Every fall television season the networks trot out several new shows to replace last years failures or shows that had reached the end of their useful ratings life.

This year was no different and we have seen the usual crop of hits and misses but no failure was apparently more glaring to Allison Samuels who laments in Newsweek the demise of Undercovers a new NBC series with a pair of attractive black actors as the leads.

Samuels just doesn’t take Hollywood to task for what she considers the dearth of leading black actors on television she goes as far as to say that Tinseltown isn’t ready for “super-negros” as she calls them

Here is part of what Samuels wrote in Newsweek

On Web sites such as Entertainment Weekly’s and Bossip theories ran amok as to why a flashy drama from a veteran producer sank before it could reach deep water. Some pointed to lack of star power, while a few fans complained of weak writing. Sure, all those things can cause any show’s early demise, but I’m not convinced those very fixable creative flaws explain the show’s short life span; ratings were low from the very first episode. I think it’s possible that a slightly more obvious, disturbing reason could be behind Undercovers’ failure, and it’s pretty familiar: race. Prime-time audiences just weren’t ready for “super-negros” on the small screen. And that’s exactly what Undercovers was: a show about black people doing very “unblack” things. Before anyone gets upset, let me explain. “Super-negro” was a term my family often used while watching old Sidney Poitier movies back in the day. In Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (our favorite), Poitier portrays a black doctor in love with a white, wealthy young socialite during the ’60s. Pretty early in the film, you begin to realize that Poitier’s character is not just any black doctor (an accomplishment in itself for most people then, and now); he’s a black doctor with degrees from several Ivy League universities, an internationally known scholar behind cures of dozens of diseases in Africa and elsewhere. Overkill. But Poitier portraying a “regular negro” was simply not good enough during those times, so the “super-negro” was born. The same could be said of his character from In the Heat of the Night, a Philadelphia cop with highly decorated awards.

Fast-forward 40 years, and it’s plain to see that Hollywood still hasn’t figured out a way to move beyond that absurd premise. It still can’t just fit us in. Yes, we often appear as sidekicks or backup characters in an array of popular shows in prime time, but rarely do we carry a show as the star or let the viewers come home with us. One exception is Jada Pinkett Smith’s turn as a no-nonsense nurse on the TNT show Hawthorne. Wonder why? It might have something to do with the fact that it’s a show that she and her husband, Will Smith, created and executive produce. Otherwise, it appears that the powers that be in Tinseltown feel quite comfortable relegating us to reinforcing every negative stereotype known to humanity in low-grade, embarrassing reality shows like Flavor of Love and Basketball Wives. So exactly how does the television audience (black, white, or other) make the gigantic leap from those constant images of foolery to a show like Undercovers? It doesn’t.

Samuels may be an award winning correspondent for Newsweek as her bio claims but in this case she is nothing but a race baiter for accusing Hollywood of purposely discriminating against blacks in leading roles.

Did Samuels actually watch any of the episodes?  I realize that television is entertainment but in the case of this show the idea that a young couple running a catering business were retired CIA agents and have been reactivated stretched the imagination.  The couple looked like they were maybe 30 years old at most and I could be wrong but how many retired spooks have you heard of retire at such a young age?  Also where did the wife learn all those languages?  It seemed like it didn’t matter what country she was in she could always speak the language.  How convenient.

The show didn’t fail because of some Hollywood conspiracy against “super-negros” but because it wasn’t remotely believable.

By the way if a white person had used the term “super-negro” he or she would have been crucified by the press but since Samuels is black it’s perfectly fine.

If Samuels is looking for bias in Hollywood she would be better off looking at how few conservatives are regularly employed or the ones that are keep quiet until they have established themselves.

 

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