Race Matters TV

Baldwin Hills: TV Critics Weigh In On BET’s Black Beverly Hills

It’s a simple formula perfected by MTV from Laguna Beach to The Hills: Young, rich, beautiful and white. Producers throw in a dose of mediocre drama about love, betrayal and the revolving door of BFFs, and a TV hit is born.

But it wasn’t until BET created their version of Laguna Beach in the mold of The Hills, Baldwin Hills–which premiered its second season this summer–that there was another piece to the formula: race.

BET’s hit show follows a group of affluent black kids who live in the L.A. neighborhood that’s dubbed the “Black Beverly Hills.” The show’s opening proclaims, “Not all black people live in the ghetto.”

Besides the fact that Blindie found it interesting that it took BET this long to highlight this side of young black America, we’re glad that the show, like The Cosby Show before it, is helping America realize that yes, we can be spoiled and rich too, just like the pouty blonde beauties on The Hills.

With its second season now making waves for the all-black network, the show’s castmember, Gerren Taylor, is also featured in this week’s PEOPLE magazine, which charts her rise at age 12 as the fashion industry’s “Baby Naomi” to having no modeling jobs at 15.

Here’s what the critics have said about Baldwin Hills:

The Boston Globe–“‘Baldwin’ Offers Fresh Take on Black Experience”:

“The result is far more interesting than any white teen shows that served as model or inspiration…It’s worth watching – for white viewers as well as black – as a study in how we live today. If Barack Obama is a symbol of both racial unity and divisiveness, “Baldwin Hills” proves that his struggles aren’t unique. Even the most ambitious, successful, assimilated African-Americans must often find ways to occupy all worlds at once, to embrace or embody both Harvard Law School and Jeremiah Wright.”

The New York Times–“Posh Princes and Princesses of the Hills”:

“[BET is] breaking down stereotypes by offering the rest of the world documentary proof that affluent African-American enclaves like Baldwin Hills actually exist…The show’s 11 cast members…are the smartest, funniest, most charming and generally most well-behaved group of teenagers imaginable. Instead of the drama of racial inequity, we get the more ordinary drama of spoiled kids trying, very politely, to take advantage of their parents.”

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