Last night’s EMMYs reminded me of the way my mother used to make potato salad. All the ingredients – potatoes, mayo and onion – were white so before she served it, she would sprinkle on a little paprika or add some parsley then serve it in a colorful bowl. None of the garnishes added anything to the flavor of the salad; it was just there for appearance. That’s what watching the EMMYs was like last night – all white with a little Don Cheadle, Kerry Washington and Diane Carroll sprinkled on for color. The commercials were more diverse that the audience, the presenters or the shows nominated.
How is it that in 2013 the television industry has managed to remain potato salad white when there are so many talented actors of color – all colors – and stories about America’s diverse culture available to add spice to the current bland buffet? Throw in some purple or red skin potatoes and yams; season it up with Asian five spice, black pepper, mustard, hot sauce, and a little garam masala. Serve it up in colorful bowl. Even my mother knew that the more colorful the dish, the more we’d enjoy it. In television terms, increase the relevance, and possibly increase the audience. Is it any wonder that television viewing numbers are dropping in all demos year-over-year?
I can’t identify with an America that doesn’t look like America; if television isn’t even remotely broadcasting my reality then I’m probably not going to watch. That’s why I turned off the EMMYs in disgust last night. Sadly or stupidly I can’t tell which, last night’s EMMY broadcast proved that 50 years later in TV Land, Martin Luther King’s dream is still just a dream.