Clay Cane is a New York City-based writer who is recognized for his contributions in journalism. Clay is a regular contributor for various print and online publications such as The Advocate and BET.com. He is the author of the highly anticipated novel Ball-Shaped World, which is a fictionalized account of the black and Latino ballroom scene. Also, he is the Entertainment Editor at BET.com and a member of New York Film Critics Online. He can be reached at claycane@gmail.com.


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    Tuesday, July 24, 2007

    Soul Food: The most underrated show of all time?
    I just received an advanced copy of Soul Food: Season Two DVD, which hits stores August 7th. Soul Food is a spin off from the ‘90’s black film classic, which starred a pre-surged Vivica A. Fox, Vanessa Williams and Nia Long.
    The Showtime original series is the engrossing story of a conservative (with its progressive moments) black American family in urban Chicago dealing with the tribulations of relationships, life and love, all with the backdrop of community. A powerful cast, likable but flawed characters kept Soul Food on the air for four years from 2000 to 2004.
    Soul Food made history, being the first long-running and successful dramatic series on television to feature a predominantly black American cast. The second season deals with race, politics and relationships in a refreshing, but unique way. You also get guest appearances from the icon Mary Alice, the legendary Debbie Morgan, one of the finest men on the planet Djimion Hinsou and more.

    Once I popped Soul Food in my DVD player, I was immediately invested in the lives of the Joseph family. From the icy but stable Terry, played wonderfully by Nicole Ari Parker (complete insanity she never won -- or was nominated -- for an Emmy/Golden Globe), to the family-oriented but still independent thinker Maxine, played by Vanessa L. Williams, to the sassy but compassionate Bird played by Malinda Williams.

    Perfect actresses that did equally as powerful performances as Sarah Jessica Parker as Carrie Bradshaw in Sex & The City or Edie Falco as Carmela Soprano. However, the three women of Soul Food got nowhere near the recognition of Parker and Falco, even with equally good performances, maybe in some ways better (and believe me, I am a huge Sex & the City fan). Soul Food could quite possibly be one of the most underrated television series of all time.

    What shocked me most is out of Soul Food’s four year historic run the series only received one Emmy nomination for “Outstanding Main Title Theme Music” in 2001—and lost. Of course Soul Food never received one Golden Globe nomination. How could this be? The show was on a major network—and before you say it is an HBO versus Showtime situation, Oz, a predominately black mini-series, only had two Emmy nominations (never won!) and no Golden Globe nominations in its six year run. Again, how could this be with unprecedented critical acclaim, not having the controversy of excessive violence like The Sopranos, or unrealistic sexual adventures like Sex & the City? I’m not even going to begin on how many nominations/wins the Sopranos and Sex & the City received. Thankfully, the show did receive seven Image Awards, but only Vanessa L. Williams would win an Image Award for acting.

    To make matters worse the second season of Soul Food is just being released—four years after the first season DVD was released. According to the press release from Paramount, “The series is one of the most-requested franchises from Paramount Home Entertainment, with thousands of fans having signed a petition to get another helping of Soul Food.” If this is the case then what exactly is the madness?

    Bottom line—this show was not honored or even given a timely DVD release, regardless of the great writing, stellar cast, or high ratings because it’s a black show. It is deeply saddening how this powerful series is not being well-preserved. While there are reruns on BET, they tend to be as bland and overly edited as the Sex & the City reruns on TBS.

    I will have a review coming out on the Soul Food: Second Season DVD shortly, but after viewing the second season—barely being able to stop watching it, I urge you to buy this DVD on August 7th. I don’t believe in supporting black projects, simply because they are black, but when it’s excellent and being ignored—it is “paramount” to support.

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    Posted by Clay :: 1:40 AM :: 11 comments

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