It was announced today that Rob Schneider will be starring in a CBS sitcom that deals with the culture clash that ensues when he marries into a Hispanic family. I’m sure that it will be handled with all the grace and quiet dignity for which Rob Schneider is known.
While it wouldn’t be unreasonable to cringe at the thought of the stereotypes drummed up by this project, it certainly would mesh well with television history to use simply drawn stereotypes as a cheap laugh or plot device. After all, aren’t all sitcom characters stereotypes in one way or another?
Lazy writing and poorly-drawn characters appeal to the lowest common denominator (see this). Though TV has gotten better in general in recent years, it’s no secret that many sitcoms and dramas appeal to people because it allows the audience to take their thinking caps off. However, the entrants below are gratuitous even by lazy TV standards. Here are a smattering of characters that offer up stereotypes that would make Tyler Perry blush.
Gays had been depicted on TV long before Will and Grace and even more so afterward. However, it was Sean Hayes’ Jack that seemed to enter the public consciousness more than any other gay character did. Unfortunately, Jack reads more like a 1970’s hack comedy bit on “fruits” than he does an actual human being.
He was a huge queen. He loved drama, he sang and danced, he’s flamboyant about most everything he undertakes and…he loves to shop. Despite the show’s long run, Jack continued to exist largely as a one-note character that offered comedic relief and not much more. He was pretty damn funny, but hardly an enlightened take on human sexuality.
Now, if they had made him a professional football player, that would have really turned the notion of sexuality on its head. Take that, ESTABLISHMENT!
This isn’t so much an issue with stereotyping black people (though I guess it kind of is) but rather with that lazy pimp stereotype. I’m guessing he was the first pimp to get serious screen-time, but what did we really know about Huggy Bear? Did mother issue drive him to pimping? Why was he so quick to drop the dime for a couple of white detectives with perms? Did they save his life in Vietnam?
Just give us a few tangential facts to make this guy more human. Make him a large contributor to the United Negro College Fund and periodically remind us of his fondness for meatball subs.
Not so hard, is it?