Thursday, January 10, 2013

Dear NBC

Dear NBC,

I've heard about your new show, "1600 Penn."

I don't know much about it yet.  What I do know, I'm not thrilled about.

The cast is very white.  Seven white people and one black man whose character is described as "savvy" and "loyal."  Thrilling, to have the lone black character work for the powerful white man in charge.

Here in the real world, the people living at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue are black.  Now, I wouldn't necessarily love a current sitcom about a black First Family, because I wouldn't trust it not to be read as a commentary on the Obamas.  However, you could create a more diverse cast by adding more roles or by making the First Family multi-racial.

On the show's home page, I see the same image twice, once as a stand-alone shot and once as a video still.  It's a shot of the characters with the "fat" eldest son comically breaking the table he's sitting on, presumably by being too heavy for it.  The other characters are laughing and looking dismayed.  I would hope that a new sitcom that hasn't even aired yet would bring some fresh comedy ideas, but "fat people are too heavy for the world around them and frequently break furniture with their huge fat asses and it's extra hilarious because they should know better but ha ha ha fat people are too stupid to realize how fat they are" is a theme we've all seen too many times to count.  It's not new.  It's not interesting.  It's old and tired and stale, and the fact that you're relying on such overdone tropes for your show's advertising tells me that you don't have anything better to offer.

Largely white cast with one token person of color in a subservient role.  Fat jokes.  It's not looking good.

The friend who alerted me to your new show said that it's being promoted as NBC's answer to "Modern Family."  Here are a few things "Modern Family" has that you might want to consider:

Three people of color.  Two gay characters.  An out gay actor in one of those roles.  Fat characters who make it through many an episode without breaking furniture with their enormous fat asses.

Please add more diversity and tone down the fat jokes.  I'd really like to have a new sitcom to add to my to-watch list, but as things stand, I'll give "1600 Penn" a pass.

With love,
Frank Lee

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