I'll say it. I'm glad to say goodbye to Scandal.
It's time. Some would say it should have ended a few seasons ago, but, you know, haters gonna hate. And likers are gonna imitate.
There are new queens with disreputable reputations in town: TNT's Claws, USA Network's Queen of the South. And some tried-and-true ones, too: Empire, How to Get Away With Murder and, arguably, Being Mary Jane.
Can I get an amen for inclusion?
Indeed, there's only one problem I see: All the powerful women of color on TV are criminals.
I am happy for these actresses, who finally get to play well-nuanced characters in charge of their own destinies. There was a time, well, there's still a time, when a lot of roles available to women of color are of the domestic variety, or the best friend, or the assistant or just a face at the water cooler.
Wanda Sykes, even when she merited a sitcom of her own, was still everyone's favorite movie assistant.
Let me play devil's advocate for a moment. This type of inclusion is what you wanted, right? Well, yes. And no. Conflicted is the operative word here. So, let's talk it out.
On Scandal, she lies, cheats and kills.
On Queen of the South, they both lie, cheat, steal and kill.
On Empire, they all lie, and for what they deem the right reasons, kill.
On Being Mary Jane, she lies, cheats and, well, everything but kills.
How to Get Away With Murder is bloody, too. And Claws is right in the same vein.
Yes, women of color in killer roles are part of a larger trend of anti-heroic figures portrayed by magnificent actors. Taraji P. Henson's Cookie Lyon will go down as one of TV's indelible characters. Kerry Washington's Olivia Pope of Scandal spawned a cottage industry, along with a legion of nicknamed, wine-guzzling, popcorn-eating fans.
In lesser hands, this type of representation could be deadly. But show makers are caught between a rock and a harder place. These actors started out with meaty roles, righteous indignation on their sleeves and doing what they did for actual reasons, however flawed those reasons might have been.
Olivia Pope was bad at being good. Now, she's just bad. I digress.
But there's a problem, too, with the women of color from days past who were all good, all the time. Diahann Carroll in Julia (1968-71), the first time a black woman was in a weekly series and not playing a maid; Florida Evans from Good Times. (To be clear, these were also decried because they were either too fantastic or too real. Put a pin in that.)
But the stakes seemed to be bigger then. They were the first representatives and had to be mindful of what they were projecting into the national psyche, to people who didn't interact every day with people of color.
So, you have to turn it over and look at it both ways. There's an old song: Look where He brought me from.
The question remains: Is here where He wants us to stop?
I always thought Hannah Montana was progressive; the head mean girl at the high school was black. To me, that was the kind of progress needed, some colorblind casting in which the black actress didn't have to play "sass." It meant black actresses were no longer relegated to the role of the friend who watched as another actor got the guy, and could be afforded the opportunity to be a little off-color. Pun intended.
I do understand that people of color have some good, even great, options to watch: Fresh Off the Boat; Black-ish; Dear White People; Atlanta; Hawaii Five-0; Insecure; One Day At a Time; Jane the Virgin; Marvel's Luke Cage; Orange is the New Black; and Power.
But check out the list of canceled shows just this past season and you realize that as many quality shows have been lost. A few: the groundbreaking Underground on WGN America; The Get Down on Netflix; American Crime on ABC; Shots Fired and Rosewood, both on Fox.
Then wasn't so long ago, now was it?
But, man, look, I want my cake and I want to eat it, too. I want a regular black woman playing a regular person. I also want a boss playing a bad-ass. I also want a simpering piece of succotash.
Is that too much to ask?