The first of a set of promo pictures from the new CW television series, Beauty and the Beast, a reboot of the 1980s television series. In this series, police detective Catherine Chandler is played by Kristen Kreuk and her fellow detective, Tess Vargas, is played by Nina Lisandrello.
The role of Catherine Chandler was originated by a white actress in the 1980s (Linda Hamilton) and the role of Tess Vargas is written on IMDB as “Tess O’Malley,” suggesting that the character was originally supposed to be Irish.
So here we have two “racebent” roles, and the result is a show that features two women of color working in the police force as partners!
At the ComicCon panel for Beauty and the Beast, the showrunners explained that this pairing exists in the real world in police forces, but is something that is rarely, if ever, depicted. (The trope that women doing police work or really, any kind of work, are partnered up with a man.) The showrunners are also women and they plan on addressing some of the sexism that women who are police officers experience through Catherine’s story.
Once again, it’s time for our annual deep dive into the state of Race on TV.
Last year was our first foray into the sensitive topic of Race on TV and this year promises to be another challenge. Why you ask? Well, as much as some would like to think that ever since Obama’s election, race is no longer a factor; others, including yours truly, would beg to differ.
Last year, we discovered that things were pretty bleak out there in the Network TV world. With NBC leading the pack and CBS trailing at the bottom, it was heartbreaking to see that this supposedly “post racial” world in which all races are fairly represented in our five major networks just doesn’t exist yet. For minorities out there searching for someone that resembles them on the small screen, it can be a very difficult feat.
This year, as we wade through this uneasy exercise once more, let us keep in mind that the goal is not to bring affirmative action to TV but rather to highlight a reality that cannot be ignored. It’s one thing to believe there is a serious lack of racial diversity on TV but it’s quite another to see the numbers for yourself……..
These stats aren’t a perfect metric—there is no way the regularly tactless and racially problematic Glee gets an A in my book—but it’s a good look at how there can still be shows that have no people of color in lead roles, how most shows still just tokenize, and how sad that is.