"Black. White." gives us a fascinating, attention-grabbing look at what it can be like "to be" in someone else's skin--in this case, a white family is made-up to appear black and a black family is made-up to look white all using studio quality make-up. Actually, "despite being called `The Wurgels' (Carmen's name by marriage) the three white participants were not exactly a family in the strictest sense of the term. Film actor (referred to here as a teacher) Bruno Marcotulli, his girlfriend Carmen, and Carmen's daughter Rose Bloomfield, a child actor who starred on the Disney television show 'Movie Surfers,' until she quit shortly after being cast in Black.White, are white middle-class suburbanites from Santa Monica, California; and the Sparkses (Brian, Renee, and son Nick) are a black middle-class family from Atlanta, Georgia. True, perhaps one cannot truly understand someone of a different race simply by wearing make-up, but nevertheless this series depicts a meaningful and honest exploration of what it's like to be a person of another race.
In addition, the make-up was very convincing; it allowed people from both families to experience the world and its different cultures and attitudes in ways they otherwise never would have experienced. The two families also had to live under one roof during the six week experience and everyone understood that it was OK for disagreements and even arguments to be openly dealt with on camera. Talk about reality TV that's intelligent and insightful! Another reviewer notes that even though some offensive language was edited out of these episodes, there still may be some word that might offend more sensitive people. However, this remains an excellent, brilliant experiment (and experience) that both families--and this viewer--won't forget anytime soon.
I don't want to give away too much for fear of spoiling it all for you; but here are just a few of the situations we see: Rose, a young white girl made-up to look black, really and truly struggles to understand the way blacks experience the world--with all the good and the bad that comes with it. Carmen, the mother of the white family, does indeed overcompensate and makes a huge mistake when referring to Renee, the black mother, as a b****; Carmen actually thinks this is a friendly gesture but she quickly learns it isn't! Carmen also steps in mud when she refers to a black person as a "creature;" this quickly stirs tensions and it isn't the only time we see these families fight. In addition, Renee, wearing the makeup of a white person, has to put up with an incredibly dull witted man in a bar who tells her how blacks have to "assimilate" into white America simply because this country was founded by white people.
The two DVD set comes with some really nice extras. I particularly liked Ice Cube's music video and the original casting video. There is a make-up application slide-show and more.
Overall, this six part series does an incredibly good job of documenting an almost unique experiment in which a white family is made-up to appear black and a black family is made-up to appear white--it gives all the people involved--and the viewer--lots of food for thought. I highly recommend this two DVD set for people studying social and cultural issues between blacks and whites in America; and people interested in race and racism will not be disappointed.