Wordless Wednesday: The fun homework


Media Monday: Nerd of Color Tropes

This is Dule Hill. He is an actor. He is probably best known for his role as Charlie in the West Wing or as Gus in Psych. Today we are going to talk about the latter.

Something that is extremely common in television is the idea of the minority sidekick. I would offer a list to prove my point but I think I would do well to keep this post a little shorter than that. Psych for those of you who are unfamiliar with the show follows the adventures of a private (fake) psychic detective, Shawn Spencer, as he aids the police in solving cases. Gus is often the voice of reason and the straight man. It is a comedy.

There is an interesting dynamic of James Roday (who plays Shawn the protagonist) was born with the last name Rodriguez and is a person of color with passing privilege. But that is perhaps another post for another day.

Often times the minority sidekick (regardless if they are a person of color or a flamboyant gay man) usually fall into two categories. They act completely as a part of the majority as if it would be no different than if their sidekick were apart of the majority and they are simply there for a little diversity in the cast. But only in passing or for visual effect. Or they adhere to every single stereotype that is often attributed to the minority in a gross exaggeration and often it is only played for drama or comedy. Or they somehow straddle both lines and fall into one or the other whenever it is convenient for the plot.

Now, I don't know if I can credit Dule Hill or it is simply good writing but Gus manages to not fall into either of those categories. Instead Gus not only addresses his blackness on screen but often times it is in a positive way.

For Example:
Shawn: "How come you're allowed to say 'bingo,' and I'm not? 
"Gus: "The same reason you're not allowed to say, 'true-dat.'" 
Shawn: "True that." 
Gus: "Exactly."
They address the dynamic of Shawn's whiteness and Gus' blackness in a way that is very race positive. Gus mentions his experience as a person of color fairly frequently and it is usually met with understanding and not just given a brush off. Shawn and Gus are both allowed to engage in the discussion of race in an interesting and positive way without it seeming outside of the context of the show.

Good job boys.