This is such a fantastic idea for the next generation of TV that could stand on the shoulders of the success of The Wire and Mad Men. I’m trying not to quote the whole piece but here’s the part that encapsulates the pitch.
We did Mad Men, the well-lit, glossy “before” picture of white America, taken just as the civil rights movement was about to upend Madison Avenue’s cushy status quo. And we’ve done The Wire, the gritty “after” shot of urban America in the wake of white flight and the drug war. But we skipped the middle chapter. We haven’t done the part about how America stopped being Mad Men and turned into The Wire. That would be the story of the failure of racial integration in the 1970s.
I see a television show in my head. Set in an integrating working- and middle-class neighborhood of a Great American City. Black and white neighbors trying, and failing, to coexist. We follow its residents to school, to church, to the office, to city hall. We follow the white establishment power brokers and a newly elected black mayor as they cynically carve up the cityscape to their mutual benefit. We follow the black company man who’s fighting his way into middle management, fighting the conservative obstructionism of the old boys’ network on one side while enduring the gooey condescension of white liberals on the other. We go with the black kids on the bus out to the hostile, lily-white nether regions of suburbia. We follow the white ladies in the PTA and their husbands at the city planning meetings, wrestling with white guilt but always acting out of panicky self-interest. We follow the interracial newlyweds, wondering how to raise their mixed-race kids in the midst of all of the above.
Season after gripping season, we watch what happens as school busing and affirmative action and all these other programs try to force the country together, only to tear it apart. It’s got everything: the sprawling, interlocking narrative of The Wire plus the production values and period detail of Mad Men, all set in the Superfly 1970s. It’s a rising tide of Black-is-Beautiful, Afro-American consciousness crashing headlong into the poor fashion choices and stony self-entitlement of a silent suburban majority. Think of the costume design. Think of the soundtrack.
It’s a show that’s practically begging to be made. People would watch it, and it would be good for America. Or we could just sue ABC to get more black ladies on The Bachelor. I’m sure that would work, too.
I haven’t had cable for at least four or five years, but, if HBO greenlit this, I’d buck up for HBO so fast it’d make your head spin.
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