Reflections on Race in the Time of TV

Book Pages: 352 Illustrations: 64 illustrations Published: September 2018

Author: Ann duCille

African American Studies and Black Diaspora, Cultural Studies, Media Studies > TV

From early sitcoms such as I Love Lucy to contemporary prime-time dramas like Scandal and How to Get Away with Murder, African Americans on television have too often been asked to portray tired stereotypes of blacks as villains, vixens, victims, and disposable minorities. In Technicolored black feminist critic Ann duCille combines cultural critique with personal reflections on growing up with the new medium of TV to examine how televisual representations of African Americans have changed over the last sixty years. Whether explaining how watching Shirley Temple led her to question her own self-worth or how televisual representation functions as a form of racial profiling, duCille traces the real-life social and political repercussions of the portrayal and presence of African Americans on television. Neither a conventional memoir nor a traditional media study, Technicolored offers one lifelong television watcher's careful, personal, and timely analysis of how television continues to shape notions of race in the American imagination.


"Ann duCille offers an eloquent analysis of the relationship between representations of people of color and their absence in television from the 1950s to the present. She skillfully blends her comprehensive, historically grounded research with personal memories and her present connection to television. . . .  Recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty." — K. Sorensen, Choice

"For many readers, the author’s assessment—a portion of which is commentary and the other part memoir—is an introduction to early television shows that ended before several generations had the opportunity to make their own analysis of them. [Technicolored] provides ample American history as well as critical race theory analysis suitable for anthropologists, sociologists, and students of the visual arts." — Patricia M. Muhammad, International Social Science Review

"In her book Technicolored, Ann duCille deftly blends memoir and television criticism to create an important critical intervention into the study of race and media." — Jacqueline Johnson, Film Quarterly

"Technicolored is a beautifully written and deeply engaging text that makes media criticism available in multiple registers. Media critics, Black Studies scholars, those interested in literary experiments that bridge memoir and theory, and all students of culture will learn considerably from duCille’s achievement." — Michael Litwack, The Black Scholar

“In Technicolored, Ann duCille presents a series of analyses of the myriad ways that blacks and blackness have been envisioned on television. Tracing the spread and development of television in the latter half of the twentieth century, duCille examines a vast range of televisual offerings…. While television history has significantly overlapped with the civil rights movement and the changes wrought in its wake, duCille reminds readers how the changes in African American inclusion and representation on television have, more often than not, had more to do with commercial incentive, than any kind of progressive, social awareness, or agenda.” — Joelle Tapas, Journal of Popular Culture

“Demonstrating Ann duCille’s tremendous knowledge, academic expertise, and life experience, Technicolored furthers our understanding of race and representation through the medium of television. And just as significant, the story of her striving black, working-class family in a small New England town provides a depiction of blackness that is rarely represented in popular culture. Technicolored is a clearly written, insightful, and entertaining work.” — Farah Jasmine Griffin, author of Harlem Nocturne: Women Artists and Progressive Politics during World War II

Technicolored explores how identities are ‘screened,’ how personal memory and public history intersect, and how our society and ourselves might be (tele)envisioned. Interweaving memoir and cultural theory, media analysis and social commentary, this beautifully written book not only stretches the limits of intellectual production; it brilliantly reveals how understandings (or misunderstandings) of race are themselves produced, stretched, and limited through media.” — Lynne Joyrich, author of Re-viewing Reception: Television, Gender, and Postmodern Culture


Availability: In stock
Price: $28.95

Open Access

Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Ann duCille is Emerita Professor of English at Wesleyan University and author of Skin Trade and The Coupling Convention: Sex, Text, and Tradition in Black Women's Fiction.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments  ix
Introduction. Black and White and Technicolored: Channeling the TV Life  1
1. What's in a Game? Quiz Shows and the "Prism of Race"  22
2. "Those Thrilling Days of Yesteryear": Stigmatic Blackness and the Rise of Technicolored TV  52
3. The Shirley Temple of My Familiar: Take Two  83
4. Interracial Loving: Sexless in the Suburbs of the 1960s  112
5. "A Credit to My Race": Acting Black and Black Acting from Julia to Scandal  134
6. A Clear and Present Absence: Perry Mason and the Case of the Missing "Minorities"  159
7. "Soaploitation": Getting Away with Murder in Primetime  183
8. The Punch and Judge Judy Shows: Really Real TV and the Dangers of a Day in Court  209
9. The Autumn of His Discontent: Bill Cosby, Fatherhood, and the Politics of Palatability  232
10. The "Thug Default": Why Racial Representation Still Matters  261
Epilogue. Final Spin: "That's Not My Food"  285
Notes  289
Bibliography  311
Index  325
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

Rights and licensing
Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-1-4780-0048-8 / Cloth ISBN: 978-1-4780-0039-6
Publicity material