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This paper will focus on the issue of race representation in television and its implications to real life communities in the cities featured in television. Scenes from the comedy show Portlandia will be examined to determine the effects the show has on the black community of Northeast Portland, Oregon. Characters from HBO’s Treme will also be analyzed to assess the show’s claim of representing the struggles of locals in a post-Katrina New Orleans. The lack of diverse representation throughout Portlandia’s eight seasons has caused the show to help to fuel the gentrification in the city. Viewers of the show are left unaware of the city’s Northeast black community. As a result viewers moving into Portland as a result of Portlandia are unknowingly harming the black community of the Northeast area. In contrast to the black Portlanders, Treme locals suffers not from a lack of representation in Treme but from misrepresentation. Several of Treme’s main characters are privileged whites lack the ability to convincingly represent the neighborhood’s struggles post-Katrina. Likewise, Treme’s storylines of the local black characters leave much unsaid, and as a result fail to contextualize the issues that are represented. Both Portlandia and Treme display how, intentional or not, television’s lack of representation and misrepresentation can have negative impacts on the lives of minority residents within a city.


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