News Article

Race and Reality TV

A brief history of race and reality TV -- ''Survivor'' wasn't the first reality show to cause a racial rift

A look back at some rocky on-air relations between minorities and the small screen.

1992
THE FIRST SEASON OF THE REAL WORLD
Heated verbal clash between country bumpkin Julie and token black guy Kevin set the template for a go-to theme in future seasons.

2004
WILLIAM HUNG ON AMERICAN IDOL
His tone-deaf rendition of ''She Bangs'' made him a laughingstock — er, international superstar — for embodying the nerdy-Asian stereotype.

2004
STACIE J. OUSTED FROM THE APPRENTICE
White teammates ganged up to characterize her as ''scary,'' making her a symbol of that casting staple, the Crazy Black Woman.

2005
ABC'S WELCOME TO THE NEIGHBORHOOD
The never-aired series featured Latino, Asian, and gay families (among others) auditioning to live on their white judges' conservative block in Austin.

2006
FX'S BLACK.WHITE
An African-American family traded lives with a Caucasian family with the help of really good makeup, and audiences learned that racism is still very much a reality.

Originally posted Aug 25, 2006 Published in issue #894 Sep 01, 2006 Order article reprints