If we look at the beginning of TV in black and white we can see how well America put gossamer over the cracks in its system. The TV showcased an all-American white family in the suburbs. This ignored gender issues, class issues, racial issues, and well basically any truth to the facade. Mad Men does an excellent job of showing how fractured America truly was at the time. There were a few notes of brilliance like I Spy (with and black & white secret agent on equal footing) However, TV and advertising wouldn't change until the 70s.
After the 60s with Vietnam, Civil Rights, Women's Liberation, the rise of rock and counterculture, TV would take on some new shapes in primarily the realm of black television. From Good Times, Sanford & Son and more, blacks began to have a voice in media that shaped and showcased their lives. Even other races made some appearances, such as Chico and the Man. It was pretty good and powerful until the 80s hit. Reagan, crack and the first of several attempts to browbeat other races into inferior places began here.
The 80s would be quiet until the late 80s began a Black Renaissance with the emergence of Spike Lee, A Different World, the Cosby Show, The Hughes Brothers and Robert Townsend beginning a trend during the Clinton Era to once again put blacks in the spotlight. Also, hip-hop culture began to emanate globally in nearly every aspect of life. Latin American TV began to take with its own networks like Univision and widespread TV Shows, like Xuxa out of Brazil. While there will still rarely if any Asian-American characters on TV, there was still progression otherwise.
Then Bush became president, during the 2000s or the aughts TV changed again. BET lost its rap tracks and advertising and instead became focused placating towards even white audiences (looked who owned it), characters that were once prominent on TV were limited to cartoons (Dora and Samurai Jack - both good, but imagine if they were Live-Action with that fame?) or limited characters (The Office). However, video games began to become a huge draw here and shifted were we would see stars from other racial backgrounds. Ugly Betty was exception, but it was still within a white writer's universe.
The 2010s have truly seen some significant changes as the writers are finally reflecting the characters they are playing. As the video I posted shows, Jane the Virgin for latinas, any of Shonda Rhimes collection, Fresh off the Boat for East-Asian Americans, and The Mindy Project for Indians (furthermore, I love Mindy Kaling she is one of the best people in entertainment). All of these shows and more have something that has happened in TV before, writers that reflect the people of color they are portraying. As always, the people who are those people understand those people better than anyone else so why not let them determine their own culture??? Along with this, social media is highly used by American minorities and therefore any show that does or does not represent them well will be exalted or vilified accordingly.
What happened to my TV is what we wondered in the 80s and 2000s; however, I think this time TV will be pretty solid in the future. Continue