Unfortunately, I missed The Wiz Live Thursday night on NBC and had no intentions on watching it later until my best friend texted me Thursday night: “You should do a blog post on The Wiz live airing on NBC.”
When I asked her why, she proceeded to text me six paragraphs about why The Wiz airing live was a big deal. I told her she should be a guest blogger on Media Whistle and write about it. She politely declined, claiming she didn’t want to “think deeply” about the show, but that I should. So I took her up on the offer, and after further investigation (i.e. actually watching the show), I came up with three reasons why #TheWizLive was amazing and, indeed, deserved a post on Media Whistle.
- An all black cast took up a three-hour slot during prime time television.
Any time an all black cast is on television during prime time, it’s a big deal because it is a rarity. My co-worker reminded me on Friday that the last time NBC had an all black cast on television during prime time was in the 90s when “Fresh Prince” aired.
And if that fact doesn’t convince you that having a mostly black cast on television during prime time is a big deal, just ask the people who complained about The Wiz’s “lack of diversity,” as if The Wizard of Oz never happened.
— Los Angeles magazine (@LA_mag) December 4, 2015
But all haters aside, it wasn’t until I saw this tweet, that the gravity of having The Wiz air live on NBC finally hit me: the power of representation was being broadcasted to millions of people and it was changing lives.
- A timeless black story received a millennial make over.
The Wiz is a timeless black staple. And Thursday’s live showing helped to keep a legendary story celebrating black culture relevant to today’s generation. The characters’ lines were full of today’s Black Twitter vernacular. It was hilarious hearing Dorothy refer to her friends as her “squad” and hearing the word “shade” tossed around a few times. The characters’ upgraded vocabulary, combined with iPads and subtle whipping and naeing during dance sequences, drizzled new-age sauce on a timeless storyline recipe.
- The Wiz Live made a big statement about today’s standard of beauty and gender.
Dorothy gets all the snaps in the world for rocking natural hair AND for being slightly bigger than a toothpick. I applaud the show’s directors for casting women of all shapes, shades and sizes, showcasing the array of diversity within the Black community.
Then there was Queen Latifah casted as The Wiz, who Dorothy and her friends consistently referred to as a “he” until they discover that the Wiz is a fraud and a “she.” Adding this little twist to the plot challenged gender roles, allowing Latifah to act across the gender spectrum and her character to test the conners of the binary gender box we have been socialized to play in.
If you missed #TheWizLive like I did, go to nbc.com and watch the show. I promise you won’t regret it.