Debra Lee, Anika Noni Rose Respond To ‘Quad’ Criticism
Style Magazine Newswire | 2/20/2017, noon
BET’s new show scripted show about a fictional Black college, The Quad, has generated some positive reviews. But its storylines that include a shady band director, a strip club-owning alumnus, a college president with secrets and issues of her own have angered others. Hampton University’s president, William R. Harvey had several issues with the show after seeing the first extended episode and fired off an angry letter to BET’s president Debra L. Lee.
While Black Twitter reminded Harvey that the show was fictional, Lee took the criticism seriously and responded to Harvey, as did the show’s star, FAMU grad Anika Noni Rose.Just after the show premiered, Harvey sent Lee a scathing letter criticizing the show. He called it “a sad, derisive and degenerating story,” and “an incredibly disparaging depiction of the HBCUs I know and love.”
Harvey continued: “Devoid of any reference to academics, The Quad is about a president who is promiscuous, trustees who are unwilling to deal with a rogue band director, and a band director who condones criminal activity on the part of his drum major.
The Quad will lead many to believe that HBCUs exist because of their marching bands; that our presidents are unethical; that our boards are dysfunctional and have misplaced priorities; that our faculty, students and administrators are driven by sex, alcohol, marijuana, low self-esteem, parties and a preoccupation with music; that it is acceptable to disrespect women; that university policy can be set by a band director; and that there are no standards of conduct or penalties for bad behavior.
This depiction seems more analogous to a disgruntled, adolescent and unrealistic point of view that some may have. It also feeds a false narrative about the irrelevance of HBCUs.”
EBONY caught up with Lee at BET Presents The American Black Film Festival Honors to get her thoughts on Harvey’s criticism.
“I talked to Dr. Harvey the other day and we had a good conversation. He started off by saying conversation is key, and I listened to him and he listened to me. I respect his opinion,” Lee said. “My point that I emphasized was that this was a fictional story. It’s not representing any particular college.
Fictional TV has drama, you have good guys and bad guys. We had a good conversation and I hope students, administrators and parents will take the issues that we’re dealing with on The Quad seriously and discuss them during and after the show, because we are dealing with serious issues that happen on all campuses, not just HBCUs.”
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