Wednesday, October 18, 2006
Goodbye Desperate Housewives
I’m done watching “Desperate Housewives.”
First they did an awful job with Alfre Woodard’s story line. Mrs. Applewhite spent several weeks simply listening to the thumping in her basement before even I finally figured out that the DH writers had no idea what to do with a black family in white suburbia. I also thought that the writers had probably gotten a clue as things seemed to heat up for the Applewhites and they did more than eat dinner while ignoring the loud noise in their basement; I thought maybe they would eventually find their niche on Wisteria Lane.
However the DH writers failed miserably. By moving in the Applewhites to Wisteria Lane, they were well aware of the lack of color on Wisteria Lane. Not so unusual, even in this day and age, however at least they were going to give integration a try.
However it soon became apparent that the folks at DH didn’t know much about black people, black family life or how black folks manage to fit into white suburban neighborhoods and it certainly isn’t by being mysterious and having loud thumping noises coming from your house. Eventually they fell back to playing on white folks stereotypical worst fears. A “large black male” -mentally disabled of course (didn’t see any mental-health professionals up at arms over this portrayal)- locked in a basement, being hidden away because he was an accused rapist and murderer.
Even I nearly missed the forest of stereotyping waiting and hoping for storyline trees to take root and actually develop. However the Applewhites never really developed beyond “Whoa. See those mysterious black people…hmmm…must be something wrong with them” for a storyline. Of course the black guy did actually go on a rampage and hurt a young white girl (shocking!) and before you can say “U-Haul," they were moving out, never to be heard of again on Wisteria Lane.
OK. So they screwed up. Yet two weeks ago, they pulled a stunt even more racist and bigoted than the Applewhite storyline monstrosity. I actually turned off the T.V. mid-episode and simply decided that I wouldn’t be tuning back in.
It was bad enough that the one “minority” couple on the show are the ones to actually abuse their immigrant housekeeper and eventually turn her into became their virtual “slave” surrogate mother. But then they had to pull the old, “that baby can’t be mine because it’s black,” joke which, if such a thing is possible, was already done more tastefully, in the very first episode of, My Name is Earl. At least on Earl, there was no implication that the baby wasn’t wanted because it was black, but on “Desperate Housewives,” I’m pretty sure that’s where they’re headed. (Went back and did a little bit of searching and found a discussion about this very episode here and the final comment here mirrors my sentiments exactly only with a bit more pissitivity mixed in on my end.)
Yet when I realized that what I’d tacitly accepted on one, I’d gotten angry about on the other, I just said goodbye to both shows. I watch too much TV anyway and quite frankly, I encounter enough racism in my daily life that subjecting myself to it while watching television shows that are supposed to be fun is, to put it lightly, a bit much. Actually, I don't think it's so much the black baby joke on My Name is Earl so much as that lately, I don't get to watch it anyway and secondly, it's not as good as it was the first couple of seasons. So I may as well, cross it off my list as well.