Black. White. (2006– )

TV Series  -  Drama | Reality-TV
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Ratings: 6.4/10 from 138 users  
Reviews: 28 user | 5 critic

A white family and a black family find out what it's like to switch lives.

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Won 1 Primetime Emmy. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »


Series cast summary:
Rose Bloomfield ...
 Herself (5 episodes, 2006)
 Himself (5 episodes, 2006)
Poetri ...
 Himself (5 episodes, 2006)
Brian Sparks ...
 Himself (5 episodes, 2006)
Nicholas Sparks ...
 Himself (5 episodes, 2006)
Renee Sparks ...
 Herself (5 episodes, 2006)
Carmen Wurgel ...
 Herself (5 episodes, 2006)
Faith Cheltenham ...
 Slam Poet (4 episodes, 2006)
 Slam Poet / ... (4 episodes, 2006)
 Poet (4 episodes, 2006)


A white family and a black family find out what it's like to switch lives.

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Drama | Reality-TV



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Release Date:

8 March 2006 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Black. White.  »

Filming Locations:

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$750,000 (estimated)

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User Reviews

"Black. White." Is Golden, A Rare Reality Show That Is Entertaining and Informative
12 September 2011 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

FX is one of the rare cable stations that seems to maintain the creative freedom other cable networks had in the 1980's and 1990's, but don't seem to have anymore. I don't know why 20th Century Fox specifically created FX, or how it was supposed to differentiate from FOX, other than not having the letter 'O' in its name. However, in the last decade, FX has churned out some really unique and risky shows that not even its network sister station would ever dare to air. "Black. White." is one of those shows.

"Black. White.", produced most notably by Ice Cube of all people, devises a social experiment similar to the one upon which John Howard Griffin embarked over 45 years earlier. Griffin, a Caucasian reporter, took medication to increase the melanin in his skin, making it much darker and having him resemble an African-American man. He wrote about his experiences in the still-influential memoir, "Black Like Me".

There are some noticeable differences between this show and the bestselling book. In this show, two families, one black and one white, switch races with the help of professional Hollywood make-up artists. They also experience life as a member of another race in Los Angeles, whereas Griffin took a road trip across the deep South at the dawn of the Civil Rights era.

At first, when you watch this show, the most fascinating part is the families in their makeup. It's really surprising how authentically African-American the Caucasian family looks. I call them the "Caucasian family" because each member has a different last name. Regardless, the makeup team did such a great job on them, it really puts the makeup job done on C. Thomas Howell 20 years earlier in "Soul Man" (1986) to shame.

The African-American family, the Sparks', also look surprisingly authentic as Caucasians, or at least the father and son do. The mother, Renee, still looked Afro-American to me, even with her new blonde hair and light skin. It sort of looked like a black woman imitating a white woman on a show like "Saturday Night Live", but then again, she actually fools virtually every white person she encounters on the show, so I could be wrong.

When the novelty of the makeup wears off, as it inevitably will, what results is a very intriguing study on race in America, particularly in a liberal city like Los Angeles. It was probably more of an eye-opening experience for the Caucasian family than the Sparks family. After all, based on the Sparks' introduction, where father Brian shows his house, and points out all the various races that live on his street, you immediately see that the Sparks', like many African-American families, find themselves having to adapt to a White world. The Caucasian family, on the other hand, readily admit that they don't know, or interact with, many African-Americans, which is certainly true of many more white families.

There are some cringe-inducing moments involving Bruno, the white father, and Carmen, the white mother. Bruno seems to think that black people almost program themselves to seek out racism as they go out the door. Such a point of view creates immediate conflict with Brian, who accuses Bruno of standing on his "lilly white pedestal" while making that assumption. Unfortunately, Bruno never seems to let go of that assumption.

Carmen is more open-minded, but constantly puts her foot in her mouth. When a dialect counselor visits the house to inform both families about how most whites and most blacks converse, the word "bitch" appears on the dialect sheet for black women. It shouldn't have been on there in the first place, but it does prompt Carmen to jokingly call Renee "bitch", resulting in more tension between the two women. There's also another incident when Carmen, with good intentions, compliments an African-American visitor by calling her a "beautiful black creature". I dare you to try not to cringe when you hear her say that.

I really found myself liking Rose, the Caucasian daughter. She seemed to be the only member of the group who really used her new African-American facade to expand her point of view. The poetry class she takes with other black students is really fascinating, and it's amazing to hear how her poetry matures over the course of the show. She does reveal to the class early on that she's white in black makeup, and it's unclear why she does that.

The Sparks' son, Nicholas, interestingly seems to deny racism even more than Rose's parents, which is fascinating. Brian and Renee grew up with racism, and one would think Nicholas would be aware of it also. He seems to grow and learn also, but not at as quick a rate as Rose.

It is very difficult not to watch this show without talking about it for hours. Filmed in 2006, it took place before Barack Obama became president and shed a different light on racial topics. If they made a sequel to this reality series now, it would probably bring up some different viewpoints on race in society, but the message would remain the same: Racism is not as blatant as it was 40+ years ago, but it's still alive and more complex than ever. Our society still has a long way to go, and this enlightening, educational, yet entertaining series really reflects that message incredibly well. Racism should not be ignored, and neither should this show.

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