This is Part 3 of my “Invisibility Series”, which didn’t start out as such, but here we are. You can get caught up on the conversation by reading the first post, Black Woman Invisible, and the second, The Invisibility Continues. In a nutshell it is commentary on the presence – or lack thereof – of Black women on television and television shows, why that is important, and the effects of that invisibility.
Some of you may have been watching the new TV show Twisted. I think it is on ABC for those who are still doing television, and available on hulu perhaps for those who don’t, and my Seekrit TV Watchin Place On The Web for yours truly.
I really would never know about most of these new shows, if it weren’t for Ankhesen Mie and her fabulous team over at The Black Girls Club. They, like many other blogs and sites geared as Safe Havens for WOC/POC have deconstructed, discussed and given a very sharp and astute point of view on many a television show that features WOC/POC. Like for instance Twisted.
There has been a lot to discuss in this show that is
supposed to be centered around several POC characters, but seemed to always drift in predictable ways, such as the central viewpoint of everything being from the point of view of the white character in the trio of main characters, two of whom are POC.
—-> There are spoilers ahead for those not watching and/or who haven’t caught up to episode 9. You’ve been duly warned. <—–
There is much to discuss, yet again in this episode, and is in that link, but what I want to focus on is this one thing in particular from that post:
“We’re at the party for Lacey’s sister, Clara. Literally, this is Clara’s birthday party. Not once in the entire episode do we see Clara.”
Now up until that point, 8 episodes in, we have heard that Lacey has a sister, but we never actually see her. For awhile we never actually saw her mom either until she popped up briefly – played by the fabulous Robin Givens – in some episode or another. A divorcee, I believe *eyeroll* single parent *sigh* raising a teen on her own. The predictions about if/when we see Lacey’s father were spot on, and something I’ll leave you to read all about in the above link.
Note: That we have seen the parents of Jo (the white female character of the trio), and her home life is pretty well fleshed out. Danny’s is too to some extent, and since he is supposed to be the main focus/catalyst character, that should be par for the course. That Lacey and Jo are not equally fleshed out in that area is worth noticing.
Now, back to the Invisible Sister Clara.
She, at the beginning of the show is twelve years old, as she is celebrating her 13th birthday in this episode. I’m guessing she isn’t yet in high school, hence some kind of explanation as to why we never see her and Lacey (or them and her mom??) interacting on screen. Not buying it, tho, no ma’am!
But. When. You. Have. Damn. Near. A. Whole. Episode. Taking. Place. At. Her. Birthday. Party. And. She. Is. Never. Seen……
You really have to start wondering.
I kept waiting and waiting to have her pop up and hug Jo like her mom and dad did, or have the camera pan over to show her playing with her friends – but no Birthday Girl.
They couldn’t have found not one cute as a button Black girl to cast even if it was a non-speaking part – shown blowing out her candles, waving to Jo and her sister across the backyard lawn – anything??
And what a way to fail at wonderful opportunity to highlight a young Black girl going for her dreams in gymnastics. Sound familiar? Remind you of anyone?? No scene of her doing some flips on the beam at her high powered gymnastics training camp? Nothing? There is so much fail here, that I am rather incoherent.
This why it is so essential to have POC on the creative teams on television shows. From casting, to writers, to concept groups – the whole nine yards.
It wouldn’t have killed them to give a job to a young Black female aspiring actor. It wouldn’t have killed them to show the sisters interacting on screen. It wouldn’t have killed them to flesh out Lacey porter’s home life with her mom. It wouldn’t have killed them to include a gymnastics scene with Clara.
But instead we get this weird and totally unnecessary Invisible Character. It was absolutely GLARING to me, and I wonder if it was only glaring to the POC watching? I just cannot imagine should the races have been different, them not opting to showcase a cute as buttons little white girl playing Clara. I just cannot see that being the case.
This inability to be able to flesh out the lives of POC characters has me seeing red. How hard is it really? Why not do a mental A Time To Kill Matthew McConaughey speech in your head “Now imagine if she were white” and then let the creative juices flow? I mean try SOMETHING!!
Not only are they perpetuating the Black character as shallow, un-fleshed out, has no home or private life, as un-important enough etc, they are, like I pointed out in my 2nd post on the subject, denying career opportunities to Black female actors. Having Clara remain an invisible entity on that show does all of those things.
Not to mention in a visual business like television, getting onscreen is absolutely key to furthering your career. It just boggles the mind, and hurts the heart to see the predictable choices being made by the creative team behind this show. It is always with a wary eye, and plenty of emotional armor that we as POC and especially WOC tune in to a new show featuring ourselves.
Things might start out on the surface as looking like progress has been made, but as things go along, they tend to nearly always fall into predictable avenues. And you end up with things like a teen aged white girl lecturing a grown Black man on how to handle his family. SMH.