Empire

Depictions of race get real, complicated on 'Star,' 'This Is Us'

Depictions of race get real, complicated on 'Star,' 'This Is Us'

Since watching "Hairspray Live" Wednesday, with its story of racial relations in 1962 Baltimore, I have been thinking a lot about race and television.

One of my main thoughts: New network series like NBC's "This Is Us" and Fox's "Star," which debuts Wednesday, show how much more complex depictions of racial identity have become since the '80s — when John Waters crafted the initial "Hairspray" film narrative.

These two shows arrive this season on a network landscape that already included such award-winning productions as ABC's "Black-ish" and "Scandal," as well as Fox's "Empire." If you include cable, you...

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