10 TV Shows That Radically Altered the Perception of Underrepresented Cultures in the 2010s
Culture and TV shows cross paths as often as peanut butter and jelly on Wonder bread, often bridging the gap between underrepresented characters and the audience’s perception of truth and fiction. Great TV typically gives us a glimpse of what we’ve never experienced before or have always been curious about. There are several series over the last decade that have risen the bar when it comes to altering the perception of underrepresented cultures, giving viewers a fresh perspective on life. We’ve done you the favor of listing the best examples of perception-altering shows that have broken the mold.
Cover Photo: FX
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'Game of Thrones'
GoT has possibly the widest range of formerly unrecognized cultures in TV history, most of which have been living in the shadows of "normal society" for decades and even centuries. Groups like fire-breathing dragons, magicians, sorcerers, dwarfs with drinking problems, polyamorous couples, White Walkers, Dothraki hordes, eunuchs, and dire wolves finally were given a voice and accurate representation publicly, courtesy of GoT. These cultures have been outcasts for too long, fighting for equal rights for so many years with very little acknowledgement from society. But thanks to George R.R. Martin, David Benioff, and D.B. Weiss, these incredible creatures will live in the darkness no more. They have literally spread their wings/arms/legs/drinking goblets/magic/knives/fire breath and flown high above the world's bigotry.
'The Walking Dead'
There's never been a culture more misunderstood than zombies. The Walking Dead has finally brought to the forefront the theory that zombies are all just looking for love. This show proves this point every episode. Zombies aren't trying to hurt us, they're just looking for their one true, eternal soulmate, but upon finding them, they're insecure and unsure how to initiate that conversation. Unfortunately, quite often it turns into disappointment, death, and destruction, but isn't that what dating ultimately is? Zombies are people too, kind of.
Robots, androids, and artificial intelligence are scary subjects for a lot of people to comprehend. Westworld has done an incredible job of portraying what artificial intelligence can do to positively influence our society. In an incredibly easy-to-understand array of plotlines and explanations of what robots are capable of, Westworld shows us that robots are people, too. We're all ultimately the same, and we have nothing to fear about the future of our relationship with artificial intelligence. This accurate representation of robots is long overdue, and will change how we look at the future forever. Thanks, Westworld!
The rise of the tech industry has opened the world's eyes over the last decade to a new type of genius leader and maker of men known as the software developer/coder/app designer. No longer will the perception of what makes a leader be based upon the ability to provide food, water, shelter, and protection from outside predators. Now our vision has developed into wiry software developers and app inventors as the providers and future leaders of our commerce-based society. Who needs action stars like Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson or Bruce Willis or Gal Godot to lead us to safety when we've got an app that will find us a rideshare or deliver us doughnuts whenever and wherever we so desire? Silicon Valley opens our eyes to a breed of humans who can solve all our problems without ever leaving the couch. All we need is the click of a button and a perfect algorithm. It's nice to finally meet these leaders of the future being portrayed so accurately on TV. Surely the real tech gurus appreciate it.
Arguably the best show on TV, Atlanta is set up to confuse white people about culture and topics that most would never understand anyway. Within that brilliance is the idea that there's no reason to explain black culture or white culture or whatever culture in Atlanta. As a viewer, you're literally a fly on the wall of a life and a world that you probably never would've otherwise been around otherwise. Atlanta doesn't pander to the audience by feeling the need to over-explain jokes, or even let you in on the joke half the time. You have to earn the understanding of the show and eventually the can't-get-right main character, Earn, will lead you towards the truth about what Atlanta is really about.
'Orange Is the New Black'
Finally, women in prison have been accurately represented on screen in Orange Is The New Black. For way too long, our public definition of women in prison has been pigeon-holed into a world of sexual innuendos and the objectification of prison guards. Now we know more accurately, what daily life in a women's prison is really like: tattoos, fights, bad haircuts, sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll.
'Fresh Off the Boat'
ABC's hit comedy is the first Asian-American family comedy on TV in over 20 years. Not only is it hilariously written, but it constantly pokes intellectual holes in the fabric of life as an Asian-American in the current abyss of chaos that is the USA. The show always pushes the needle of what it's like to live in a country that doesn't necessarily celebrate different cultures as much as it pushes cultures to assimilate and fall in line. It brilliantly poses the question of what it actually means to be American, and how the perception of culture plays an integral role in everyday life.
School vice principals have been long-overlooked as leaders of future leaders in the educational system, and it's about time two award-winning actors portrayed them accurately on screen. Danny McBride and Walton Goggins seamlessly walk the line of discipline and leadership, as most vice principals do in real life. Respect, honor, truth and justice lie around every turn in this amazing comedy series about the underrepresented, red-headed stepchildren of the educational administration community.
'Queer Eye For the Straight Guy'
This Netflix reboot is the perfect example of a show that every macho man in America would claim to never watch, but secretly loves. Everyone needs a gay friend, but more accurately, everyone in this modern world needs five gay friends specializing in fashion, culture, hair, interior design, and cooking. It's an incredibly positive message wrapped in a show about people who are struggling to find their identity, a topic that is rarely discussed publicly, especially by men. These five entrepreneurial Lotharios have introduced an entire country to what is really possible with self-introspection, hard work, and a little help from friends, while also giving many people their first television friendship with a gay man.
Funny, broke girls in their 20s may have been done a few times in TV history, but never to the point of accuracy of Broad City. Funny, sarcastic women who definitely aren't basic at all have been misrepresented on TV for a long time. Ilana and Abbi are more real than any women in a comedy series have ever been. Broad City motivates women to be their true selves, bashing any misguided notions that men may have from previous depictions of women in TV. It may lead us into the uncharted territory of a bathroom, where bodily function jokes splash quite often, but the truth is out there in all its wonder, courtesy of Broad City's ability to answer questions that most men have never thought to ask about women.