To Be Heard And Seen
To the Powers That Be:
I am an avid fan of TV, sometimes to the point where I am overwhelmed by the availability of new programming available. In today’s day and age, it’s easy to find a new show. In fact, there are so many it can be downright impossible to pick one to watch. TV is an escape from reality. It is a chance to forget about what is plaguing you in life (and in 2020, why isn’t at this point?), and submerging yourself into someone else’s. Good TV can entertain you, but great TV can literally change your life.
It’s been a little over a week since The Baker, and the Beauty was canceled by ABC Network. Like many others, I was quite surprised by the decision. While canceled shows are not uncommon these days, I was sure this show would survive the cut. As I’ve worked with other fans to try and save this show, I’ve heard their stories, their voices, and the reasons why this decision has frustrated them.
It made me stop and think. I’m a TV fan by choice, but a social worker by profession. And if you’re reading this, maybe you know what I look like, maybe you don’t. Let me make it clear for you: I make Casper look like he’s been hanging out on a Miami beach for a week, and I knew I wanted to marry Taylor Hanson and Leonardo DiCaprio (yes, both-I had high goals) at the age of five.
So, you might ask yourself:
What does a white, straight woman find so valuable in this show?
To put it in perspective, this past year, I had the pleasure of working with the LGBTQ veteran population in a social work field. Much like many, I knew the gist of what it meant to be an ally, but in reality, I had so much to learn.
Many veterans were not out to their family or friends. They felt unheard and unappreciated by the country, let alone their loved ones.
Trust the social worker? No way. And to a degree? They were right. It is a fair point that maybe I don’t understand.
It got me thinking about the show this week. I look at my skin, and my own identity, and think: I can find a plethora of shows that have people who look like me. I can turn a TV on or streaming service and immediately pinpoint a dozen shows that represent who I am and what I stand for. More so, I grew up in a world where people who looked like me were everywhere in television–and rarely was the side character in a show or the comedic relief.
It pissed me off.
Please think about the number of shows available right now that focus on minority populations and cultures and get back to me. My guess is that number is pretty small. We, as a nation, pride ourselves on the “melting pot” analogy where everyone is welcome. So, why, in 2020, am I having this conversation?
I can’t imagine what it felt like as a fan of TV to see the show The Baker and the Beauty and finally feel heard and seen. Fans saw the Garcia family and fell in love. In social work, advocacy and empowerment are two of the things we promote the most. How can we say we’re a melting pot then cancel this show? By all means, put another Bachelor show on. That’ll show them.
People may say this is a silly social media movement that will lose traction in a few days. Maybe it isn’t. Maybe it is a community and a society that’s had enough. If we can’t keep an inclusive, diverse show like The Baker and the Beauty on the air, what does that say? If, at a level of entertainment, where things are supposed to be fun, we say: you don’t matter, and neither does your voice. How do we even begin to think beyond that?
The Baker and the Beauty held its ratings steady. The fans are vocal and loud – 140,000 strong on the petition to the networks demanding a change. It was barely on the air for two months – in the middle of a global pandemic and a social movement promoting this very thing… I ask: How do you ignore that? How do you say “sorry, we liked the show, but it wasn’t enough.”
I call bull.
Because I think it’s fair to say, it’s already made a difference. Hollywood and entertainment can’t ignore it anymore.
If inclusion and diversity really matter, do the right thing. Give the Baker and the Beauty the real chance it deserves.