I don’t know about you, but I love the Cheerios ad featuring the adorable daughter of an interracial couple. It’s both sweet and charming, but what I really appreciate is its depiction of a family that is rarely visible on TV even though it is certainly reflective of the lived reality of many Americans.
Cheerios deserves credit for refusing to back down to the vile and racist comments that greeted the ad in some quarters. In fact, not only did they refuse to back down, they doubled down, and during the Super Bowl no less! The sequel is a worthy follow-up to the original.
In watching the ad, I couldn’t help but wonder, “What if this couple consisted of two dads?” Wow. For as much progress as we’ve seen in recent years for LGBT equality, I have a hard time imagining that such a commercial featuring an interracial same-sex couple and their child would make it to air. You can bet that the freak-out some had to the ad would have even more offensive and over the top if the couple was gay.
What hurts in thinking about this is that such an ad would more accurately depict my own reality. While my partner and I do not have any children (at least not yet), we, like the couple in the Cheerios ad, are an interracial couple (he’s black, I’m white). The only difference is that we’re both guys.
In thinking about the ad further, I started to wonder, “Just where are all the interracial same-sex couples on TV anyway, in commercials or otherwise?” While LGBT visibility on TV today is much better than it once was, honest and accurate depictions are still far too rare. Same-sex couples on TV are rarer still (Modern Family’s Cam and Mitch are arguably the most famous of all time), and the vast majority of those couples are from the same racial or ethnic background.
Stef and Lena, the same-sex couple at the center of ABC Family’s “The Fosters,” offers one refreshing current example to the contrary. David and Keith, from HBO’s “Six Feet Under,” are another example, and, in my humble opinion, one of the better, more honest depictions of a same-sex couple ever seen on TV (and that series has been off the air for nearly a decade).
You may be asking yourself, “So what? Why does it matter that these kinds of families aren’t all that visible on TV?”
It’s important to see reflections of what modern families actually look like on TV, and the paltry number of interracial same-sex couples that are depicted flies in the face of what we know to be true. According to an analysis of the 2010 US Census, more than one in five same-sex couples were interracial or inter-ethnic. This compares to just 9.5 percent of opposite-sex married couples. In addition, same-sex couples which included a racial or ethnic minority were also more likely to be raising children.
These kinds of families should not be cloaked in near invisibility on TV when they are so common in real life. The Cheerios ad offers proof that things are really beginning to change. I look forward to the day when such an ad can feature an interracial same-sex couple and their child, and the response of most would be to say, “Aww. What a sweet family.”
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