Still, Isabel’s vow of silence keeps her from being sucked into the hyperbolic universe of sex, drugs and Cocoa Puffs, commonly referred to as the Upper East Side. And that’s not so bad. Not for her. And not for the young, black private school girls who might be compelled to act like her. Maybe keeping Isabel’s character hopelessly bland is keeping some real life Isabels from getting kicked out of their fancy schools. Or getting grounded.
I’m not the only one who has mixed feelings about adding more color to the in-crowd. “I’d hate to see the black and Latino kids carrying on in the sex-crazed, drug-addicted ‘fun’ that seems to plague the show,” said Cecilia Ramirez, 25, another Brooks alum. “But I think I’d equally cringe at the sight of seeing the token black kid as the captain of the football team wearing baggy jeans and saying ‘Yo’ at the beginning of every sentence. It’s a tough call.”
So, Entertainment Weekly was right to argue that slapping “on tired stereotypes to supporting characters is painfully out-of-touch and downright offensive.” But simply giving Isabel more stupid things to say or more blonde-haired boys to do won’t cut it either. Until the show decides to paint shades of gray in her black-girl-at-private-school experience, I’d rather she stay in the background.
Helena Andrews is a regular contributor to The Root.