are in cahoots for a film that started as an idea on Tumblr and Twitter. Who knows, if we continue to use our power as viewers, we might be able to bring our favorites back. It certainly worked for The Game.