ABC rolled out a bunch of trailers at their upfronts, and while there’s a couple of standouts like Shonda Rhimes’ new lawyer drama We The People and Daveed Diggs’ hip-hop-laced sitcom The Mayor, there’s also an unnerving thread through much of the rest. Most of their new shows could be described as “Doofy White Guy Saves The World With Help From a Frustrated Woman Of Color.”
Seriously. Let’s break it down.
First up, a preposterous new show called Deception. The trailer introduces us to a tough female cop (Ilfenesh Hadera), then in comes pink smoke bombs and the apparent need to call in a douchey magician (Jack Cutmore-Scott). Yeah. What if a tough-as-nails cop had to work with a magician? That’s the premise. Also Vinnie Jones is in here for some reason.
Next up is a refugee drama, where most of the shipwrecked refugees are white people. The Crossing stars Steve Zahn as the least doofy white guy in ABC’s line-up. However, his yoga-loving sheriff knows way less about this time-bending crisis than Natalie Martinez’s gun-toting, seemingly super-powered badass.
Next up is The Gospel of Kevin, where Jason Ritter plays a selfish tool who is forced to move in with his widowed sister and her kid once he’s burned every other bridge in his life. That’s when he’s chosen by God to be a prophet. And his guardian angel/spiritual guide is played by Cristela Alonzo.
In The Good Doctor, Freddie Highmore takes the House route, playing a genius diagnostic with social awkwardness, in this case stemming from autism. All the same, he has a woman of color co-star (Antonia Thomas) to be his sidekick.
If you love Reply All like we do, you might have been looking forward to the TV show based on producer Alex Blumberg’s gamble to start a podcast company. But bad news, it stars Zach Braff. And naturally he has an exasperated wife. She’s played by Tiya Sircar, A.K.A. The Good Place’s Real Eleanor.
This is the actual promo pic for this show. Look at Sicar.
On one hand, yay! We’re getting greater representation of women and people of color on television. On the other, ABC is single-handedly forging a new stereotype of frustrated woman of color, and all because their prime directive seems to be centering a series on a frustrating white dude. Look at these women! Most of them are instantly portrayed as highly competent. Some are even super-powered. And still, the stories are about the white dude who makes their lives hell. Women and people of color are perfectly capable of being compelling leads. It seems insane we need to say that in this day and age. But then you see this fall line-up, and here we are banging the drum again. Could not a single one of the above shows have been flipped to have a protagonist who is not another white dude?
The dramedy Splitting Up Together offers a slight twist on this formula, offering man of color Bobby Lee as the sense-speaking sidekick to Oliver Hudson, urging him to stop being such a jackhole to his soon-to-be ex-wife.
Thank God for Shondaland, giving us some damn respite from male mediocrity and white people nonsense.