A very interesting article in Bitch Magazine talks about race in the popular Nickelodeon series Doug. The producers reveal in the book Slimed that there was somewhat of a racial agenda in the show. The writers and producers wanted to show diversity but because they were all white they didn’t feel like they could give characters real races.
According to Bitch the show’s executive producer Doug Campbell explains the unique coloring decision: “Look, we’re not black people, we’re not Mexican, but we want the cartoon to speak to all groups. How do we get past the barrier or ethnicity? And Jim (the show’s creator) said, ‘Let’s try coloring them all different colors.’”
I am sort of sick of hearing some white writers/producers say they can’t write about non-white people because they are white (or just hire non-white people, what?). Shonda Rhymes (Scandal, Greys Anatomy), Ryan Murphy (Glee, American Horror Story) and David Simon (The Wire, Treme) to name a few, never seem to have this problem. Like, of course there are certain experiences that come with being non-white but at the end of the day we all have the same emotions and ordinary problems. Racial issues aren’t addressed in most shows certainly not cartoons so why not just write whatever character you are going write and cast whoever is the best actor instead of making race a requirement in casting?
Would Friends have been any different if Monica or Joey happened to be Asian or Latino? Probably not.
Anyway, the folks at Doug did have good intentions and Doug was a great show. They ended up making everyone colorful as a symbol towards diversity. However, there was the decision to make Doug’s family white. In the ’90s most families who had cable happened to be middle-class white families, in order to appeal to that demographic they made him white instead of magenta or whatever.
Another interesting tidbit is that Skeeter, although blue, is generally accepted to be black. This weirds me out. I have been told countless times by friends that Skeeter is the “black” one. I never once felt that way watching the show because I didn’t see anyone as having a race. It was not the intention of the show’s writers or producers to make Skeeter black either. It is just how people perceived him.
The creator Jim Jinkins said, “It’s pretty common knowledge that Skeeter was African-American. And I love that, because I did not consciously set out for that to be the case; I just thought he looked good blue.”
This freaks me out because I don’t understand what racial signifiers or actions suggest that he is black. Do people just see goofy guys who say “honk honk” as black? Or is it because he was “dumb”? I am seriously confuzzled! Did you know?
Bitch notes, “Good multiracial representation on television is still hard to come by today: GLAAD’s most recent “Where Are We on TV” report shows 78 percent of series regulars on broadcast TV are white.”`