Categorised | US TV

Message to ABC's Last Resort: there is a difference between Hawaii and the Caribbean

Posted on December 3, 2012 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Last Resort is generally a rather good drama. However, this epic tale of a rogue US submarine captain who holes up himself and his crew on a Caribbean island when his own government fires on him suffers a little from his choice of filming location: Hawaii.

Now on the one hand, Hawaii does look a lot more like the Caribbean than New York or Los Angeles do. I imagine there are tax deals to be done, too. But it seems it has confused the writers into thinking that Hawaii and the Caribbean are exactly the same in every other regard, too.

So here's a shot from a recent episode, depicting a trial scene. On the left, some islanders; on the right, the US navy. Can you spot something that's not terribly Caribbean about the left side?

Last Resort on Hawaii

Yes, including the man representing the islanders – he's also the head of crime on the island – there are precisely two black people. In the Caribbean.

So now let's have a look at a 'local representative'. Let us look at him and listen to him talk.

Do you see how he sounds not only very very Hawaiian, but he talks about the cultural purity of the island, its traditions from 300 years ago, etc, even though that is in no sense what anyone from the Caribbean would actually say and is a quagmire of historical inaccuracy?

Now, on the one hand, it's good to see the US's 50th state getting some TV work – although there's always Hawaii Five-0. It's also good to see Hawaiian actors (and some non-actors) getting some work. But given how very, very few shows there are with significant numbers of black Americans in the cast, why, when given a show set in the Caribbean, are there precisely two black people in the main cast, one of whom is the main criminal on the island, the other the lead American? And why don't the writers appear to know the slightest thing about the cultures and true histories of Caribbean islands?

UPDATE: I am, as Chris rightly points out, an idiot, since it's actually – despite the occasional dodgy French Caribbean accent – set in the Indian Ocean. How embarrassing. Which makes even less sense (Trident missiles couldn't hit the US from that distance for starters). But as Chris also points out, general points still stand, because whether the made-up island is in the East or West Indian Ocean, it's still not going to be populated by Hawaiians. Or have the cultures portrayed.

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