Monday, December 7, 2009

Black Like "Bewitched": Sitcoms and Race, Part 1

As many of you know, I am interested in “passing” narratives and in popular culture representations of race relations. Back in the civil rights era of the 1960s, even situation comedies did their part to help end persistent racism and color prejudice. One of the shows that has retained much of its charm since then is the 1960s-70s era television comedy, Bewitched, which starred Elizabeth Montgomery (In addition to playing Samantha Stevens, Montgomery was also a committed civil rights activist).

Bewitched has long been one of my favorite shows, as its metaphorical richness provides an ample field for analysis. While doing research (my best excuse for surfing YouTube!), I recently came across this “very special episode” of Bewitched, which originally aired back in 1971. It's called "Sisters at Heart," and in it, Tabitha and a friend of hers want to be “sisters,” as they have become so close. Her little friend is black, though, so Tabitha has to come up with a way to make them appear as sisters.

What I also find fascinating is that the sponsor, Oscar Mayer, had Montgomery introduce the episode with an explanation (or disclaimer? or apologia?) of why they felt it was important, although they don't provide ANY context for viewing it. The disclaimer is at the beginning of the episode. I have included the link to the first section--the other two are available as well--this is a charming episode.

All best,



1 comment:

CP said...

Wow Rebecca -

. . . that was more of a Twilight Zone eerie feeling. Racism -so long ago yet -2010- it still exists . . . even with the United States of America's President being of color in the White House.

Again wow . . .