Tag Archives: Mad Men

Best Television of 2012

I haven’t written a round-up on television in 10 years. Which is strange because I watch a fair amount of television. As someone who used to want to be a screenwriter, television has always fascinated me because it provides such ample opportunity to explore humanity. I enjoy tremendously watching characters develop over time.

And even though I remain frustrated with the lack of great roles for black actors on television and with the way diversity on television is horribly superficial and disingenuous (its stupid, insulting emphasis on so-called race-blind casting makes me want to throw my television at the wall) there is still quite a lot to enjoy.

Here are the 11 shows that most thrilled me this year, after the jump.

 

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The Wonderful Deepening of Kaldrick King

Andra Fuller as Kaldrick King

Andra Fuller as Kaldrick King

It was while watching Episode 3 of Season 2 that I began to realize that Kaldrick King, played with remarkable focus and depth by the phenomenally talented Andra Fuller, was quite simply the most complex and truly human black homosexual male character ever on television.

Kal throws a party, hiding his pain and anguish in plain sight, when Infinite Jest, a young upstart rapper played by Steven James, challenges his throne. The rap battle between the two men provided the show with the opportunity to underline the fact that Kaldrick King is a performance, a ferocious character that is suffocating the real man even as it is quite literally the only thing he has left. It’s no surprise it takes him a second to drop the pose long enough to stop the beat down of Infinite Jest. Moving in and out of Kaldrick King is just getting harder and harder to do.

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BET’s 2012-2013 Television Lineup Has Some Promise

If you read this blog, you know that I’m quite hard on BET’s shows, The Game and Reed Between The Lines, for not being as good as they should be. But it’s worth stating that it’s terrific to finally be in a position to even critique original programming on the channel. It took forever for BET to start developing projects, so even if their first few shots out the gate aren’t perfect it’s still important that the network is even trying.

Which brings me to BET’s announcement of next year’s television lineup. A new Wayans family production doesn’t excite me, but this does:

Also being fast tracked is “Gun Hill,” which would be BET’s first scripted drama. The series, which stars Larenz Tate and is being developed by Reggie Bythewood (“New York Undercover,” “Get on the Bus”), gives what producers call “a twisted spin to the biblical Cain and Abel story”: The lives of identical twins on opposite sides of the law — one is a cop and the other is a con — become intertwined one night when the cop is killed and the con assumes his identity.

I think the challenge for Bythewood, Tate and BET is to resist the urge to make the show simple. We are in an era where audiences are really responding to nuance and antihero protagonists. It would be great to have a show like that that is about black people.

And with an actor like Tate, who can go from sociopathic O-Dog to charming Darius to the dynamic Frankie Lymon with impressive ease, there is no reason they can’t actually create a multifaceted character to rival Tony Soprano or Don Draper. Because if done right, Gun Hill could have the potential to do for BET what Mad Men did for AMC and The Shield did for FX. To do that, the producers have to eschew the simplistic positive/negative binary and go for broke.

Here’s hoping.