Televised Revolutions | Arts & Humanities Reviews

redstarPeisner, David. Homey Don’t Play That! The Story of In Living Color and the Black Comedy Revolution. Atria. Feb. 2018. 400p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781501143328. $28; ebk. ISBN 9781501143366. TV   

American Idiot coauthor Peisner’s new book is an in-depth, well-researched look into the success and aftermath of the 1990s TV show In Living Color. Created and produced by Keenen Ivory Wayans, it was a groundbreaking sketch comedy show with an African American perspective that launched many careers such as those of the Wayans family members, Jim Carrey, and Jennifer Lopez. At the time Fox was a struggling fourth-place television network and Color’s success helped launch the new network. This book begins with an examination into Wayans’s background and then delves into the show’s various seasons in historical context. Most of the sketches, such as “Homey the Clown,” “Fire Marshal Bill, “Ugly Wanda,” and “Star Trek: The Wrath of Farrakhan” are discussed in depth. It’s a fascinating glimpse into the intense work needed to create and keep a show running, and how the production’s popularity impacted the culture at that time and still reverberates today. VERDICT Highly recommended for those who enjoy reading about the entertainment industry, how their favorite TV shows are created, In Living Color, the Wayans family, Jim Carrey, and African Americans in the entertainment industry.—Sally Bryant, Pepperdine Univ. Lib., Malibu, CA

redstarPress, Joy. Stealing the Show: How Women Are Revolutionizing Television. Atria. Mar. 2018. 272p. ISBN 9781501137716. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781501137730. TV

TV journalist and critic Press discusses the gradual emergence of the female showrunner on television series. The showrunner is the new name for the main decision maker, a position that used to be called executive producer. Press begins by discussing female-driven shows such as The Mary Tyler Moore Show and That Girl and how at the time, most of the writers and producers were men. Since then, more female-driven and female-focused TV shows have emerged, including Roseanne, Orange Is the New Black, 30 Rock, and The Mindy Project. The book is well-organized chronologically and is an absorbing read with some politics thrown in. There are fascinating interviews with female showrunners such as Roseanne Barr, Amy Sherman-Palladino (Gilmore Girls), Jenji Kohan (Weeds/Orange Is the New Black), and Shonda Rhimes (Scandal). This emergence of female showrunners is allowing stories about women on screen, and one hopes it will allow more diversity behind the camera as well. VERDICT Highly recommended for those who enjoy reading about the entertainment industry, how their favorite TV shows are created, and women. [See Prepub Alert, 10/4/17.]—Sally ­Bryant, Pepperdine Univ. Lib., Malibu, CA

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