Tag Article List: TV series

Mixedness Comes of Age: Learning from Multiracial Portrayals in Young Adult TV Series

Marc P. Johnston-Guerrero
The Ohio State University
Columbus, Ohio, USA

Lisa Delacruz Combs
The Ohio State University
Columbus, Ohio, USA


Representation in literature, popular culture, and media has been shown to influence identity development and belonging as exemplified in the enduring hashtag #RepresentationMatters. However, mixed race representation on television has received little attention in research and scholarship. Hence, this essay examines how multiracial characters are portrayed in coming of age and young adult storylines from four TV series (All American, Charmed, Trinkets, and Dear White Peoples) representing two different networks (Netflix and The CW). Through a close reading of dialogue within the context of larger story arcs, we identify and critique common tropes in order to further multiracial literacy and inform pedagogical practice in the classroom. Specifically, three analytical themes are explored: (a) the perceived promise of racial mixing toward transcending Blackness, (b) the boundaries of Blackness, and (c) the grappling with identity and what it means to claim Blackness. Our discussion illuminates the need for more deliberate considerations when constructing mixed race characters on TV so that their portrayals reach the full potential of multiracial representation. We conclude with recommendations for more critical portrayals of multiracial young people and the intentional usage of such media in pedagogical efforts within college classrooms.

Keywords: Multiracial, mixedness, young adult, TV series, coming of age, representation, portrayal, Blackness

Download as PDF