Interracial Marriage In Bel-Air

16 Oct

Neil Skinner

Media & Identity

16 October 2014

Blog #5

Interracial Marriage In Bel-Air

Sitcoms have been popular on television for decades with their wacky characters and silly plots. While many of them feature mostly white characters, some shows have broken the barrier by featuring minority families as the lead role instead. Some of these hit shows include The Cosby Show, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and The George Lopez Show. One show that stuck out to me was The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. This television show featured a predominantly African American cast and was extremely popular during its 148 episode run. There were racial themes strewn throughout the series that I never had never picked up on when I would watch it as a child. These were positive themes about how racism will get us nowhere in life except backwards.

One episode from the show that I remember seeing as a rerun a couple years ago is titled “Guess Who’s Coming to Marry?” from the second season. The plot of this episode revolves around Will’s aunt, Janice, who decides that she is going marry a white man, much to the surprise of the rest of the family. When the family first lays their eyes on Janice and her new fiancé kissing, they simply stare in disbelief. Her new fiancé, Frank, greets the rest of the family with a big smile and a wave while they continue to be in shock. Trying not to bring up the fact that Frank is a different race, everyone in the family describes Frank as “tall” before Will finally blurts out that he is white. Another aunt describes it as an outrage that Janice would do something like this. Throughout the episode, the family eventually warms up to Frank and they welcome him with open arms.

The character of Frank is a stereotypical white person. While he is an extremely courteous person on the show, he is portrayed as not knowing much about their culture. The show is portrayed through the character of Will, a young African American man. This perspective views Frank as an outsider to the rest of the family due to his race. People of different races can all relate to this episode because it shows what it is like trying to fit into a different race that is all around you. The show takes on a unique perspective because not many sitcoms deal with interracial marriage and portraying white people as the ones who are outsiders. It shows how shocking it can be for two different types of races to mix together. The plot of this episode has positive implications for everyone. The family proves that they can overcome their own beliefs about racial prejudice and stereotypes. The message behind the plot also shows that people from other races who love each other can be together and overcome the racial barriers that society has created.

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