Black Reality Television: The Rebirth of Fool

TLC’s show ‘The Best Funeral Ever Made,” plays into stereotypical representations of blacks on television and film. (Screen shot)

Writing for, the BurtonWire’s Editor-in-Chief Nsenga K. Burton, Ph.D. discusses the horrible representations of blacks in the latest reality programming featuring black casts. Check out an excerpt below:

While we’re spending hours upon hours debating one film on social networks and in the media, tomfoolery is raging on TLC and Oxygen in the form of reality-television programming that has little to no entertainment value and is more exploitative than any Tarantino film could ever be. As my late grandmother would say, we are “focused on the wrong thing.” The images of blacks as buffoons, jezebels, coons and Aunt Jemimas are circulating through our living rooms on a daily onslaught in the form of reality-TV promos, reruns and marathons.

As if trying to survive the damage done to our televisual images by Real Housewives of Atlanta, Basketball Wives and Love and Hip Hop franchises isn’t enough to manage, here comes a slew of shows that would make the “ladies” of those shows gasp and swoon.

In all honesty, I could barely get through the first episode of Best Funeral Ever, a reality show highlighting the Golden Gate funeral home in Dallas, where the narration proclaims, “You may be in a casket, but it can still be fantastic.” The funeral home will do any funeral service one can imagine.

In the first episode, someone who loved Christmas and “bopping” (dancing) is being laid to rest, so the relatives decide to give him a Christmas-themed funeral. Fast-forward to the funeral planners, who are in a costume shop bopping around wearing a snowman head throughout the store.

Surprise, surprise: The funeral planners become engaged in a power struggle over the planning, which appears to be going off budget, with one planner saying that she can’t be “undisciplined.” Undisciplined? You’re bopping around a costume shop wearing a snowman’s head in preparation for a funeral, and you’re worried about the budget?

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