Entertainment

Ridley Jones Season-1 2021 TV Series Review

Creators : Chris NeeKaren ChauTom Rogers
Stars : Iara NemirovskyCarolina RavassaBob Bergen


In early June, Chris Nee, the award-winning children’s show writer and producer, found herself at a loss for words. She could not name a single TV show from her childhood that had left a lasting impression on her.

“Maybe ‘Quincy’…?” she said in a recent interview over Zoom from her house in the Venice Beach neighborhood of Los Angeles. Her face scrunched up with a mix of confusion, bewilderment and disappointment as she tried to recall another show — any show — from the late ’70s and early ’80s. “I was not growing up in a great era of TV,” she concluded.

It is, of course, not lost on Ms. Nee that part of the reason she — a gay “relatively butch” woman, as she put it — didn’t connect with any shows was because she never saw herself represented onscreen. She simply wasn’t like the little girls that TV glorified back then. Ms. Nee felt uncomfortable in a dress and in social situations, feeling early on that she was “different.”

Ms. Nee came out as gay when she turned 18 in the ’80s — a time when being openly gay was an incredibly heavy burden to carry. The AIDS epidemic, still little undersood at that point, was exploding around the country, killing hundreds of thousands of L.G.B.T.Q. people.

The Reagan administration treated the epidemic as a laughing matter, publicly making jokes about the disease and further marginalizing L.G.B.T.Q. people who watched friends and loved ones die. And, in the broader context, there were few pop culture and entertainment icons who were openly gay; even Elton John only publicly revealed that he was gay in 1992.

“It was just a really different space,” Ms. Nee said, of that time. “And I carry that stuff with me. I can still touch those feelings of hurt and anxiety and fear.”

In large part, Ms. Nee’s artistry has been capturing that not-fitting-in-ness in the heart of her stories; stories that touch on the idea of difference as the very “thing that can give us great strength.”

“I always say that the answer you’re supposed to give when you’re asked ‘who are you writing for?’ isn’t kids,” she said. “I am really not writing for the kids, I am writing to my own experience as a kid.”

In 2012, Disney released “Doc McStuffins,” an animated children’s show pitched and produced by Ms. Nee. The lead character is a 7-year-old Black girl, Doc, who dreams of becoming a doctor, like her mom, and spends her days carrying around a “Big Book of Boo Boos” and tending to her toys that fall sick. It was also the first Disney show to air an episode featuring an interracial lesbian couple.

“Doc McStuffins” quickly became one of the most popular children’s TV shows, running for five seasons and viewed by millions of children, age 2 to 5. In fact, in 2016, the first episode of Season 4 reached more than four million children, according to the book “Heroes, Heroines and Everything in Between: Challenging Gender and Sexuality Stereotypes in Children’s Entertainment Media.”

The show was nominated for several Daytime Emmy Awards and, in 2014, it won a Peabody Award for children’s programming.

Most importantly, the show helped shift perceptions of Black medical professionals, spurring thousands of female physicians to post pictures of themselves on social media with the caption “We are Doc McStuffins.”

In a recent tweet, Dr. Rachel Buckle-Rashid, a pediatrician in Rhode Island, posted that a little girl had just jumped into her arms assuming she was “Doc.” “Maybe Disney Junior has done more for me as a Black woman in medicine than most D.E.I. initiatives,” Dr. Buckle-Rashid added.

In a 2018 survey by the Geena Davis Institute, a research organization focused on representation in film and TV, more than 50 percent of over 900 girls in school and college named “Doc McStuffins” as the show that left enough of a lasting impression on them to pursue a career in STEM.

Interestingly, Ms. Nee noted that boys were watching the show, too, pointing to data from the time indicating that they made up about 49 percent of “Doc” viewers, which exposed them to ideas of more empowered girls as well.

Breaking New Ground

Ms. Nee originally wanted to be an actor. But with her shaved head and baggy T-shirts — “I was deeply queer in the old school sense, which was actually hard-core punk rock,” she explained — she didn’t know who would cast her or how she could fit in.

Instead, she decided then to get into production, taking on a role as an associate producer with Sesame Street’s international arm, which took her from Jordan to Mexico to Finland. It was, as she described it, “the coolest job in the world.”

She eventually realized, though, that her greatest strength was writing. She began working on scripts for shows like “Blue’s Clues” and “Wonder Pets,” even as she continued to work as a producer (TV production was and, in large part, still is a freelance-driven business).

At one point she was producing “Deadliest Catch,” a reality TV show about Alaskan king crab fishermen, during the day and writing children’s TV shows at night.

Source : nytimes

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