I’ve been banging out tons of television lately – partly because I’ve yet to find a job at my relocation – partly because I love television. And as one who loves dating the rainbow even more, I’ve taken notice of the many mixed-race couples on TV and in film and print. From Moses’ nameless Ethiopian wife to Troy and Britta on “Community,” love has proven itself more powerful than ignorance since the early days of running from Egyptians. And no two would be more groundbreaking in that display than Desi Arnez and Lucille Ball.
Thanks to Ball’s insistence that the network cast Arnez, her real life husband, as her spouse on the show, we have our most pioneering integrated on-screen couple. And then the steamroller…
“Matt and Christina Drayton are a couple whose attitudes are challenged when their daughter brings home a fiancé who is black.” ~ IMDB. That’s the breakdown for “Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner,” as in “there goes the neighborhood!” This is an important film in all its hammy preachiness and it shocked 1967 audiences to see such a hard topic get attacked so fearlessly. Great performances all around, during the spike in Sidney Poitier’s career.
“Star Trek” had no peer when it came to giving hope for a more tolerant future. Sure, Kirk and Uhura had the first white/black television kiss and God knows Kirk was no stranger to chasing alien tail. But on the subject of love, Spock’s parents Sarek and Perrin gave us something else entirely: the first inter-species couple. Thanks to television’s most famous Vulcan/Human pairing, creator Gene Roddenberry was able to show us that our hangups over taboo “race mixing” couldn’t have been more ridiculous.
But since we humans are still too barbaric to even fathom such things, let’s get back to something we can almost deal with. Probably television’s funniest black and white couple was Tom and Helen Willis of “The Jeffersons.” All through the 70’s and early 80’s these two played foils to racist comedy, courtesy of Mr. George Jefferson. Yet, none of it was mean-spirited. In fact, Mr. Jefferson and his two “frenemies” showed us that this was a topic that didn’t have to be taken so seriously after all.
Hundreds of years after Miriam and Aaron hated on Moses’ black wife, William Shakespeare’s Iago wanted war hero Othello D.E.A.D. in one of the bard’s most powerful tragedies. It’s not just a sad story of insecurity and betrayal, it’ s an interesting window into an era we simply don’t know enough about. But we do know that interracial couples either widely existed or were on people’s minds. And moreso thanks to Shakespeare’s brave writing.
As a former comic book collector (shocker, yes) and full-time cartoon lover, I’ve come across some awesomely artful examples of interracial love. Iceman and Opal taught me was falafel was. Power Man and Iron Fist’s Luke Cage and Danny Rand were tag-team champions of colorful loving with their gf’s Misty Knight and Jessica Jones. And Green Lantern Jon Stewart’s dating Hawkgirl came to mainstream audiences via the amazing Justice League cartoons. Thank goodness the younger generations are being exposed to such beauty.
On a side note, The Vision and Scarlet Witch even went so far as to express human/android relationships as a thing of wholesome innocence – a subject Star Trek: TNG even touched on a couple times. Hey whatever floats your boat!
But when it comes to a full on, balls out, go-for-broke display of love, sex and zero judgments, Britain’s “Torchwood” wins hands down. Not only do we get the incomparable Captain Jack Harkess – a man who will screw ANYTHING hot, but almost every character on the show has either experienced interracial relationships, homosexual encounters, cyborg love, alien banging, everything you can think of. All sentient beings are equal on this show and that’s why I love it so.
Yet “Torchwood” was the spawn of something bigger. It’s the progeny of the “Dr. Who” universe, one of the most important creations of all time. Spanning fifty years as I write this, and running the gamut of television, radio plays, and print media, this is an unstoppable thing of epic power. And the show has used this clout to depict an existence where not only do interracial couples prosper, but they are commanding relationships throughout the modern series. One duo goes even farther with their lesbian union by hailing from different planets!
God bless Doctor Who for showing us a world (or worlds) where it absolutely does not matter what color you are as long as you practice that one blissfully incredible, achingly beautiful, sweetly perfect emotion called “Love.”
Honorabe mention: That adorable Cheerios commercial that features a mixed race family doing not a damn thing but being awesome.