When it comes to places that enable racism, work environment, including the set of TV shows, is among the places where black community experience unfair treatment or being the subject of stereotypes.
AceShowbiz -America has been trying to fight against systemic racism, especially following the death of George Floyd who was killed during arrest in Minneapolis. When it comes to places that enable racism, work environment, including the set of TV shows, is among the places where black community experience unfair treatment or being the subject of stereotypes, prompting some of them being called out.
In some cases, the racism scandal emerged after the staff or the cast members themselves spoke out about their experiences while working on the problematic shows. In some other cases, it’s the viewers who called out the show for allegedly treating and making characters based on hurtful stereotypes. Additionally, people were also being critical to shows which lack diversity when it comes to its cast.
In the wake of the fight for social justice for black community, here are nine TV shows that have been engulfed in racism scandal over the years.
1. The Ellen DeGeneres Show
Ellen DeGeneres‘ popular TV show “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” recently made headlines after toxic work environment and racism allegations against the show surfaced online. A former employee claimed that she experienced acts of racism and “microaggressions” during her time on set.
A senior-lever producer allegedly told her that she had “box braids.” Additionally, she claimed a writer on the award-winning talk show told her, “I’m sorry, I only know the names of the white people who work here,” at a work function.
In response to the claims, host Ellen broke her silence on Thursday, July 30 in an internal memo. The 62-year-old TV personality wrote that she’s “sorry” for what happened and claimed that she had been misrepresented. “I promise to do my part in continuing to push myself and everyone around me to learn and grow. It’s important to me and to Warner Bros. that everyone who has something to say can speak up and feels safe doing so,” she wrote, before apologizing to those who didn’t “love working” on the show.
Not only one, but two “Riverdale” stars came out with allegations of racism on set. Vanessa Morgan, who plays Toni Topaz on The CW’s teen drama series, called out the show for the lack of diversity as she voiced her frustration over how black people are often portrayed in media as “thugs, dangerous or angry scary people.”
“Tired of us also being used as side kick non dimensional characters to our white leads. Or only used in the ads for diversity but not actually in the show. It starts with the media. I’m not being [quiet] anymore,” so she wrote on Twitter on May 31.
Later in July, it was Bernadette Beck who criticized the way the series depicted her character Peaches ‘N Cream, a bisexual member of the Pretty Poisons, and felt that she was just there to “fulfill a diversity quota.” Additionally, during her interview with ELLE magazine, the English native accused the show’s director of making her feel “invisible” on set.
3. The Simpsons
“The Simpsons” came under fire for its portrayal of one of its characters, Indian-American owner of Springfield’s Kwik-E-Mart convenience store Apu Nahasapeemapetilon. As the character is depicted as someone with exotic curled “R”s and the nasally twang, it didn’t sit well with comedian Hari Kondabolu who later in 2017 made a short documentary called “The Problem with Apu”, criticizing white actor Hank Azaria who voiced the character.
“Apu was an emotionally developed character, much more so than other Simpsons characters, he cared about his family and worked tirelessly to support them. He was also allowed to be zany and kooky – he wasn’t just there in the background, he had his own plot lines, he was neurotic, unique, not just a prop for diversity,” Kondabolu said at the time.
It was once rumored that “The Simpsons” would remove Apu altogether from the show, though it was denied by EP Al Jean. Meanwhile, Azaria’s response to the criticism didn’t come until this January when he announced that he stepped down from his role as Apu. “We all made the decision together… We all agreed on it. We all feel like it’s the right thing and good about it,” he said of the decision.
4. Vanderpump Rules
Bravo’s “Vanderpump Rules is also among TV shows which were hit with racism scandal surrounding its cast members. It started after Faith Stowers claimed during an Instagram Live chat with “Floribama Shore” star Candace Rice that Stassi Schroeder and Kristen Doute racially profiled her in the past. According to her, they called police on her over a crime she did not do.
After being called out, both Schroeder and Doute issued a public apology to Stowers. Schroeder said in her statement, “I have grown significantly from the person I was then, and I am still filled with remorse and regret for the hurt I caused,” as Doute clarified in a separate statement, “I’m ashamed, embarrassed, and incredibly sorry. I will do better. I have to do better.”
Despite the apology, Bravo decided to cut ties with both Schroeder and Doute. “Bravo and Evolution Media confirmed today that Stassi Schroeder, Kristen Doute, Max Boyens and Brett Caprioni will not be returning to ‘Vanderpump Rules’,” the network said in a statement on June 9.
5. Boy Meets World
Her time on “Boy Meets World” may not be the best memory to recall for Trina McGee. The actress, who played Angela Moore on the show, claimed in a series of tweets in January that she had endured extreme racism, as she was “called aunt Jemima on set during hair and make up.”
The now-50-year-old actress then revealed that she received that kind of treatment from main actors Ben Savage, Danielle Fishel and Will Friedle. A week after the tweets resurfaced in April, Friedle “apologized to me 22 years ago and again days ago in a in a three-page letter.” She added, “Will apologized to me and I forgave him, I then apologized to him for making the statements public because his joke came out of just not knowing, not viciousness and he forgave me. That’s what friends do.”
Trina also said that she and Fishel now have a “decent relationship” after the latter apologized to her in a tweet. Speaking to to Yahoo Entertainment, Trina shared, “We did discuss it recently, because she called me to apologize. She was going through a lot at the time on a person level. My relationship with her right now is decent. We’re very complimentary of each other.”
“Survivor” may be one the longest-running reality series existing now, but it isn’t free of racism scandal. Ramona Gray Amaro, the first black person to compete on the CBS show, got candid in a July interview about her experience while appearing on the show’s first season in 2000, “Survivor: Borneo.”
Accusing the show of harmful stereotypes, Amaron said, “I became the lazy person, which is the furthest thing from the truth. That really upset me and it took me a long time to get over it. … To realize, we signed our life away. They can do whatever they want to do.”
Fellow black alum J’Tia Hart then took the complaint to a more concrete action by creating a petition on MoveOn.org, demanding changes on the show to help diversify the program. The petition asked the show to insure at least 30 percent of the show’s cast is black, indigenous or people of color (BIPOC).
7. Big Brother
Over the past 20 years, “Big Brother” has been criticized for racism and discrimination. Among the racist action done by its cast members included Aaryn Gries calling Asian people “squinty-eyed” and referring her black roommate Candice Stewart “Aunt Jemima.” Not stopping there, he asked Korean houseguest Helen Kim to “go make some rice.”
Meanwhile, season 21 contestant Kemi Fakunle claimed that she was disgusted by aggressive comments made by Jack Matthews during the live feeds. He allegedly said that he wanted to “stomp a mud hole through [Fakunle’s] chest,” in addition to calling Fakunle “disgusting” and a “maggot.” He also called Isabella Wang, who is Asian-American, “rice pudding.”
In response to the matter, CBS said in a statement that “there is absolutely no truth that the casting of the show is racially motivated, that the houseguests’ behavior is predetermined or that the outcome is controlled in any way.” After being confronted by host Julie Chen, Matthews apologized to Fakunle, but denied being racist to Wang.
8. The Bachelor Franchise
Also being criticized for the lack of diversity in its cast members is “The Bachelor” franchise. It takes 24 seasons and 13 seasons for “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette” respectively to have a black contestant as the lead.
Back in June, Rachel Lindsay, the first black lead on “The Bachelorette”, discussed “a racist contestant on my season,” referring to Lee Garrett. “They said they hadn’t done a good job of vetting out that he was racist or had done racist things in the past — but I would hope in the future it would never happen again. They received a lot of heat from that,” she explained.
Further wanting to change things, “The Bachelor” announced in June that Matt James would front the 25th run of the show, marking the first black male to lead the ABC dating show in the franchise’s history. “I think we’re all following suit in that conversation, and this is hopefully… the first of many black men to be in the position that I’m in now (sic),” James said of being the first Bachelor.
9. America’s Got Talent
“America’s Got Talent” made headlines in November 2019 after Gabrielle Union claimed that she received racist treatment and discrimination during her time serving as a judge on the show, prompting her to exit the show after only one season. In addition to having a tension with fellow judge Simon Cowell due to his smoking habit, it was said that the show fired the actress because her hair was “too black” for the show’s audience.
That prompted NBC, Fremantle and Syco officials to launch an internal investigation to look into the allegations. They later shared in a joint statement to reveal the results, concluding that “no one associated with the show made any insensitive or derogatory remarks about Ms. Union’s appearance, and that neither race nor gender was a contributing factor in the advancement or elimination of contestants at any time.”
In response to the results, the “Bring It On” star sued Cowell, Syco, Freemantle Productions North America, and Universal TV by filing a harassment, discrimination and retaliation complaint with California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing. She also claimed that NBC Entertainment Chairman Paul Telegdy directly intervened in the investigation, sparked by her complaints, to “silence and intimidate” her.
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