The Unwritten Rules of Black TV

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By The Atlantic and WNYC Studios, The Atlantic, and WNYC Studios. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

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”

Be part of The Experiment. Use the hashtag #TheExperimentPodcast, or write to us at theexperiment@theatlantic.com.

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.

33 episodes