Torres outlines two different ways to think about race and television. The first is a survey of how television bundle “race” with persons of color along the backdrop of social problems associated with racial otherness: poverty, drug addiction, racial oppression. The second is a consideration of three conceptual models for thinking about race and representation, specifically related to television: the stereotype, race as a social construction, and racial representation in the service of capitalist ideology.


  1. What were some major milestones in representing blackness as a social problem on network TV, according to Sasha Torres?
  2. Why did the Rodney King video bring together “desperate urban poverty or senseless urban menace” in the popular imagination?
  3. How is race depicted as a social problem and as a commodity in the “Harris Family” episode of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition?
  4. What is presented as a racially defined “urban poverty” when Ty Pennington proclaims, “Alright, guys, so welcome to Watts. It’s not exactly Pleasantville. And I think a lot of people are quite frightened of it, to be honest with you” in Extreme Makeover: Home Edition?
  5. Why is Torres critical of the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition’s representation of the problems in Watts and the “belief that poor people need consumer choice rather than political choice?”
  6. Torres argues that “if race has no biological meaning, it is replete with cultural meaning." How does
  7. Torres suggests that recent television treats race in a different way than it had during the network era. She argues that television now deploys "race, racial identities, and racial styles not to signify social problems, and not to display minoritized others for a majoritarian audience, but rather to garner as many fragments of the post-cable audience as possible in order to sell them to advertisers.” How does her argument compare to Curtin’s argument about the neo-network era?