If three instances signals a trend, then Shonda Rhimes’ new pilot “How to Get Away with Murder” signals a theme in TV, cheating Black female lead characters.
Last Thursday was the day many of us “Scandal” fans had patiently waited for: The return of Miss Olivia Pope and her team of gladiators. Just like many of you reading this, I was glued to my TV set during the premiere, and furiously live-tweeted my reactions throughout the commercials. You would be surprised to know that I just started watching the show recently. My lady-friend badgered me about how great the show was, and after FINALLY giving in and watching the first two seasons, I eventually fell in love with “Scandal.”
What was my prior hesitation, you ask? Simply put, I didn’t know if I wanted to support a show that portrayed a strong, beautiful Black woman as nothing more than a sidepiece. It’s clear that there is a lack of Black female leads on TV, and I sort of felt that I was tacitly agreeing to portraying our women as home-wreckers by supporting “Scandal.”
Eventually, my friends convinced me that I was looking at things far too in depth, to which I agreed and ultimately decided to enjoy the show for what it is. When people (read: other Black men) would ask me how I could support a show that featured a Black woman as a jump-off for a white man, I simply stated that it was a work of fiction and they were reading too deeply into it. I like movies with big guns, explosions, and murders but that doesn’t mean I support war mongering, brutal killing, and Walmart selling ARs in real life.
Then “Being Mary Jane” premiered on BET. Another beautiful, strong Black woman – who is ultimately a side-chick. When the critics eventually judged shows’ portrayal of adulterous Black women, “Being Mary Jane” was a lot harder to justify because the writing of the show is inferior to “Scandal.” Plus the lead character seems to EXCLUSIVELY smash men involved in relationships. I’m not a huge fan of this show, yet I found myself praising the fact that there are more Black female leads on quality TV shows. But when I found out that Viola Davis is set to star in an ABC drama in which she will be playing a strong, beautiful, Black woman embroiled in an extramarital affair, I’ve reached the point that I can’t defend this theme anymore.
The show is titled “How To Get Away With Murder,” and it’s being produced by someone that all “Scandal” fans should be very familiar with, Shonda Rhimes. Aside from the cheating, the show actually sounds pretty awesome, as The Hollywood Reporter describes it:
The sexy, suspense-driven legal thriller centers on ambitious law students and their brilliant and mysterious criminal defense professor who become entangled in a murder plot that could rock their entire university and change the course of their lives.
Davis will play Annalise DeWitt, the law professor and renowned criminal defense attorney described as brilliant, passionate, creative, charismatic and ruthless in the courtroom and the classroom. The character is an excellent manipulator of people, particularly her law students — five of whom she selects to work with her at the firm.
Read he rest here.