Writing for his blog Phillbranch.com, writer and Howard University lecturer Phill Branch has penned a blog post entitled, “Shondaland Black Moment Wish List.” In the post, Branch compiles a list of things he would love to see on television mogul Shonda Rhimes’ breakaway ABC hit shows Scandal and How to Get Away with Murder (HTGAWM). What drove him to create this list?
When Shonda Rhimes had Papa Pope tell Olivia that she had to be “twice as good as ‘them’ to get half of what ‘they’ have,” and the seminal moment in television history when Annalise (whose Mama named her Annie Mae) took off her wig and make-up in a nearly perfect moment in television history.
Check out Branch’s article in its entirety below:
When Shonda Rhimes had Papa Pope tell Olivia that she had to be “twice as good as ‘them’ to get half of what ‘they’ have,” I wanted to stand and start a slow-clap. That moment was both very real and very black. I loved it. I was pretty certain that I wouldn’t see anything that authentic on TV again anytime soon, but then Annalise snatched off her wig on How to Get Away With Murder.
When I came to, I realized that I had apparently been rewinding that scene in some sort of cultural-overload induced trance for 20 minutes. The next day, I went in to teach my Freshman Comp class at Howard and threw out the syllabus. I knew my students needed me to help them process their wig-snatch emotions. One student eloquently summed it all up, “It was the blackest thing I’ve ever seen on TV.”
I was pretty certain that Shonda was done giving us black history moments this season, but then Cicely Tyson popped up out of nowhere, grabbed a comb and got up in Viola/Annalise/Anna Mae’s “kitchen.” The sight of Annalise sitting betwixt her mama’s knees, while I listened to the crackling sound of ungreased black hair was more than I could handle. I was overwhelmed with the realization that despite the growing numbers of black people on screen, very few moments artfully and realistically capture cultural nuances. It got me to thinking. Now that Shonda has snatched wigs, combed kitchens and shown the speech that almost err’ black parent gives their child, what’s coming next?
My ShondaLand Black Moment Wish List:
1. Step Practice
It doesn’t have to be a major part of the plot, but I need Annalise or Olivia to be at step practice when a client calls with an emergency. Their phones would ring, because, well, they never turn them off. They’d step out of practice to take the call, “Sorry sorors.” Hell, it can even be the young lady who’s a law student on HTGAWM, whose character’s name I’ve yet to remember. You KNOW what she pledged
2. Go to Macy’s
Let’s be clear. Neither Olivia or Annalise would regularly (ever) shop at Macy’s, but keeping it 100, they have family and friends. Sure they make a considerable amount of money now, but they’re both only one generation removed from a “One Day Sale.” Let one of them begrudgingly buy a cousin a Nine West bag.
3. Watch Melissa Harris Perry
Olivia and Annalise work in law and politics, are black, and own televisions. No brainer.
4. Refuse to eat office potluck
As a kid, I wasn’t allowed to eat at new friends’ houses, because “you don’t know if they’re clean.” I was NEVER allowed to at someone’s house who had cats, because “they be up on everything.” Am I alone? No? I didn’t think so. You know Annalise, back when she was Anna Mae, wasn’t eating all over at people’s houses. I’d like to see her politely decline to eat somebody’s homemade lasagna with a “You can’t be eating everybody’s food.”
5. Do “The Wobble”
Last fall I attended my class reunion at Hampton. We packed the local convention center for a party with about 800 people who range from soccer moms, lawyers, TV network executives, surgeons, professors, elected officials, etc. They eat kale, summer in Martha’s Vineyard, are on boards for renowned organizations, drink fine wine, but you know what they did when The Wobble came on? They wobbled. If Shonda has Olivia do The Wobble, black America will collectively throw their shoes at their TVs. – and then get up and wobble.
Bonus: I’d fully expect one of Shonda’s shows to automatically win the NAACP Image Award for Best Drama if she has one of her characters utter, “Black don’t crack.”
What’s on your Shondaland Black Moment Wish List? Share with us @TheBurtonWire.