This So-Called Post-Post-Racial Life

January 8, 2010

Images for No. 1 Ladies

I was very happy to see that the amazing HBO series, The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, has been nominated for three NAACP Image Awards: Outstanding Drama Series, Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series for Jill Scott, and Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for Anika Noni Rose.

I first wrote about the show the night after its premier:

Last night, about halfway through The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency I realized that I had been tense since the program began. It only took me a moment to figure out why. I had been so looking forward to it, so hopeful for it. But I feared that I would be let down.

But what I suddenly felt at that moment was…relief.

Also, a sort of a feeling of revelation. It is actually possible to depict Black people (and, more specifically, Black African people) without having the required one good White person? Perhaps the White school teacher from Britain with a heart of gold…. Or a White American missionary who begins the tale with ambivalent feelings about the dark people but, through a series of heartwarming interactions and growth-inducing traumatic experiences, comes to terms with both his underlying racism against Blacks and his disappointment with his God…. Or a White female Australian there to save the apes from the ravages of a changing global ecosystem and the bias and ignorance of the natives who have lived amongst the apes for generations….

No? None of these obligatory White characters are present? Just Black Africans going about their daily business and lives? Africans who are proud of and happy in their country (Botswana, in this case) and are not looking to escape to somewhere else? Africans who have the capacity for tremendous good, tremendous bad, and all levels of complexity in between? Africans who face plagues and violence and the tug-of-war of the old and the new with bravery and grace?

The very notion of such a program appearing on my television set is almost too much to comprehend….

I did comprehend the program. And wrote about it regularly. (My posts on the program can be found here.) Sadly, the series is not currently filming a second season and it does not appear as if it will any time soon—although the show’s producers and HBO are said to be “in conversations” to figure out a way to bring it back. I really do miss The No. 1 Ladies and hope that these discussions will be fruitful. Until then, I know what I will be rooting for if I watch the Image Awards.

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5 Comments »

  1. Now the trick is for them to put a show like this on regular television…. Cable is the easy part.

    Comment by citizen ojo — January 10, 2010 @ 11:47 pm

  2. I agree. I think that it would be very difficult for a show like this to find an audience on network TV, however. First, the pace is much slower than most TV programs, and second the stories probably take the full hour (not an hour less commercials) to develop.

    For example, “Frank’s Place” was similar in complexity and pace and it never had a chance.

    But I hope that does not stop people from trying. One season of a high quality show is worth 5 seasons of Flavor of Love or some other such nonsense.

    Comment by pprscribe — January 11, 2010 @ 8:54 am

  3. I’m glad to hear this! That is one of my very favorite tv shows… and oddly, I never even noticed that there are no whites in it.

    Comment by Kit (Keep It Trill) — January 15, 2010 @ 9:59 pm

  4. If only the nominations for No. 1 Ladies would motivate HBO to start up the second season! “Frank’s Place” is a good comparison. I really miss that show and I didn’t realize how it was head and shoulders above other shows until it was gone.

    Comment by Claudia — January 18, 2010 @ 9:23 am

  5. Kit and Claudia: My fingers are crossed!

    Comment by pprscribe — January 21, 2010 @ 10:05 am


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