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The season premiere of "Mad Men," found some no-so-subtle ways to incorporate black characters into its very, very, very white show. But it's not the first hit show to do so, either. Throughout TV history, many shows have made blatant attempts to expand on their demographic.
Published March 27, 2012 More Info ยป
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Published March 27, 2012

Friends

The whitest of white shows in the 90s, the sitcom added Morris Chestnut as Monica's boyfriend, Russell, during season 5. Russell began the season as a rival cook gunning for Monica's job, only to get in her good graces when Joey vouched for his sandwiches. The character, however, did not test well with the well-established Friends audience and the character was killed off after two episodes.

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Blossom

Many Blossom fans remember how well the show balanced comedy and drama, the latter often stemming from Blossom's brother Tony, who struggled with addiction. In later seasons when Blossom ran out of hats and guys out of her league to date, the show spiced things up and incorporated Tony's former drug dealer who was looking to redeem himself. Played by a young D.L. Hughley, DeShaun was written out of the show after the media criticized his romantic affair with Six.

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The Wonder Years

Spurned by Kevin's decision to hang out with Winnie instead of helping him prepare for his Bar Mitzvah, Paul decided to join the Black Panthers in Season four. While the arc only lasted one episode, ABC made the ill-fated decision to alter the classic opening credits in an attempt to attract black viewers.

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Mad About You

A massive white hit of the 90s, Mad About You attracted around 10 million white people per episode. Not bad. But when the show ended after its seventh season, NBC rebooted the series, recasting Helen Hunt with Holly Robinson Peete, who was hot off of the successful run of Hanging With Mr. Cooper, which was also a hit amongst white people, despite its all-black cast. Peete and established star Paul Reiser had some chemistry, though fans accustomed to the loving squabbles with Hunt did not take to the new story lines involving Reiser insisting she not bring fully cooked meals into the movie theater. It was canceled after eight episodes.

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The OC

Despite killing off its worst character, Marissa, The OC struggled to rediscover the magic of its early seasons as it limped into its fourth year. Clearly an attempt to not only remind viewers of Ryan's brooding past but to expand into the black demographic, they added Reginald Vel Johnson to the cast. Johnson, who made his name playing Carl Winslow on Family Matters, was cast as Biggs Peterson, Ryan's tough-talking, but well-meaning, parole officer. The addition was a wild success, but Fox canceled the show soon after, announcing a doomed spin-off for Peter Gallagher's eyebrows.

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