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“I’d Like Y’all to Get a Black Friend”: The Politics of Race in Friends

“I’d Like Y’all to Get a Black Friend”: The Politics of Race in Friends
“I’d Like Y’all to Get a Black Friend”: The Politics of Race in Friends

When Aisha Taylor joined the Friends cast in as Charlie Wheeler, she crossed a prime-time boundary—the segregation of American television shows by race. At the same time, Charlie had to be co-opted into the show’s gender dynamics. This article argues that Charlie epitomizes the ongoing postracial politics of respectability and hyper-class mobility that construct black women’s limited entry into postfeminist womanhood, as well as into the, still, rarefied white world of the “mainstream” American sitcom. Charlie seems to trouble, if temporarily, these racial limits by being both Ross’s equal in terms of education and employment and by being a temporary part of the group through her relationships with Joey and Ross. Comparing her with Ross’s previous girlfriend Julie, this article will also consider the ways that the problematic representation of Ross’s girlfriends of color structure the postfeminist tropes of fate and retreatism central to Ross and Rachel’s happy ending.

Friends, class, gender, postfeminism, race, television
1527-4764
708-723
Cobb, Shelley
5f0aaa8a-b217-4169-a5a8-168b6234c00d
Cobb, Shelley
5f0aaa8a-b217-4169-a5a8-168b6234c00d

Cobb, Shelley (2018) “I’d Like Y’all to Get a Black Friend”: The Politics of Race in Friends. Television and New Media, 19 (8), 708-723. (doi:10.1177/1527476418778420).

Record type: Article

Abstract

When Aisha Taylor joined the Friends cast in as Charlie Wheeler, she crossed a prime-time boundary—the segregation of American television shows by race. At the same time, Charlie had to be co-opted into the show’s gender dynamics. This article argues that Charlie epitomizes the ongoing postracial politics of respectability and hyper-class mobility that construct black women’s limited entry into postfeminist womanhood, as well as into the, still, rarefied white world of the “mainstream” American sitcom. Charlie seems to trouble, if temporarily, these racial limits by being both Ross’s equal in terms of education and employment and by being a temporary part of the group through her relationships with Joey and Ross. Comparing her with Ross’s previous girlfriend Julie, this article will also consider the ways that the problematic representation of Ross’s girlfriends of color structure the postfeminist tropes of fate and retreatism central to Ross and Rachel’s happy ending.

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Accepted/In Press date: 1 June 2018
e-pub ahead of print date: 8 June 2018
Published date: 1 December 2018
Keywords: Friends, class, gender, postfeminism, race, television

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 422742
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/422742
ISSN: 1527-4764
PURE UUID: e0b0ec5b-07ad-4287-8f69-789fe1edb005
ORCID for Shelley Cobb: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-1153-8482

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Date deposited: 01 Aug 2018 16:30
Last modified: 07 Oct 2020 06:40

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Author: Shelley Cobb ORCID iD

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