Prime Time Blues: African Americans on Network Television

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9780374237202: Prime Time Blues: African Americans on Network Television

Primetime Blues is the first comprehensive history of African Americans on the network series. Donald Bogle traces the changing roles of African Americans on primetime -- from the blatant stereotypes of television's early years to the more subtle stereotypes of recent eras. Bogle also reveals another equally important aspect of TV history: namely, that television has been invigorated by extraordinary Black performers -- from Ethel Waters and Eddie "Rochester" Anderson to Cicely Tyson, Flip Wilson, Redd Foxx, and those mighty power brokers Cosby and Oprah -- who frequently use the medium to make personal and cultural statements, and whose presence on the tube has been of enormous significance to the African American community. Bogle's exhaustive study moves from the postwar era of Beulah and Amos 'n' Andy to the politically restless sixties reflected in I Spy and the edgy, ultra-hip characters of The Mod Squad. Bogle comments on the short-lived East Side, West Side, the controversial Julia, and the television of the seventies, when a nation still caught up in Vietnam and Watergate retreated to the ethnic humor of Sanford and Son and Good Times; and on the politically conservative eighties, marked by the unexpected success of The Cosby Show. He explores die-hard Bonded Buddies on such series as Spenser: For Hire, and those Teen Dream heroes of Miami Vice. Finally, Bogle turns a critical eye to the television landscape of the nineties -- when Black and white viewers often watched entirely different programs -- with shows such as The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, ER, and The Steve Harvey Show. He also examines TV movies and miniseries such as The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman and Roots. Ultimately, this important book gives us a history rich in personalities and tensions as well as paradoxes and achievements.

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About the Author:

Donald Bogle, one of the country's foremost authorities on African Americans in film, is the author of three prize-winning books. Toms, Coons, Mulattoes, Mammies, and Bucks: An Interpretive History of Blacks in American Films is considered a classic study of Black movie images. Brown Sugar: Eighty Years of America's Black Female Superstars was adapted into a four-part PBS series. Dorothy Dandridge: A Biography won wide critical acclaim. Bogle teaches at the University of Pennsylvania and New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. He lives in Manhattan.

From Publishers Weekly:

From its earliest days, television has always had a problem with color. The advent of Technicolor didn't change the fact that most actors on TV were white. Even in the mid-1970s, when African-American actors began appearing more regularly on network shows, the roles open to them were rigidly circumscribed. In this thoroughly researched, witty and often shocking social history, media scholar Bogle fashions an in-depth chronicle of the way television has mirrored and influenced the politics of race in the U.S. His analysis remains attuned to how the earliest black performersD"Eddie" Rochester on The Jack Benny Show; Ethel Waters, Hattie McDaniel and Louise Beavers playing the indefatigably cheerful black maid Beulah; and Alvin Childress and Spencer Williams in Amos n' AndyDmanaged to communicate authentically with African-American viewers, despite often finding themselves "cast in parts that were shameless, dishonest travesties of African American life and culture." Situating its critique within a broad economic and industry analysis, the book addresses such major issues as the pressure of sponsors and the advent of cable on the portrayal of African-American subject matter. The author of Dorothy Dandridge and Toms, Coons, Mulattos, Mammies, & Bucks, Bogle pulls no punches (e.g., chastising the popular Sanford and Son for what he sees as its anti-Asian racism and homophobia). This major new work in television and media studies will be welcomed by both academics and general readers. 60 b&w photos. Agent, Marie Brown. 5-city author tour. (Feb. 24)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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