At this risk of depressing some of my friends among my fellow liberals, I fear I have good news to report.
I've sometimes wondered this week if I'm the only one who has noticed.
I'm a child of the 60s and 70s. I remember Bridget Loves Bernie. I recall this highly rated sitcom being yanked off the air for the ludicrous reason that the show featured a marriage between a Catholic and Jew. Even as late as the 1980s, there was a huge brouhaha over a soap opera featuring a romance between a young white man and a young black woman. The network's front office wouldn't even permit them to kiss, for heaven's sakes.
Move forward twenty years and over the last week and a half of so-called "Sweeps Month" (when networks wheel out their heavyweight storylines to improve their ratings and demographics profiles), CBS featured a special two-parter of their series "Criminal Minds" involving a shared crisis of two characters. These characters, Derek Morgan and Penelope Garcia, have engaged in an ongoing flirtation over the course of the series. The flirtation with its witty, wonderful repartee has been embraced by the audience as a strong fan favorite.
What really made me take notice was a phone conversation over Thanksgiving. My own Texas cousin (amid other ramblings) mused on about the series, the relationship and "how cute they are together". She said that she really hoped the series made the characters a regular couple. Maybe even have them get married.
It was at this point I almost needed a cherry picker to heft my jaw off the ground.
My family is as many families -- a composite of the good, the bad and the royally racist. I'm so accustomed to more old-style biases being expressed by this part of the family that I was shocked beyond speech for a moment.
"But," I said. "Haven't you noticed something ... different about them?"
"What?" she said, clueless.
Nothing, my friends. She saw nothing. I damned near cried.
I am reminded of Whoopi Goldberg's amazement at having been called to the front office during production of her own now defunct TV series. The show had just commenced a storyline about an interracial romance and Goldberg was certain the front office had called her over to grill her regarding it. She arrived at the meeting, ready to do battle, only to find out what the front office was worried about -- they didn't want her character smoking on television.
"What about the interracial thing?" she said, stunned.