TV Show Fades to Black, then Fades

When JJ Abram’s hour-long drama, “Sexy Sexy Black People” Undercovers showed up in the TV listings, I was super worried. A show with Oreo-esque leads might lead to other TV shows to feature layered characters of color and then how would I stand out??

But my fears were allayed with NBC announced they were canceling it.

Writing for The Root, Marcus Vanderberg mentions that Undercovers had a lot of challenges–including untested acting talent, weak scripts and a poor time slot.

Another problem:

Black viewers, who many might have guessed would rally behind the show, never embraced it. Undercovers only cracked the top 10 on Target Market News‘ list of the top 25 broadcast shows in black households twice, and that was during its first two weeks on air. On Nov. 4, the night before the show was officially canceled, Undercovers finished 16th in black households behind Hawaii Five-0 and The Mentalist, both of which lack black lead characters.

Black people didn’t want to watch a show with untested acting talent, weak scripts and a poor time slot. So now, networks are feeling skittish again about casting leads of color in a show.

The fact that black leads are such a gamble on network TV these days highlights the noticeable shift in programming during the last 25 years….

…The UPN and the WB, which is now the CW Network, copied the Fox blueprint (think Girlfriends) before they all abandoned most of their black programming in order to appeal to a more mainstream audience. And now it seems as if all the inroads of the past few decades have been for nothing…

I took a look at other shows that have been canceled or threatened with cancellation this year and noticed a disturbing trend:

18 To Life: Kids Get Married on a Dare

100 Questions: A girl and her friends navigate life in NYC - canceled after 6 eps

As The World Turns: Stodgy Soaps Suddenly Seems Sexy

Man with huge hands gives advice - canceled after 2 eps

The Bridge: Cop does cop things.- canceled after 3 eps

Gravity: Suicide survivors make jokes - canceled after 10 eps

Huge: Nikki Blonsky goes to camp

Lone Star: A con man has a conscious...and also a lot of sex. - canceled after 2 eps.

My Generation: Angst and agnst with a dollop of angst. - canceled after 2 eps

Outlaw: Jimmy Smits knows justice; but not TV audiences - canceled after four eps.

Notice anything about most of the people in these shows?

They’re actors! Apparently, actor-led TV shows have a really hard time sticking. I hope the networks don’t feel skittish about gambling on having actors in their shows after this disappointing season.

Crossing my fingers for you, actors. You’ll figure it out.

And if you do wanna see some of colors leading a show…there’s always the still-climbing-in-the-ratings Real Housewives of Atlanta where next week, Phaedra and Apollo will have a baby…or won’t they???

For Mor-eo! Follow The Oreo Experience on Twitter (@oreoexperience)
Leave a comment here or at any of the above and let us know what you think!


  1. Funny how just putting Black people as leads isn’t enough to make black people watch a show… I guess we are not a hive mind after all. and to be honest, the main characters of that “Sexy Black Spy Show” didnt seem aimed at a black audience, they seemed more aimed at a white audience who prefered “safe” black people aka oreos… but lets not forget all the white spy shows that have come out in the last 10 years have been cancelled early too. Maybe we just donn’t like spy shows…

  2. The Undercovers show was not that interesting. Didn’t matter what color the leads were. The writing was weak. Give me good writing and I’ll probably watch.

    1. DUDE- you are looking skynnnnniyyy, my friend! You look awesome. I recognize this is, like, a week late, but I’ve sucked at the internets lately, so I’m late to the party. Anyway- you look fabulous. Wanted to tell you!

  3. Wait, black people are not mainstream now? Ugh.

    I loved Alias, so I figured Undercovers would be fun too. The writing was just awful. The heterosexism was breathtaking, and the “No Really We’re Totally Color-Blind” attitude that the show exuded was offensive as well. I don’t think that a show with of-color leads needs to constantly deal with issues of racism but showing some, or any, awareness of it would be a start.

    1. I think Alias is one of my next box sets to tear through. Haven’t seen a single ep, but am looking forward to it.

      From what I’ve heard, JJ wasn’t suuuuper involved with Undercovers, so I’m guessing that had something to do with the terrible writing.

      I will say this about JJ…Star Trek has, from what I understand, always been fairly progressive racially. (I’m so hoping that story about Shatner and the kiss is true). And I was an extra JJ’s go at the movie. Such a diverse pool of extras–which I totes appreciated! And JJ was unbelievably nice. Like crazy nice.

      1. My friend and I marathon-watched all the seasons of Alias one week last year. It was awesome. It was a really fun show, not without problems, but mostly terrific with some really outstanding characters.

        I very much enjoyed the Star Trek movie, and I’m a life long Star Trek fan (though not as intense as some). There is a lot that is progressive about Star Trek, especially the original one. I’ve heard the Shatner story too and choose to believe it. heh

      2. Ive been a fan of crime drama series since 1960 and have seen them all. Thats until the neowrtk suits cancel them instead of trying to save them by changing their time slots or the nights that theyre on. All i can say is this is one of the best what with its good writing, action and dynamic cast. BRING BACK UNDERCOVERS OR WE WILL NOT SUPPORT YOUR SPONSORS!

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