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Cerritos College • Norwalk, Calif.

Talon Marks

Cerritos College • Norwalk, Calif.

Talon Marks

Cerritos College • Norwalk, Calif.

Talon Marks

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Black Shows Take Center Stage on the Chopping Block

Cancelled+shows+left+to+right%3A+The+Get+Down%2C+Rap+Sh%21t+and+Black+Lightning+
Ifeoma Utom
Cancelled shows left to right: “The Get Down”, “Rap Sh!t” and “Black Lightning”

It feels as though because black people do not make up the majority, our shows are now subjected to cancellation due to “lack of viewership” based on ratings that reflect the masses.

Imagine you find a show that’s everything you are into: sci-fi, horror, comedy, drama, romance on top of having great representation with the first season blowing your mind with an engaging plot but then…it’s canceled?

This has been the trajectory of so many black shows in the span of 3 years from 2020-2023, and honestly, it’s quite aggravating.

Shows like​​ “The Get Down” on Netflix, “Rap Sh!t” on HBO, and “Black Lightning” on CW that have a majority black cast and specifically tailored towards a black audience, were placed on the chopping board with some shows unable to even get a season two.

What is disheartening to be conscious of is, that the shows that are being canceled are shows that mean something to the collective, uplift, share history, bring hope, and promote creativity.

While shows that promote stereotypes, and captivate the audience through instigation and turmoil, encouraging drama and discourse within the black community is what will have seasons upon seasons and continued franchises.

Take for instance the show “The Get Down” created by Baz Luhrmann and Stephen Adly Guirgis with collaborators Catherine Martin, Nas, Grandmaster Flash, and hip-hop historian Nelson George that Netflix picked up.

“The Get Down” was a beautifully written show set in the 1970s within the Bronx borough of New York City, chronicling the rise of hip-hop and disco music, as witnessed by a group of African American teenagers.

With an all black main cast, understandably this show was tailored toward a black audience but after a one-two part series, the show was canceled due to production troubles and low ratings.

But let’s take a look at shows such as Love and Hip-hop, a reality TV show on VH1 with a predominantly black cast that you can watch on numerous streaming sites including Hulu, Netflix, and BET+.

The show broadcasts love triangles, drama, violence, colorism, and profanity, polluting the minds of our youth while doing absolutely nothing to encourage or inspire the community– yet the show has 3 franchises and has been on the air for over a decade with more seasons upcoming.

Black people are more than fighting on television, engaging in love triangles, swearing, and using obscene language. We are artists, musicians, creatives, and superheroes and we want to see our shows reflect that and inspire that.

What these streaming services should do is look at the demographics, specifically in ethnicities, that watch shows like “Black Lightning” a show centered around black superheroes (officially the shortest lineup in the Arrowverse so far), and make note of black viewership, not the masses, then decide is that show is worth the cancellation.

A trend is being noticed especially after HBO announced Issa Rae’s “Rap Sh!t” was canceled on Jan. 18th of this year.

One fan @IAMNJERA went on “X”, formerly known as Twitter to say, “First real TV show about Southern Black women navigating the rap game and it doesn’t make it past 2 seasons. I won’t go on a tangent about how much this sucks for the future of diverse storytelling, but know that Rap Sh!t indeed made an impact on the folks it was intended for.”

These shows have indeed made their mark. Our community has to advocate for these shows and cling to the representation they provide but when you aren’t the majority’s priority you unfortunately succumb to the majority’s rule. Will there ever be a middle ground?

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About the Contributor
Ifeoma Utom, Co-News Editor
Ifeoma Utom is the co-news editor for Talon Marks covering all things news related on Cerritos College campus. When she is not news reporting, Ifeoma loves to enjoy a nice book to read or hanging out with her friends. She writes poetry in her spare time and enjoys the fine arts of opera and ballet. Ifeoma will graduate this spring semester and plans to take some time off to travel and explore what the world has to offer.
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