WOC_tv

A recent article on The Wrap about Mindy Kaling’s FOX sitcom The Mindy Project got me thinking. In the piece, Jethro Nededog wondered why the show’s title character, an Indian-American doctor, seemed obsessed with White guys.

In his essay, Nededog asks why Kaling’s character exclusively dates White men and what it actually means to the rest of us. He writes:

What’s the message being sent when minority female characters on television exclusively date and regularly lose themselves with white men? And, does it really matter if viewers aren’t even noticing or seem unaffected by the leading lady’s dating choices?

I would venture to say that it does matter and that the message being sent to young minority women who watch “The Mindy Project” – whether they realize it or not — is that the measure of success is not just working your way to the top of your profession but that the ideal signifier for that success is a white partner.

And as for non-white men watching the show, it only reinforces the prevailing standard of attraction that ranks them lower on the desirability scale in our culture.

The Mindy Project isn’t the only show that pairs a woman of color with almost exclusively White love interests. NBC’s now canceled drama Deception, depicted Megan Good’s character involved in a hot romance with her childhood (White) beau, and TV’s most popular drama, Scandal, is fueled by Olivia Pope’s steamy affair with President Fitzgerald Grant. Although Pope has dated non-White men, the only other guy to give the president a run for his money is Jake Ballard, Fitz’s naval pal.

NBC-Deception-Youre-the-Bad-Guy

The fact that women of color rarely have love interests that look like them may be do to the lack of minority women on network TV in the first place. Gone are the days of sitcoms like The Cosby Show, The Hughleys, The George Lopez Show, or My Wife and Kids that showed Black and Brown families on TV. These days, shows are quite homogenous with a person of color thrown in for diversity’s sake.

American television isn’t the only medium where minority characters are often paired with a White partner. In the UK it’s commonplace to see a Black woman married to a White man, or a Black man married to an Asian woman on-screen. However, it’s extremely rare to a Black couple or family on-screen at all.

Like Nededog, I wonder what this type of casting says about the industry’s politics. While White-on-White relationships are shown as the norm, Black, Latino, and Asian couples are rarely seen, despite these types of partnerships most-closely mirroring real life.

When it comes to on-screen love, are women of color only allowed to have White partners? 

215 Comments

  1. play_your_part

    Interracial relationships featuring white men and minority women in TV are the norm. White Americans have transitioned from Hitler’s view of racism where genetic purity was paramount. The new paradigm is the Spanish model of racism, where white men are expected to exercise sexual privilege over all minority women, while white women are considered degenerate if they mix themselves with men of minority races. Your television reflects that on a daily basis.

    • Well in real life white women are exercising all over the place.lol

    • Helen

      So if white do it, it doesn’t count?

  2. Pseudonym

    Basically, you singled out the few shows that show women of color with white love interests and completely ignored everything else that challenges that notion.

    • AJSAY

      Exactly and we all know white women have been “exercising all over the place” as another commenter hilariously pointed out, but if we do it. It’s a problem and we aren’t standing up for our race. Tell that to black men circa 1991 and let us live.

  3. I don’t view interracial romances as the issue, I encourage that, but when series want to do something other than same race couples one of the partners is usually white.

    Too few pairings are with two different racial minorities at least in American television. I think is as important as seeing two people of same race together in loving relationships.

  4. 2gs4reel

    The elephant in the room is the long and savage history of rape and sexual terror white men inflicted upon black women and men and their families for centuries. Couple that with no white man ever successfully being convicted of the crime in a court of law, to my knowledge and you get the responses to Tawana Brawley or the OJ Simpson trial. Let’s unpack that history, which gets touched on in Lee Daniels “The Butler’s” opening scene and we will have something worth discussing. Sadly, even in commercials the blowback from the most innocent Cheerios spot, where the black father doesn’t even appear in the same frame as the white mother but I heard no such concern with the recent Swiffer commercial showing the white father with his black wife and their family. I guess that first kiss from Lt. Uhura opened the floodgates now there’s no pushback, everyone seems comfortable with it, whether it’s Nip Tuck or Monster’s Ball or the Mindy Project or Scandal, everyone is not comfortable with it and there’s good reason.

  5. Dakota Eye

    Hmm, Grey’s Anatomy has a white woman marrying a mixed race man (he’s part black), his mom with a black man, the titular character was a white woman with a black half sister because her white mom was in love with a black man, Callie Torres is a spanish/latina woman married to a white woman, and there’s plenty more.
    House MD had Foreman, a black doctor, date 13, a white woman.

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