All Articles Tagged "Mad Men"
AMC’s widely popular scripted series, Mad Men, has been receiving its share of criticism over the starring cast’s lack of diversity or as Shadow and Act’s Tambay A. Obenson calls it, “vanilla casting.” Actress Erika Alexander, who is known best for her role as Maxine on 90′s sitcom Living Single, recently took to her blog to let the public know that she has also taken note of the show’s failure to feature Black actors.
Prior to last night’s two-hour season premiere, Alexander shared a blog post titled, ”Why I Wrote A ‘Mad Men’ Episode With Negroes,” expressing that although she is not a writer for the show, she’d love to see a more diverse cast on the AMC series. Towards the end of the essay, she provides a link where readers can check out the entire 45-page script. Her blog post in it’s entirety reads:
“Why did I write an episode of Mad Men with negroes? And by that I mean with “negro” characters in it, not with.. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Anyway, why did I write an episode of TV that I know will never be made? Though I work as an actress and have pitched and sold a television series or two in my time in Hollywood, I’m not a writer on Mad Men, so this episode won’t appear anywhere but here. Why, then? And why negroes? Aren’t we finished with all that? In honor of tonight’s Season 6 Premiere, let me tell you about it.
I like Mad Men. A lot. I like the subject matter – advertising; I like the cast – Don Draper is hot; I like the look – Hot Eames meets Op Art; I like the writing – Matthew Weiner is a storytelling beast. I love the writing.
I have only one issue with Mad Men (ok, with a bunch of shows, but let’s stick with this one): I’d love to see more diversity. I’m a black actress, so diversity is an issue that comes up for me. A lot. Mad Men, Game Of Thrones, Girls, Veep, these are cool shows, except for the fact that they would really rock with more people of color, series regulars or otherwise. I complain, wtf?.. and bemoan, WTF!.. but alas, for all my years in TV, I’m not able to make a difference in my own living room. Or am I?
I needed to find a different way to contribute to the conversation, to answer the constant refrain from show creators that they don’t want to just “shoehorn” black characters into their shows. Lena Dunham has said “Something I wanted to avoid was tokenism in casting”. Ok, don’t write in a token character, write five or ten great characters of color.
To be fair, Matthew Weiner has addressed this issue. “I do feel like I’m proud of the fact that I am not telling a wish fulfillment story of the real interaction of white America and black America… I’m very proud of the fact I’m not doing this guilty thing.”
Respectfully, I believe a storyteller has permission to imagine and create unusual situations in his or her fictional world to tell a larger truth. But I get it, race is complicated.
So, I decided to apply my creative powers to writing an episode of Mad Men. I tried to incorporate the “difficult other” organically into the storyline. For me, it was easy. Mad Men is set in New York City in the 60’s. Those times were all about race. It was the defining issue of the 20th Century. I was born in the mountains of Arizona, but as a writer I don’t have a hard time imagining black and white on Madison Avenue. My husband worked as a black art director in advertising agencies both mainstream and “black-oriented” and my father-in-law was a pioneering black executive in the 1960s. I merged the two and brought the mountain to Mohammed. My Don Draper goes Uptown and meets his match. The show already had good bones, I just put some dark meat on them.
Here it is. It’s called MAD-MEN-UPTOWN-SATURDAY-NIGHT (shout-out). The script won’t be made, but I hope to demonstrate that it can be done, and that iconic TV characters can play well with “others”.
Enjoy. Let’s keep the conversation going. Let me know your thoughts. Xx. e.”
What do you think of Erika’s decision to pen her own script? Did you peep the brotha she added to the show’s keyart?
You know how Netflix has the “10 ten suggestion for you,” option, which is suppose to find films and television shows that cater to your specific taste but never seems to actually get it right? Well one of those “suggestions for you” just so happened to be Masterpiece Theatre: Downton Abbey.
The first time I heard of “Downton Abbey” was earlier this year when Gawker ran an article called Why Everyone in the Universe Should Watch Downton Abbey. I read it, and despite its somewhat reasonable arguments, I brushed it off. It’s not because it was British, because I love British television shows. In fact, I grew up on a healthy dose of British tomfoolery such as Are You Being Served?, Keeping Up Appearances, Blackadder, Fawlty Towers and a ton of other shows. Nor was it because it was one of those old period pieces, I rather enjoys those too. It’s simply because I don’t have a television in my house, so I don’t always get to see the stuff that folks are watching. Plus, I have become so disillusioned by Netflix and its suggestions that another faulty selection just might have pushed me over the edge. Sob. It’s like it doesn’t even know me.
But I decided to give the algorithmic system another chance. So I crashed on my couch, under the fan and got my old lady on with some Masterpiece Theatre. Three episodes later, I was sipping on green tea, eating some toast (the closest thing to tea and crumpets I had) and was fully engrossed in the first season of Downton Abbey. And if that wasn’t enough, at work the next day, all I could think about was how I couldn’t wait to go home and watch the remainder of the first season. It truly is just that good. And suddenly my faith in Netflix’s top suggestions has been redeemed. Let the church say Amen.
The show, which is about an aristocratic British family at the turn of the century, has everything you want in a 1-hour drama: romance, sex, war, sibling rivalry, comedy and a whole bunch of social commentary. One of the major reasons why I like the show is because it does such a good job of exploring the issues of class and wealth, through not only the Lords and the Ladies of the estate, but also the various staff and servants who keep the estate in order. Downton Abbey is not only beautifully cast but also well written, and should probably be on everyone’s top ten list of shows to watch – if it isn’t already.
After I finished the first season, I called one of the girlfriends, who is always game to talk smack about a show’s plot points, and told her about my new prime time fix. I said to her, “Girl, you know what you should be watching? Downton Abbey.” Her response? “Nuh-uh. I’m not watching that. That show is for white people.”
Scooby Doo “Rhuh?”
This is not the first time I heard such a proclamation come out of her mouth. Last year, after I discovered the joys of Don Draper and the rest of the gang on Mad Men, I pleaded with her then to begin watching the show with me so that we could gossip. I got back virtually the same answer. “I’m not watching any show with no Black people on it,” she said.
Well that’s just silly. Besides, there are a number of shows with not a single black face on them that became must-see television in many black households. That list includes shows like Wonder Years, Married with Children, Full House, Friends, Three’s Company, Frasier, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Cheers and of course, the ever popular Seinfeld. I mean, those shows might have had guest starred a black person in an episode or two but for the most part they failed to consistently weave in any real diversity and mostly remained pretty homogenous. Yet we, particularly my girlfriend, still counts many of these black-less shows in our top ten. So what’s the fuss now?
“Well that was different. Times have changed,” she said.
Retro styles have found its way back into the mix thanks to shows like Mad Men.One of the trends we can’t wait to try this spring is high-waisted shorts. High-waist shorts can work for you, without looking like bad suburban mom jeans. Add a crop top and ease into the trend.
Just think, you can bend over and not worry about your underwear peeking through.
For the complete story, visit HelloBeautiful.com.
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After a 17-month hiatus, the show with a cult following is back and and has introduced its first non-white character. Meet Dawn Chambers, protagonist Don Draper’s new secretary and the fictional Sterling Cooper’s first black employee.
As the show is set in the 1960’s during race riots and protests, the fictional advertising company jokingly broadcasted itself as an equal opportunity employer. The result was the hiring of Dawn Chambers, played by Teyonnah Parris. The LA Times sat down with Parris to find out how she felt about her role on the show and what’s in store for the fifth season
“I realize a lot of responsibility comes with this role. It’s the first time the show has had an African American in the office, but I try not to let it overwhelm me,” Parris said to the LA Times.
Parris relayed that even in the audition, not much was released about her character. Creative director and executive producer Matt Weiner is so secretive about the script, Parris barely knows anything about the character she portrays.
“I didn’t come in expecting to change everything over night. I was OK with whatever they were giving me because I really had no clue. I wasn’t expecting much because they weren’t giving me much,” she said.
Parris first had to do a bit of catch up. As she says she is already familiar with the time period of the show, researching for the role focused more on catching up on Mad Man episodes. She admits that she was not up-to-date on all four seasons, and now as a member of the Mad Men cast, she is slowly becoming acquainted with its characters, including her own.
“You know, I didn’t even know how I got there. So when I watched the first episode of the season, I was watching with everybody else and I was like, ‘Oh, this is how Dawn gets into the office.’ I had no clue. I find things out with everyone too,” she said.
Viewers of the show can expect Dawn to have a bit of a rough transition into a majority white world, and Don Draper doesn’t immediately embrace his new African American assistant. But behind the scenes, Parris discloses that she is adjusting just fine.
You don’t see it on camera, but I felt like it happened off-camera as far as him welcoming me into this world,” Parris tells the LA Times of her introduction with the main character, played by actor Jon Hamm. “That experience happened with the real us, more than maybe it did between Don and Dawn.”
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Ever take a moment to check up on the latest and greatest with your favorite stars and always see the same people with issues? The media, of course, is always to blame for how they act and are portrayed and not them. *blank stare* For some stars all may be good but there’s one thing you wonder: “Does he ever smile?”
Well these men, for many different reasons have not always been in the high favor of the media or public opinion….let’s see why they are always mad…
Naturi Naughton, who shed her little girl image long ago, has signed on to co-star in a new NBC drama called “Playboy.” Set in the 1960s at a Chicago Playboy Club, the show will follow the life of Amber Heard’s character Maureen. Naughton will play Maureen’s roommate Brenda, who is determined to become the first black Playboy centerfold.
Click here to read about what else Naughton has been up to since her days as the lead singer of 3LW.