Nowadays, there is a different kind of stereotype being formed as to how African-American women are perceived. Nowadays, whenever the black woman appears on the screen you know that some problems will be solved: whether it is Olivia Pope in Scandal, or Michonne in The Walking Dead, or Lt. Abbie Mills in Sleepy Hollow, these characters seem to be conceived in the same way.
I am not saying that this is an unwelcome change, but that it will eventually lead to the de-feminization of the characters. In other words, just like in the cases of other stereotypes regarding the African-American characters, the woman is presented from a single and reductionist perspective.
What is this happening? In my opinion, they are trying to get rid of some stereotypes by creating some others.
On the other side of the barricade, I find the Living Single women who presented another aspect of the problem, a more humane one. It is a more mature way in which a character can be brought to life, even if the comedy is the one that prevails every time.
The issues presented in Living Single are real ones, and the audience could empathize on different levels with the characters. It wasn’t just the diversity of the personalities, but also the diversity of the situations.
Of course, you might say that Living Single is a sitcom, while the examples provided before come from a different register, and you would be true. However, the issue remains the same.
In Living Single the characters were written in such a way that they didn’t seem two-dimensional. They felt alive and, in most occasions, you could have actually envisioned yourself by their side. In addition to that, most of the characters nowadays seem to be molded after the same blueprint, as far as their physical aspect is concerned: a powerful spirit in a fragile body.
In these new series (even if they are dramatic and not comedies), the writers take into account only one of the traits of the characters: they are tough and they will save the day.
As implied, we need another kind of saving too. We need entertainment, but at the same time we need to be saved from cardboard characters.