Television Programs

In the first unit of the course, we have been examining how television programs represent racial and ethnic minorities. More specifically, we have been trying to move beyond simplistic
assessments of “positive” or “negative” images toward a more critical point of view that
considers how television narratives work through issues of identity. Through particular plot points and character types, as well as costumes, settings, and particular types of music, television programs provide audiences with ideas about racial and ethnic minority lives and cultures. It is not so much that the episodes provide definitive, univocal takes on these matters as much as they provide viewers with opportunities to identify with particular characters and deidentify with others. The readings we have been discussing refer to this process as television’s role as a
“cultural forum,” where different, sometimes even conflicting ideas about minority lives and cultures come into focus.
In the form of a well-reasoned, well-supported essay, use specific episodes (one or two will
suffice) from a television program of your choosing to discuss how they construct a “cultural forum” on issues related to race and ethnicity.
● 6-7 pages

● To write an essay using television programming as your primary evidence
● To support your claims with secondary evidence drawn from course readings
● To think critically about how television represents issues related to race and ethnicity Nuts and bolts:
● At least 6 pages, not including a mandatory Works Cited section
● MLA citation format.
● You must cite the individual episodes you discuss in the essay.
● You must engage with at least 2 course readings in a substantive way. At least one of the two has to be either the Herman Gray essay or the Racquel Gates Double
Negative reading.
● “Substantive” here means a relatively in-depth discussion of the author’s ideas. You should include page citations. At the same time, keep quotations to a minimum. One sentence for each quotation, tops.
● You should copyedit your essay thoroughly.
● 12-point font, 1-inch margins
● Clear, concise writing. A good way to think about this assignment: imagine that other college students, who are not enrolled in the course, will read what you write.

Suggestions for programs to analyze:
● Black-ish (on Hulu)
● Queen Sugar (on Hulu)
● Love, Victor (on Hulu)
● East Los High (on Hulu)
● Abbott Elementary (on Hulu)
● Fresh off the Boat (on Hulu)
● There are lots of white-cast and mixed-cast programs that deal with race in individual episodes as well. A good Google search will reveal quite a few. Some suggestions: 30 Rock, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Golden Girls, This Is Us, Law & Order: SVU, and so on.
Other things to note:
● In general, feel free to write about whatever program you want. The emphasis of the
assignment is race and ethnicity. While we have been focused on TV’s representations of blackness, feel free to write about Asian or Latinx-themed programming if you so wish.
● The only limitation: you can write about a program we watched together as a class but cannot write about a specific episode we watched together as a class. You MAY NOT use any of the following episodes: the “Time Capsule” episode of Parks and Rec,
“Diversity Day” episode of The Office, “Pawnee Zoo” episode of Parks and Rec, or the “American tragedy” episode of Law and Order SVU.
● Stick to scripted television and stay away from reality television.

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