Today its raining in the greater Toronto area and I’m bored. I rarely watch TV these days except for the local news, some pro tennis, or pro golf, BBC news, a couple of reality shows, and that’s it. I click the remote control and there is nothing good on TV right now. Its times like these that I keep on thinking about why was Noah’s Arc cancelled? Noah’s Arc was the first all black gay TV show ever to be broadcast on television. Is Noah’s Arc ever going to air in Canada? And why was Noah’s Arc on the small gay channel MTV LOGO and not on a major American TV network like HBO, Showtime, or one of the mainstream channels?
The story is that MTV LOGO claimed that Noah’s Arc production costs were getting too high even though the show was one of the highest rated programs on MTV LOGO. I enjoyed the show but didn’t like the fact episodes were only 22 minutes I felt it should of been a lot longer. Also now that the show has been cancelled MTV LOGO announced a movie will be released in the year 2008. I don’t think MTV LOGO was the right network for Noah’s Arc it deserved so much better.
The black TV sitcom genre has died a slow death. The glory days of black television was only for twenty something years from the mid 1970s to the mid 1990s. It all started with “The Jeffersons” in the 1970s then “The Cosby Show”, “227″, “Amen” in the 1980s, “A Different World”, “In Living Single” were great 1990s shows. However, Girlfriends is the only black TV show that I think had any meaning or importance and yet that show isn’t even on a major network its on the cable channel CW network. Jill Marie Jones the talented young actress that played Toni Childs quit the show and it hasn’t been the same since.
Although I welcome black sitcoms I don’t see the risks that “The Jeffersons” “Cosby Show” and “A Different World” took back in the day. The new black TV sitcoms are derivative and unchallenging and that’s why they get cancelled so quickly. The CW network cancelled the program “Alll of Us” and I am not surprised. The rapper Eve had her own sitcom which was quickly cancelled by the CW network. The new black sitcoms play it a bit too safe because the producers want to ensure their shows don’t get cancelled they make the programs as boring as possible. I also notice another trend and pattern this decade all the new black sitcoms have to be wannabe Cosby show rip offs and all focused on black heterosexual nuclear families. The Cosby Show was considered daring and controversial when it aired in the 1980s. Bill Cosby made sure that there was a positive image of blackness that American pop culture ignored when he made the Huxtable family middle to upper class. It was such a pleasure to watch the Huxtables deal with regular life problems and struggles yet still love and respect each other. It was so refreshing to see a show about a black family where the father was was a doctor and the mother was a lawyer they didn’t speak in slang, they had five kids and lived in a nice house in New York City. The knock offs of the Cosby show just didn’t have the excitement or good writing. As I matured I realized that my experiences as a black gay man was always ignored by television. Television is more important then some people realize it is where social attitudes to various topics and issues are discussed and a cultural dialogue is formed.
Noah’s Arc is definitely one of the best black TV shows I have seen in a long time. Noah’s Arc is controversial just for existing. Black people aren’t going to watch MTV LOGO I think Noah’s Arc should of been on BET. I mean BET broadcasts the most boring and mundane entertainment these days Noah’s Arc would of really helped the network gain more black viewers. BET these days isn’t even marketed to black people these days its obvious the people behind BET have diminished the black content so much they are trying to reach a white suburban audience.
The cultural politics of “gender”, “sexuality”, and “race” appear to have hindered the show’s success. Why wasn’t Noah’s Arc on a bigger network? Why wasn’t Noah’s Arc on HBO, ABC, or CBS, NBC, or FOX even? The two recent shows dealing with gays were on Showtime in America. Why wasn’t Noah’s Arc given the opportunity to be on Showtime? People like to say race wasn’t a factor in Noah’s Arc’s inability to reach a larger audience but I definitely believe racism was indeed a core reason why the show didn’t take off like it should.
The mainstream media says “Will and Grace” was a groundbreaking show but I beg to differ. Will and Grace still maintained the status quo where heterosexuality was at the center of the program. Also, Will and Grace had nothing to do with my experiences I just didn’t find the show that interesting. I am not a white gay man and it just doesn’t interest me that everything gay has to equal everything white. I wanted to see myself on TV or people I knew and recognized on TV and Noah’s Arc was that show.
MTV LOGO was created to provide the gay and lesbian community its own space to broadcast programs that would interest a gay audeince. However, MTV LOGO is such a small specialty channel. Why couldn’t Noah’s Arc be on the regular MTV dial? I mean MTV has silly shows about rich white kids such as “The Hills” on their main network Noah’s Arc should of been given a chance to reach a larger audience. Unlike those other two gay shows Noah’s Arc wasn’t overtly sexual the show had class. Noah’s Arc was so much more important then that program. Canada had its own gay channel that I could care less about I mean it has nothing to do with gay people of colour. And that’s why I miss Noah’s Arc so much. I miss Noah, Ricky, Chance, and Alex. Its maybe a bit hard for people that are not black and gay to understand why Noah’s Arc was so important to us. I wish the reruns of Noah’s Arc was on BET. Yes I contacted BET already and of course I didn’t get a response. The show was not disgusting like that other gay TV show that got so much press a few years back. Noah’s Arc had class.
And that’s why I was so pleased a few years ago when Noah’s Arc became the first black gay sitcom to air on television. Although Noah’s Arc was broadcast on American TV I heard about it through the grapevine and I knew once the show was available on DVD I had to watch it. Noah’s Arc aired on MTV LOGO which is the gay MTV channel that is owned by the parent company Viacom. Viacom also owns BET, MTV, and various other networks. Its such a shame that Noah’s Arc was not broadcast on the regular MTV or BET. I think the executives at MTV just didn’t care for the show it simply wasn’t promoted enough. I also found it interesting that the so called “gay media” also ignored Noah’s Arc and certainly didn’t give the show the press it deserved. Part of the blame definitely is on MTV LOGO for not promoting the program enough but the other part is the so called “gay community” patronizing attitude towards the lives and experiences of gay black men. Let’s face it, we live in a culture where whiteness has to always be the center of the universe. The cultural production of “gayness” equals “whiteness”. And Noah’s Arc was a form of resistance to this racism. The attitude of the mainstream American gay press of course was to patronize Noah’s Arc because it had nothing to do with them. Sure, the program dealt with the issue of homosexuality but Noah’s Arc was refreshing that homosexuality was not the core focus of the show. Noah’s Arc was incredible because it demonstrated the struggles that black gay people go through being both black and gay. And in gay culture far too often gay people of colour are treated like a circus or a side show.
For once, Noah’s Arc dealt with a black gay community where black gay people are at the center and not on the margins. Black culture isn’t much better I mean BET has its nightly comedy programs and so often the comedians make gay jokes. Its frustrating because gay black men we are a part of the black community yet we are also demonized as well. And when black heterosexual shows attempt to deal with the issue of homosexuality its often from a negative perspective such as focusing on the whole down low issue. I wish more black people got to see Noah’s Arc maybe they would learn and open their eyes to see that we are just like them. We have joys and struggles with life we deal with similar issues just like them.
I commend the people behind Noah’s Arc for keeping the show black and keeping away from those tired racist storylines. The show dealt with important issues such as the black church, homophobia, black parenting, and many more.
Noah’s Arc was groundbreaking for many reasons. For once it was a show where white gay men were not at the center and black gay men were the focus of the story. Second, it was a show that I could relate to. The show demonstrated that black gay love and romance was real without the supremacy. Far too often in gay culture men of colour are paired with whites in TV and film erasing the existence of black gay men and other gay men of colour. Noah’s Arc broke this supremacist mold of thinking and firmly focused on four young black gay men trying to make it in this world. It was so uplifting and amazing to watch. Its such as shame that Noah’s Arc wasn’t able to reach a larger black audience. I really honestly believe if more black people knew about the show they would watch the program. Do yourself a favour go to Amazon.com or Barnes and Noble go to your local HMV, or music store and purchase a copy of seasons 1 and 2 of Noah’s Arc on DVD and see why this show was so amazing.