The Experiment
The Experiment
Sep 16, 2021
The Unwritten Rules of Black TV
Play • 35 min

The Atlantic staff writer Hannah Giorgis grew up in the ’90s, watching dozens of Black characters on TV. Living Single, Sister, Sister, Moesha, and Smart Guy were just a few of the shows led by Black casts. But at some point in the 2000s, those story lines and some of the Black writers behind them seemed to disappear. In a cover story for The Atlantic, Giorgis traces the cyclical, uneven history of Black representation on television.

One writer whose career encompasses much of that history is Susan Fales-Hill. She got her start as an apprentice on The Cosby Show, wrote for A Different World, and now is an executive producer of BET’s Twenties. This week on The Experiment, Fales-Hill and Giorgis talk about  how power dynamics behind the scenes have shaped what we watch, what we talk about, and how we understand ourselves.

A transcript of this episode is available. 

Further reading: “Most Hollywood Writers’ Rooms Look Nothing Like America”

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This episode was produced by Meg Cramer. Reporting by Hannah Giorgis. Editing by Katherine Wells. Fact-check by Jack Segelstein. Sound design by David Herman, with additional engineering by Joe Plourde. Transcript by Caleb Codding.  

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