Our conversation slipped into reminiscences of all the all-white shows we have known, and whether we are better off with showrunners pretending that people of color didn’t exist. “Bonanza” and “Gunsmoke”—other much-loved staples of that era in our household, would occasionally take a crack at edgier storylines involving race or gender. At best they were ham-fisted; at worst, downright racist.
All-white can sometimes be all right: “The Andy Griffith Show” didn’t have a chance to be particularly racist because it didn’t try for anything beyond sweet simplicity.
These are 50-year-old (or 100-year-old? 1,000-year old?) trade-offs. I must consider the whiteness of “Girls” and “Bunheads” and why Barney almost never sleeps with black women on “How I Met Your Mother” and why “Friends” was set in an impossibly white Manhattan and why the only black girl on “Buffy” was killed in season two and why Mercedes on “Glee” has to be so damn sassy and why Shonda Rhimes is the only showrunner regularly casting people of color in roles that aren’t explicitly People of Color. Or I must opt out altogether and hit up the black internet’s impressive collection of web series.