DVD Features Families Swapping Skin Color
in Reality-TV Series
Have you ever wondered what it would be like
to walk around in a different color skin? This is the social experiment
at the center of “Black. White,” a riveting reality series
which originally aired on the FX Network this past Spring.
The show stars two families, one black, one white. The Sparks, Brian,
Rene, and their 17 year-old son, Nick, are African-American, while The
Wurgels, Bruno, Carmen, and their 18 year-old daughter, Rose, are Caucasian.
But not for long, since the idea of the program is to allow each to get
a good idea of how the other half lives. So, every day for the duration
of the series, they all lived together and underwent elaborate transformations
in order to be able to pass. For instance, the debut episode featured
Brian buying shoes as a white man, and being shocked to have an affable
salesman happily help him slip samples on and off. Later, he takes a
job as a bartender and is quite surprised to hear a customer go on endlessly
about the virtues of living in a lily-white neighborhood.
Rose, meanwhile, who, by the way, actually looks better black than white, ventures
into South Central, where she takes a course in poetry slam. Though she’s
the only one whose make-up leaves her looking human, she is apparently the most
conflicted about trying to trick strangers into believing she’s really
Her step-father, Bruno, however, decides to gets some lessons from the Sparks
before venturing into the world as a brother, boning up on Ebonics, learning
how to shake hands, putting a swerve into his stride, and even adding the N-word
to his lexicon. Curiously, he turns out to be the villain of the series, since
episode after episode he remains convinced that he has not encountered any racism
as an African-American. Brian and Bruno butt heads often and the tension mounts
as the show builds towards its dramatic finale. It’s just too bad that
Rose is the only participant in this experiment who doesn’t look like she
stepped off the set of White Chicks. Yet, somehow, the questionable makeup doesn’t
diminish the entertainment value of this absolutely absorbing social experiment.