TV Smarty Talks about The Emmy Awards

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TV Smarty in a Dress talks about the Emmy Awards and a Jessica Simpson dress.

Today’s TV Smarty in a Dress is about this week’s Emmy Awards, but first I have a confession. I didn’t watch the show. YES, TV Smarty in a dress didn’t tune in to see the TV awards and all of the dresses. Instead, I followed Variety’s Twitter feed and got constant updates about the winners on my iPad. I watched the UK version of House of Cards on my laptop. My use technology on Monday night made the entire Emmy Show seem more antiquated than it already is.. . . . Click link for more.


Comic-Con–Women Who Kick Ass Panel’s Isha Aran posted a great article about TV’s women at Comic-Con. She shares some thoughts from women that have powerful roles on television.  Sleepy Hollow’s Nicole Beharie reminds us that we need to stand in our power and don’t apologize for it.

“A lot of different men will come on as day players or guest parts, and I recognize that there’s a certain strength that I have now, or a certain command that I have being one of the leads on the show that I hadn’t had before…. Just owning that space and not being expected, as a woman, to shrink, or curtsy, or any of those sort of things.”

TV is My Friend



I love television and. . . .at the risk of sounding like a freewheeling kook. . . it is my buddy.

It hangs out with me on rainy days, while I do my homework, and as I fold my laundry.  I look forward to weekly visits from my televised friends as much as I look forward to my Sunday phone call from my old college roommate Lori.

Like any friendship, there are ebbs and flows.  TV can surprise and delight me.  Or she can disappoint me with some unfortunate decisions. Sometimes a friend moves away, but a new kid comes on the block and a new relationship can begin. And like the friendships I have in life, the programs that I enjoy are from different walks of life and thrill and challenge me in different ways.

As the television season is ending and a new one has been introduced at network upfronts, I am reflective of the relationships that sustained me from this television season.

I have had such fun watching Hollywood Game Night on Thursdays.  The combination of the celebs and civilians playing silly games makes me smile. The grandeur of Downton Abbey (heck, most of Masterpiece Theatre) always adds international class to my Sunday nights.  And even though the self-centered angst of all four of the Girls can be infuriating, I always know who they are.  They are frustratingly consistent.

Shonda Rhimes took a strange turn with the spy-dad story on Scandal creating a confusing and somewhat dull season. I visited every week, but not with the same enthusiasm as I had in the past. Similarly, Harry Connick, Jennifer Lopez and Keith Urban have made a fun playgroup, but American Idol’s humdrum contestants left me cold.

This television season also saw the departure of some dear friends. Grey’s Anatomy’s Christina Yang (Sandra Oh), Person of Interest’s Officer Joss Carter (Taraji P. Henson), and it’s just plain foolish to get too close to any of the Game of Thrones characters.

Still, much like camp, we make new friends in the summer.  For example, in June, Murder in the First on TNT brings Taye Diggs back to television as a homicide detective.  In July, WeTV’s The Divide willoffer a diverse cast with the lead, Marin Ireland, questioning her role in a man’s death sentence.

And, like having a new friend with a swimming pool or an Easy Bake Oven, online viewing offers a decadently selfish way to replace much of the time spent with traditional television viewing.  Not only can I stream a missed episode of The Americans, but I can catch up on those I’ve been meaning to see such as full seasons of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Parenthood, and The Goldbergs.

The Internet has also provided opportunities for producers to create original programming without the structural bounds of traditional broadcast and cable networks. Netflix and Amazon Prime have cultivated their own series.  Now programs such as House of Cards and Alpha House give audiences alternatives to the weekly viewing that has long been the foundation of commercial television.

Akin to sitting at a different table in the cafeteria, there is a bit of naughtiness in the change. Much like the first original programming on HBO (Dream On and The Larry Sanders Show), this Over-the-Top content is sophisticated, quirky, and slightly controversial.

This type of programming features characters that are diverse and complex, letting viewers get to know personalities they may not have otherwise met. For example, Orange is the New Black’s transgendered actress Laverne Coxas credit card thief Sophia Burset has been one to watch this year.

All right, even though I’m passionate about them, I have to admit that I know these aren’t really my friends.  The word “friends” implies a two way relationship—one that requires reciprocated trust and mutual bonds.  The characters I find on the screens in my home don’t actually like me back.  Still, unlike real friends, they don’t want to share my pizza and never ask for a ride to the airport.







Shading the Truth: Colorism in our Media World

lupita By Naeemah Clark

Nude pantyhose don’t look good on me. Every woman of color knows that she has to dig through the department store shelf in the hopes of finding the color that is right for her. By doing so, we accept that we are not the norm, not the default. This form of colorism happens all the time, so I should be used to it. But I’m not. Instead, it’s death by 1,000 cuts. Colorism is magnified when we look at media representations of African American women. I was reminded of the hurt that colorism can cause when one of my students, through tears in her eyes, looked at a magazine cover featuring Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o. Nyong’o has rich chocolate brown skin and a closely cropped natural hair. And she is fabulous. My student’s tears were of joy because she too is chocolate brown with short hair and is fabulous. Her tears were mixed with joy and bitterness. Nyong’o’s cover served as a reminder of how rare it is to see a dark skinned actress celebrated as a beauty on the big screen. Cinematographers and photographers explain (in what may be cut 1,001) that it is easier to light a set when the models have fairer skin and are all similar in tone. While this may be based in truth, we have become accustomed to seeing African-American women that have light brown skin and facial features that align with the norms associated with the standards of white beauty. Hollywood has long considered lighter skinned women from Lena Horne to Halle Berry to be commercially acceptable images of African-American beauty. These feelings can be deep and powerful. Nyong’o herself recently admitted to feeling shame about her skin tone as a youth. She wished she would wake up with lighter skin. And mourned when she saw she remained the same in the night. Now she celebrates it. Unfortunately not all women feel the same way about themselves. It is a poorly kept secret that some prominent African American stars have used damaging (even carcinogenic) pills, creams and soaps to lighten their skin. The dangerously emotional drive to be lighter has a dark past. This definition of African-American beauty has a long history stemming from slavery. Lighter skinned slaves—those born of a slave and her master—generally received better treatment on the plantation. This notion of light privilege was extended within members of the same race. Post-slavery, some African American society events would only allow entrance if the party-goer were lighter than the pale brown shade of a paper bag. It is here where the cuts are the deepest. Colorism from the media controlled by African Americans allows the white standards of beauty to dictate how we feel about ourselves. In a more recent example, African American director Lee Daniels was criticized for casting actors with lighter skin (Mariah Carey and Lenny Kravitz) as being the saviors in the 2009 movie Precious while the darker skinned characters (Gabourey Sidibe and Monique) were put upon and damaged. And just last month, popular radio host Tom Joyner has been promoting a water gun fight between lighter skinned and darker skinned passengers on a cruise he sponsors. Incidentally, this annual cruise serves as a fundraiser to send African-Americans kids to college. This real battle represents the pain and division that colorism has created in the African American community. The divide can be bridged in two ways. First, the media can do better. People of different hues must be hired as models, romantic leads, and heroes. And magazine covers must stop using computerized editing to lighten the skin color of people on the cover. Nyong’o looks sublime on the cover of Vanity Fair magazine’s Hollywood issue that celebrates the Academy Award, but it is clear that her skin tone has been brightened through the magic of the fashion industry. We already know that Photoshop is used to shave off weight or smooth out a wrinkle, but when it is used to alter the rich differences in a racial group it must be critiqued as supporting a systematic racial chasm. Second, and most importantly, African Americans have to dismiss notions of “good hair” and that “light is right.” We have to acknowledge that our American lineage is made up a range of ethnicities that have produced a multi-hued race. For evidence, look through the family photo album. I love looking through photos and seeing the wide ranges of shades that contributed to the beautiful deep walnut color of my father, the golden tones of my mother and the shades of my sisters and me somewhere in between.