I remember when the TV show Julia premiered.  Diahann Carroll stared as a single mom nurse.  It was a ratings hit because it was the first time that a Black woman appeared on TV in a leading role.  Then came Teresa Graves in the 70's as the crime fighter in Get Christie Love!  She was the first Black woman to get an hour long show.

In program roles then black women mostly had the part as the maid.  Esther Rolle and Marla Gibbs were spunky enough to get their own shows but, they still played the maid.  In the eighties Claire Huxtable became the breakthrough black woman as she was a mom and attorney juggling it all.  The Cosby Show was so special as it was rare that they referred to their skin color and we saw their lives as just people trying to achieve the American dream.

In the years that followed Black women had roles as the wives sometimes pampered and sometimes repressed in the secondary role behind a Black man or precocious children.  It didn't matter then because Oprah had hit the scene as the leader of the Black woman, the White woman and most of the men.  Black women were making their mark in the movies but, all the years after Julia and Christie there was not a one of them who carried a prime time TV show.

The went from being maids to socialite wives, loving mothers and got a fair share of good lines but, none had an entire show on her shoulders.  Oprah aside, almost fifty years after Julia hit prime time, Black women are there in full force.  I think it has a lot to do with Shonda Rhimes.  I'm not sure when she created Scandal if she even imagined how big Kerry Washington would become.  We had all heard of Kerry for her amazing movie work but when she got this show she became a household name.

I watched a season of it and agree it deserves all the praise it gets.  I don't know if it's the idea of US President having an affair while in office or the actors but, I quit watching after one season.  To clarify I've lived through a Presidential affair.  Well maybe two but I was a child while that one is going on.  I lose all respect for a man who holds the highest office in the land and can't keep his pants up for his term.  This is not acceptable to me and I just don't like it being glamorized fictionally even if his paramour is Kerry Washington.

In addition to the beautiful and incredibly talented Ms. Washington.  The actors I wasn't familiar with when I started watching all do an excellent job as well.  I just can't get past Tony Goldwyn.  He too is attractive, talented and from a story in People I read about him he's a nice guy.  I will always see him as the guy who had Patrick Swayze killed and moved in on Demi Moore in Ghost.  He got it in the end but words can't describe how I hated this character.

So, a show about a cheating President played by a man who I just can't seem to forgive is not something I'll add to my queue.  Shonda's work got my attention again when she created How To Get Away With Murder.  The title had me at hello.  Then she managed to pluck the amazing Viola Davis from the big screen to be the star.

Viola, like Claire Huxtable plays a successful attorney sans the children.  She moonlights as a Professor at a prestigious law school.  Her kids are her students and she only chooses a few of them to be a part of her practice.  Unlike Claire, Viola deals with some really hardened criminals and her husband is no Bill Cosby.

Like Claire, Annalise Keating never leaves the house without looking like she just stepped out of a fashion magazine.  Unlike Claire, Annalise is never funny.  She isn't because this is a dramatic show and no part of what we've seen of Annalise's life brings us nothing to even smile about.  The show is edge of your seat intriguing and except for Paris from the Gilmore Girls and the kid from Harry Potter the supporting cast was unknown to me.

They all do a great job but when Viola is on the screen you see no one else.  A scene where she simply takes off her makeup before bed is one of the most poignant I've ever seen.  Her character has just found out her husband pulled an Anthony Weiner on the cell phone of a murdered college student.  The acting here is so incredible that you feel like this has just happened to you.

Like the premise Scandal turns me off, I'm sure the one of How To Get Away With Murder will do the same to others however, Kerry and Viola are great in their respective roles and deserve every accolade they get.  Another Black female movie star has gone to the small screen this year with an Oscar under her belt.  The premise of her show is probably disturbing to many as it is about sick and dying children.

Octavia Spencer plays a head nurse on a pediatric ward in a LA hospital.  Red Band Society is another show this year headed up by a Black woman and most of a cast so unknown that they only have blurbs on IMDB.  Octavia plays her role as tough as nails with compassion so intense that it has already gotten her into trouble.  Amazingly this show will make you smile even with a disturbing storyline.  Octavia is responsible for this.

There is another show out this year getting rave reviews.  It co-stars a Black woman and it is a sitcom.  Black-ish is a Cosby like show with a successful father, Anthony Anderson and an even more successful wife with a bunch of great kids and Laurence Fishburne as Grandpa.  I was turned off by the show at first because it seemed that even they were an Ad Executive and a Surgeon they played them as repressed because they are Black.

We never saw the Huxtable's skin color and I hoped this show would do the same.  It's getting better in the weeks since I first started watching it as the writer's finally decided to use these great talents as people rather than Black ones.  The female lead on this show was not taken from the big screen and I wasn't even familiar with her resume.  I had heard of Tracee Ellis Ross because her Mom is Diana.

She is the surgeon of the family and even though we know she has to be brilliant she is one zany mom.  You wonder why she's so successful as she can freak out over lettuce being put on the wrong shelf in the fridge or her willingness to pull the perfect Halloween prank.  She does it all and makes us believe it.  I love watching her too.

Certainly there have been Black women who have made their mark on television through the years other than Oprah.  We now have Robin, Gayle, Tamron, Harris, Wendy and Queen Latifah to name a few.  However, 2014 will go down as the year of Black Women on prime time TV.

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