Toward a More Perfect Primetime

Sarah Seltzer has written extensively on The Sisterhood about television’s resistance to developing characters of color.

She has wondered why all of the titular girls of HBO’s “Girls,” are white girls, and has challenged the idea that a more diverse cast would make the show any less “real.” “We live in an era in which homogeneity isn’t mandatory for authenticity,” she wrote last week.

And as “Mad Men” returned to the air last month after a 17-month hiatus, Sarah made the case for the hit AMC series to take its portrayals of black characters beyond the symbolic:

So it’s not surprising that when The New York Times was looking to host on its website a lively debate about race in primetime, they’d ask Sarah to participate.

In her Times piece, she challenges the “lazy assumption” that white characters will appeal to everyone, but that black characters will appeal only to black audiences. She gives viewers more credit that that —  producing evidence, in the success of “The Good Wife” and “The Office,” that they care more about compelling stories than if the onscreen protagonist wears their precise shade of foundation.

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