As the weather turns cold, the holidays draw closer, and people begin to soften a little around the edges (perhaps both literally and metaphorically as holiday treats may soften our bellies), a moment of thanks is truly in order.
While I am thankful for many, many things that allow me to live and survive my day-to-day life—a job, house, cat, electric, water, pants, dry shampoo, etc.—I have to give the utmost thanks for television and popular culture. Especially because popular culture is finally realizing that old white men running the networks is no longer going to cut it.
And so, this holiday season, I offer up my thanksgiving for diversity in popular culture. Here are a few of my favorite highlights from 2018:
One Day at a Time
Although this show was in its second season on Netflix during 2018, I can’t help but sing its praises. First off, Rita Moreno. That’s really all that needs said. I can only hope I age as well as her. And, I can’t go without mentioning just how amazing she dances at 87.
As One Day at a Time deals with issues of immigration, PTSD, sexuality, and ageism, this show about a Cuban-American family is both timely and important for our current cultural climate.
On My Block
Once again, Netflix is killing the television game by diversifying its content. This show centers on a group of high school friends who live in inner-city Los Angeles. Offering up a diverse cast of people of color, On My Block is both serious, yet funny. Portraying an accurate depiction of rough inner-city neighborhoods, the show centralizes on familial struggles and relationships that are linked to identity, sexuality, class, drugs, and violence. I appreciated that the show was funny and engaging, despite the situational drama that could easily be conveyed with less humor.
The Hate U Give
To begin, Amandla Stenberg is amazing. Remember when she was a wee babe in The Hunger Games? Now, at 19, she is an advocate, fighting for inclusivity in popular culture. The film centers on issues of racial violence and the disadvantages people face in the black community. Based on Angie Thomas’ best-selling book, The Hate U Give is so necessary for the cultural climate we’re in, and I appreciate that this narrative is getting the attention it so deserves.
Crazy Rich Asians
All Asian Cast. Really, that’s all that needs to be said here. This makes me super happy. While this film shouldn’t be solely labeled as the poster-child for diversity, it has opened the doors for conversations about representation and whitewashing and these talks matter.
So, what am I thankful for this year? Representation and diversity in popular culture are important and we need both of these facets.
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