11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on October 17, 2006
An intriguing look at issues of race. Take a black family and turn them white. Take a white family and turn them black. Put them in a house to live together for the duration of the experiment, and place them into various situations (some, very racially charged) and watch as both races move slowly toward the center,
The first couple of episodes may cause you to form opinions on several of the participants, but stay with it. You will find that people can and do change their perspectives, even on topics as hot as race. The one who found a place in my heart was Rose, and I suspect you may grow attached to her as well. The other players have personalities that seem to be works in progress, but this seems to be a good thing, which adds to my fascination. I am awarding 5 stars only because it is worthy of 4 and a half but no such option exists.
Give this one a try and you may find that it is something you will want to share with your children. There is however some language that you may find inappropriate for younger viewers. Although most of the harsher language has been bleeped, more sensitive parents may find what is left to be too offensive.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
"Black. White." gives us a fascinating, attention-grabbing look at what it can be like "to be" in someone else's skin--in this case, a white family is made-up to appear black and a black family is made-up to look white all using studio quality make-up. Actually, "despite being called `The Wurgels' (Carmen's name by marriage) the three white participants were not exactly a family in the strictest sense of the term. Film actor (referred to here as a teacher) Bruno Marcotulli, his girlfriend Carmen, and Carmen's daughter Rose Bloomfield, a child actor who starred on the Disney television show 'Movie Surfers,' until she quit shortly after being cast in Black.White, are white middle-class suburbanites from Santa Monica, California; and the Sparkses (Brian, Renee, and son Nick) are a black middle-class family from Atlanta, Georgia. True, perhaps one cannot truly understand someone of a different race simply by wearing make-up, but nevertheless this series depicts a meaningful and honest exploration of what it's like to be a person of another race.
In addition, the make-up was very convincing; it allowed people from both families to experience the world and its different cultures and attitudes in ways they otherwise never would have experienced. The two families also had to live under one roof during the six week experience and everyone understood that it was OK for disagreements and even arguments to be openly dealt with on camera. Talk about reality TV that's intelligent and insightful! Another reviewer notes that even though some offensive language was edited out of these episodes, there still may be some word that might offend more sensitive people. However, this remains an excellent, brilliant experiment (and experience) that both families--and this viewer--won't forget anytime soon.
I don't want to give away too much for fear of spoiling it all for you; but here are just a few of the situations we see: Rose, a young white girl made-up to look black, really and truly struggles to understand the way blacks experience the world--with all the good and the bad that comes with it. Carmen, the mother of the white family, does indeed overcompensate and makes a huge mistake when referring to Renee, the black mother, as a b****; Carmen actually thinks this is a friendly gesture but she quickly learns it isn't! Carmen also steps in mud when she refers to a black person as a "creature;" this quickly stirs tensions and it isn't the only time we see these families fight. In addition, Renee, wearing the makeup of a white person, has to put up with an incredibly dull witted man in a bar who tells her how blacks have to "assimilate" into white America simply because this country was founded by white people.
The two DVD set comes with some really nice extras. I particularly liked Ice Cube's music video and the original casting video. There is a make-up application slide-show and more.
Overall, this six part series does an incredibly good job of documenting an almost unique experiment in which a white family is made-up to appear black and a black family is made-up to appear white--it gives all the people involved--and the viewer--lots of food for thought. I highly recommend this two DVD set for people studying social and cultural issues between blacks and whites in America; and people interested in race and racism will not be disappointed.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on August 22, 2011
A fascinating marvel which is sure to be interesting, and possibly very frustrating, to watch. The make up alone is worth checking out the series and its pretty incredible that a little Hollywood movie magic can transform people off the screen so convincingly.
I am really surprised that there hasn't been more talk in the wake of this first airing on F/X years ago. As a person of mixed heritage myself, I found this to be a gripping social experiment, even aside from some of the stupid "reality show" un-reality that is created around it to make it good tv. I would love to see this viewed and discussed in seminars or classes, particularly those focused on the new buzzword "diversity." The DVD comes with an accompanying study guide, but I haven't examined its utility yet because there is plenty of stuff to get a heated debate going without it. It has been the source of some really good insights and conversations which change depending on the people watching by race, gender and generation.
I think this is potentially a marvelous tool for bridging the gap which still seems present between races (and perhaps even generations) today. I mean, how often does someone really get a chance to be someone else in such a way that will change the way OTHERS perceive you? I say "potentially" because there are a few pitfalls, and the elephant in the room is not so much a race issue, but a class issue as well - it is no accident that the people selected for this were upper-middle class families. It would change the entire dynamic in a slew of different ways to shift the economics of the situation. I will say though, that it is not an easy topic to tackle, and believe it or not, this is by far the most respectable reality-tv I've ever seen. Its actually SMART, despite the obvious temptation to take it someplace much more scandalous and sensational - especially considering both the topic and the network on which it aired. I commend the producers on a job very well done.
I highly recommend buying and watching this, preferably several times, and in different company, particularly if you are a student of human nature. I think that both the participants and the audience are afforded many opportunities to learn something, and applaud the young lady, Rose, for being someone who gives me new hope for people as a species by being a spectacular example of open-mindedness and adaptation.
On a personal note, the one thing I was a little disappointed about was something I sensed coming from the black family. Several times they mention how the white family would "learn something" about what it was like to be black, while they would "get to" experience being white. I was disappointed that they didn't come away with a better understanding of what it must be like to always be having to avoid looking like a racist no matter what they say. Then I realized that if there was even ground on that topic in the first place, such a show would not even have been necessary to make...
I don't recommend this for anyone with anger management issues or hyper-sensitivity regarding race though. It could end up being a little inflammatory.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on August 15, 2008
The idea behind the show was fascinating. But it lost something in the actual execution. The adults in both families seem determined to prove their racial counterparts wrong, rather than learn from each other. Don't get me wrong; the white parents would inspire this reaction in anyone, especially the father. But everyone involved (except the children) are only interested in claiming the honor of being right. The fact that they don't maintain their public disguises for the duration of the series doesn't help matters.
As for the DVDs, I was hoping the commentary from the cast members would shed some light on the episodes. I've only seen the ladies' commentary so far, and I didn't hear any discussion on the arguments that took place, in particular the exchange over the use of the word "bitch". The show and the DVD extras proved to be disappointing all around.
on February 17, 2014
The concept was a great idea, however I feel that they choose some of the worst people to make the show have drama. Some of the characters seem to highly on one spectrum and filled with complete ignorance. It could have been seen from showing how different people view racism/prejudice/stereotypes there were too many issues between the characters and some don't understand the purpose of it. Also the things that they have the children do to put them in the other races shows is not very normal in my opinion. i.e. How many white people go to etiquette school?
on February 6, 2012
to be honest i had never even heard of this show until i married my black husband. it could be one of the most interesting/insightful shows i have ever seen. this is a must see show for everyone... no matter what race. it just shows how differently we treat each other because of our skin color... sad!
on May 9, 2009
I was very pleased to receive this product just as it was promised at a very reasonable price. I am very glad to have found the DVD since I was using Netflix and since I show only a few clips a day owning the DVD is great.
on February 13, 2009
We Dutch people are pretty far in excepting other people's religion, colour, tradtions, etc. etc. So, it really struck me that the black vs. white issue is still so vived in the US! Wanne see what I mean?! Watch it!!!
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on February 1, 2009
I found this profound study, Black. White., deeply fascinating. Unable to tear myself away, I stayed up until 3:30am. That it somewhat falls short in laying bare the hidden processes by which the participants arrive at each their conclusions curiously doesn't detract from the compelling nature and effectiveness of this work. Like mine, your feelings will probably veer back and forth, you will form and revise opinions as you go along and I recommend you see all six episodes to get the full value of what this series offers. Each is worth your time and my hat is off to the creators. I don't want to say too much so as not to spoil the impact and therapeutic value. I had expected this program to be informative, but it turned out to be so much more. I had not expected to be changed as a viewer, and yet, in the same way that the participants were changed inexplicably, so was I. And, lastly, I ended up loving each person.
on April 12, 2013
This is a great show, started watching it in my Sociology class and liked it so much, I purchased it!