I was channel surfing and landed on Family Fued (Steve Harvey doesn’t annoy me as much as I wish he would and he makes for quite an entertaining game show host). The episode was almost over and the feuding families were in the middle of the triple points round. Down to the wire, one family had to make a guess in order to to steal the points and win big. Dispersing in hopeful anticipation from their secretive thought huddle, the Mancini* family gives Steve their guess for the win. The board lights up in a giant red X, the opposing Jackson* family jumps for joy and I fist pump in celebration along with them.
Remember I just tuned in, I haven’t seen any of the game so why am I happy that the Jackson family won? Probably, because they are Black.
I almost automatically root for the Black people on the shows I watch: Project Runway, Top Chef, Next Design Star, Cash Cab, (apparently) Family Feud and I am not sure how I feel about this support. I tend to like the Black people on the reality shows and I feel that they deserve to win but I must admit they get my attention initially because they are Black.
There is a lot of unpacking that can or should be done about this. Feelings of association or solidarity, supporting the underdog, celebrating the few Black faces on the screen, accepting stereotypes, all possible reasons for that literal fist pump at the end of Family Feud.
Another complexity is that this support isn’t across the board. I do not get into the real housewives and Braxton’s stuff. I recently got over a slight addiction to Bad Girls Club and I plan to remain reality show girl-fight free. I also don’t do Tyler Perry and there are lots of Black people to support there, what’s the problem? I want to say this is due to personal taste, but I am sure there’s a bit of judgement in my choice to to partake in these shows.
All in all, I feel that just as I would support Caribbean representatives at the Olympics or the FIFA Cup I am drawn to pay attention to black talent on Project Runway. My Black favorites never win on the ‘talent’ based reality shows (Project Runway, Top Chef etc) and I think this further engages my underdog fantasies. I usually have back-up POC favorites (trust that they are usually back-ups) who sometimes pull through with a victory and it feels good.
As I said earlier I don’t know how I feel about this. Should I take this more seriously? I do want to check any stereotypes that may inform these choices, I don’t know any of these people and making choices based on skin color alone? Thinking about it out loud makes it quite scary. Do other people do this from their couches in the comfort of their homes? It’s only TV? Do I think beyond this or pretend that I don’t think this way in polite company or when I have to make real decisions involving real people? It’s getting complicated.
Fyah family, what do you think? Is this something I should take seriously? Do any of you root similarly?
***names simulated for dramatic effect