Hey everyone, Flobo here! Today, I want to talk to you about perspective.
When I was a kid, the whole world was in love with “The Cosby Show.” It managed to do two things: 1) Save the family sitcom and 2) showed America a new perspective on the African-American household. Don’t believe me?
But growing up, while I watched “The Cosby Show,” I knew something felt “off.” I understood that there needed to be an alternative perspective of the African-American family perspective, and “The Cosby Show” showed that it was “no big deal” that a black lawyer could be married to a black doctor and have multiple children in a upper-middle class home. For me, it was an “ideal to strive towards” (*ahem* Sorry, “Man of Steel”) and while plausible, wasn’t close to my own New York City upbringing. I realize however that to determine the shades of gray, you have to establish the white and black first (no pun intended… but metaphor totally intended)
As a Caribbean-American man (of Scottish and and Barbadian descent), I accepted the perspective of “The Cosby Show” as something that was going to be the closest to my own. That is, until one lazy Saturday afternoon when my other half and I decided to play Hulu Plus roulette. Enter “Everybody Hates Chris.”
Based on the life of Chris Rock, “Everybody Hates Chris” took premise of a hard-working (to varying degrees) working class family and the struggles of not only raising multiple kids, but having them thrive in an environment that could easily stifle achievement. Not so much a community that flirts with the threat of violence (although it was a concern) but rather a comfort level that suppresses ambition.
It was like watching a show about my own life.
My dad worked for the city and struggled to put food on the table as a transit worker. My mother, though a registered nurse, encountered change of the guard at her jobs that routinely threatened her livelihood. My brother and I, as “nerdy” as we were, walked that line between doing well in school and being accepted among the neighborhood. In short, I felt though the title was “Everybody Hates Chris,” it had something for me in there too.
As a sitcom, it has it’s moments of both hilarity and banality (much like any other comedy program ever made). The balance between the comedy, family moments, morals and character development peak at season 2 (despite a 4th season creative renaissance) but I didn’t care. I wanted to continue living in this fictional Brooklyn world, an alternate dimension to my own. It seemed to different but also so real.
Now the point of this article is not to say that “Everybody Hates Chris” is better than “The Cosby Show,” despite the fact I enjoy the former ten times more than the latter. Rather, this is about perspective. The idea behind both shows is very similar. Family is the primary foundation (if you’re asking my opinion). But these shows approach this in different ways.
A lot of times as authors we’re discouraged to create because we felt that story has “been done before.” A cynical person would say that everything has been done before but why even try. What matters is your perspective. The way you see the world will differ compared to someone else. Perhaps your life experiences would bleed into the page, having something that may be well-worn seem fresh and exciting.