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DTHOmnibusThursday, April 20, 19899
By BILLY STOCKARD
March 27 was a red-letter day
for daytime TV. On that day,
"Generations" debuted, marking
the first time in soap opera history
that one of the chief families in
a soap is black, in the past, blacks
were virtually excluded from
television altogether; then things
started to change.
Black actors and actresses were
hired for roles on all sorts of shows,
but unfortunately were typecast
as maids, criminals or prostitutes.
Only in the past two decades have
we seen blacks portray doctors,
lawyers and other respectable
professions. Now, viewers can see
a core black family sharing the
spotlight with a white family on
a show that hopes to make a name
for itself on daytime TV.
"Generations" Is about the Mar
snails, who are black, and the
Whitmores, who are white. The
Marshails are led by matriarch
Vivian Potter (Lynn Hamilton), who
was once a housekeeper for the
family of Whitmore matriarch
Rebecca Whitmore (Pat Crowley).
Both Vivian and Rebecca have
gone on to raise families of their
own, but maintain a longstanding
friendship. This spirit of interradal
understanding dominates "Gener
ations" - one of the reasons the
program is so original
in an interview with Soap Opera
Digest, head writer and creator
Sally Sussman stressed how hard
It was to integrate one or two
blacks into storylines on soaps
that have been going on for years.
Sussman said: "We're starting off
with a specific intention: we want
to tell the story of three gener
ations of two famines." The head
writer went on to mention that
these black actors are indeed in
major roles. She added, "They will
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promotes interracial understanding
always have the credibility that
comes with being a main family.
its a different approach and one
which l think will surprise people."
The show started off with both
Rebecca Whitmore and Ruth Mar
shall (Joan Pringle), who is also
Vivian Potter's daughter, hoping
to buy Rebecca's old house. While
Rebecca wants to get back what
was once in her family, Ruth wants
to buy the house to make a
statement. Ruth saw her mother
work for the Whitmores while she
was a little girt, and she resented
not being able to experience the
life of the rich. She married Henry
Marshall (Taurean Blacque), and
from there began the Marshall
interestingly enough, Rebecca
Whitmore helped Henry Marshall
start his career. Henry is the owner
of several ice cream stores in the
Chicago area, another unique
aspect of the soap. On "Dallas"
there's oil, and on "Falcon Crest"
the big bucks are in wine. But on
"Generations" the main business is
ice cream, something we can ail
appreciate. Also, by setting the
soap in Chicago, the characters can
draw on a realistic locale known
for its large populations of both
races. With the exception of "The
Bold and the Beautiful," which is
set in Los Angeles, this is the only
soap centered in a non-fictitious
"Generations" not only features
successful older characters, but
also college students of both races.
What's more, the friendships that
exist between them are a tribute
to the battle against prejudice
that future generations must
fight As Kristoff St. John told Jet
magazine, his character of Adam
is a precedent-setting role to play.
"I feel very proud to be repres
enting a young, 22-year-old Black
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man on the screen having some
thing different for a change than
selling drugs, being on the wrong
The program is not even a
month old, yet ifs getting a lot
of media attention. Sussman said
that one of the first questions
people asked was whether there
would be interracial romance
featured. She responded, "To tell
you the truth, we're not really
interested in that I think it can
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Probably one of the realities
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"I tell people this is a soap for the
1990s," she explains. "This is about
people. I think it's the next step
"Generations" airs weekdays at
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