“Mister Brau” Shows Sea Change in Brazil’s Television

Move over Empire—Mister Brau is taking over Brazil’s airwaves, and, like Empire, it’s causing a buzz in how Brazilian entertainment views its non-white audience. 

Globo’s Mister Brau stars the real-life power couple of Brazil, Lázaro Ramos and Taís Araújo (also known as Brazil’s Jay Z and Beyoncé) as a musical pop duo who have just made the big time and have moved to a ritzy white neighborhood. (The show is a sitcom, but one can imagine that it does feature its fair share of racial and cultural commentary.)

The show reflects the changes many Brazilians have wanted to see for a very long time. Brazil has been thought of as a country without racial prejudices due to there never being any laws enforcing segregation and, as the Guardian states, “widespread miscegenation.” The Guardian spoke to Marques Travae, editor-in-chief of Black Women of Brazil, who said:

“Every nation has its contradictions and its myths. The myth here is that Brazilians have always said we are all mixed so we cannont be racist. In the US the representation of black people in the media is miniscule but it’s much greater than here in Brazil. When you turn on the TV here it’s just whiteness from sun up to sun down, so how are black people supposed to develop a sense of self-esteem?”

Now, there is a louder voice for the minority who haven’t been able to see themselves on TV and in other forms of media, and that voice comes in the form of dollars. Stated TV columnist and screenwriter Tony Goes to the outlet:

“We are seeing the rise of a black middle class which we didn’t have 10 years ago. Now they have enough money to dictate the rules, and they want to see themselves in advertising, and on TV at every level.”

Of course, there’s still a long way to go in Brazil; one black-led show out of many white-led shows won’t solve Brazil’s diversity issue. But it does highlight the racial disparity that happens all across Latin America (not counting Brazil); white faces are shown disproportionately more than black faces or even darker-skinned people in general (usually, the stars of telenovelas are light skinned). It also highlights how America’s not the only country that has a problem with race; we are more open about our issues to a (very small) degree, and the countries that are less open about it and believe in ideas of racial sameness are generally the countries with tons of unanswered and unheard racial problems.

But Mister Brau signals a change and let’s hope that change continues throughout Brazil and to Latin and South America as a whole. What do you think about Mister Brau? Give your opinions in the comments section below!

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Screencap of Mister Brau