November 1, 2011

News: IN LIVING COLOR Coming Back

I might be dating myself, but In Living Color was a big part of my childhood, so I was both intrigued and concerned when I learned that FOX will be bringing the sketch comedy show back after seventeen years.

Now, I probably shouldn't have been watching this show while growing up, but my brother was a fan, so I remember watching episodes with him. While I didn't quite understand why some of the bits were funny, they all made sense once I grew up, which made me appreciate the show even more. Some of the sketches are timeless, and could still work today...I just don't know if they need to.

In Living Color filled a void in the early 90's. Saturday Night Live was really the only sketch comedy show in town, and at the time I believe only two of their cast members were of color (Tim Meadows and Chris Rock). Kennen Ivory Wayans realized that there was a voice lacking on SNL, and In Living Color stepped in.

Even as a kid, I knew that In Living Color's sense of humor was different than SNL's. For the first time, I got a glimpse at life in an urban setting and how that can be a source of humor and struggle. I vividly remember when the show addressed the L.A. Riots, and I had a better understanding of what was going on by watching Kim Wayans than by watching the news. Sure, many jokes flew over my head but In Living Color spoke to me, even at a young age, and I'm grateful.

Part of me wonders if In Living Color can make the same kind of impact almost 20 years later. My gut says yes if it can recapture the magic. While the world has progressed since 1994, we still live in an age where most network television shows are dominated by Caucasian performers, and it feels like tokenism still exists. Most shows that have predominantly African-American casts have found a niche on TBS and BET, but it's hard to not feel like they're being sequestered. It's also telling that there hasn't been a truly successful sketch comedy program to fill In Living Color's shoes, which is why I'm hesitant.

I didn't mean for this post to become a commentary on the socio-political state of modern television, but it's hard not to bring up theses issues when writing about such an impactful show that helped shaped pop culture. Without In Living Color, we may not have gotten Jim Carrey, or Jamie Foxx, or Jennifer Lopez, or Happy Endings. We also may have missed out on White Chicks, but I wanted to focus on the positive.

In Living Color came around at just the right time, and I don't know if it can catch lightening in a bottle again. All I know is I'm willing to watch it try especially if it means we get to see some of our favorite classic characters again. I can't wait for "Men on your".


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