Was Race a Factor in Michael’s Demise? We Think Not

Turns out actor Harold Perinneau saved the biggest bomb for last.

In this week’s TVGuide (hitting newsstands Thursday June 5th), Perinneau insinuates that race might have been a factor in his character getting killed off the show. Telling TVGuide, 

“Listen, if I’m being really candid, there are all these questions about how they respond to black people on the show. Sayid gets to meet Nadia again, and Desmond and Penny hook up again, but a little black boy and his father hooking up, that wasn’t interesting?” Adding, “Instead, Walt just winds up being another fatherless child. It plays into a really big, weird stereotype and, being a black person myself, that wasn’t so interesting.”  

Now far be it from this TV Addict to take an actor to task for being so candid and refreshingly honest [believe me, a rarity in the sound-bite era we live in]. But boy is Mr. Perinneau barking up the wrong tree.

I mean it’s one thing to be angry at showrunners Damon Lindeloff and Carlton Cuse. After-all, they went through all the trouble of bringing Michael back for what exactly? Quite possibly the most anti-climactic/over-hyped return in television history. But to accuse them of offing the character because he is black? Why that’s almost as ridiculous as the entire Nikki and Paulo story-line.

Not only did LOST set the bar for multicultural casting, the show changed the landscape of television drama forever. Do you think HEROES would have gone to the trouble to create such a — for lack of a better word — colorful cast of heroes and villains if they didn’t see how well the story-lines of Sun, Jin, Sayid, Mr. Eko and Ana Lucia played throughout the world? 

Purely evil black smoke monster aside, the beauty of LOST is that it’s the great equalizer. As we’ve come to learn throughout our time on the island, every survivor of Oceanic Flight 815 — from Jack, Kate and Sawyer on down, regardless of race, religion or origin — is incredibly flawed. Like Stephen Colbert, the island doesn’t see color.

It also doesn’t give answers, but that’s an entirely different rant for an entirely different day.

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  • TVFan

    Harold Perrineau should be thankful he got a well paid year vacation in Hawaii and keep his opinions to himself.

  • Hil

    If Perrineau was paying attention he would notice that Parent/Child relationships, for any of the characters on the show, tend to be strained and end in death or separation. There is clearly a Parent/Child pattern going on and Michael/Walt is just one of many. Nothing to do with race.

  • Jacob

    Being killed off because you’re black, probably not. Being killed off because you acquired a DUI, most definitely. Anyone know if that’s the case?

  • DB

    what was Harold Perrineau thinking making those idiotic remarks. Did ANYONE expect Michael to live past this season? NO. When I saw him returning earlier this season, and the fact that there was going to be season one regular killed off this year, the immediate character I thought was Michael. And playing the race card? Now that is just wrong. It’s always sad to see the actor you liked turn into such an ass.

  • Tim

    i dont think he is dead i think jacks dad grabbed him at the last min like he did with Claire

  • Jake

    Tim, Harold better *hope* his character is good and dead, because these comments are career suicide. Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t HE want off the show originally, which forced Michael & Walt to boat away?

    And even if he didn’t, to start throwing race into this equation is really despicable. What, should every person killed off the show go on some public rant about the injustice of it all?? I didn’t want BOONE killed off….should he whine that it’s because he’s prettier than Sawyer?? Sheesh, Harold, get a life. At least we’ll always have “WAAAAALLLLT!”

  • Ally

    Did HP go to the Isiah Washington school of publicity? Why say things like that? Michael killed people. Michael wanted to die. Michael died. Shannon, Boone, and Charlie didn’t get to reunite with their loved ones– because they’re white?

  • http://www.nataliedamschroder.com Natalie J. Damschroder

    Not to mention the whole, “Walt grew three years in two show months and how the hell do we deal with THAT?” issue?

  • Hil

    Natalie, three years passed between the rescue and those scenes with Walt. That is why he looks older. He is older.

    Thinking about this a second time, I can sorta understand the actor’s reaction based on his character’s experiences. It would have been nice if Michael, a struggling dad, got to succeed and live as a father (despite the fact parents on LOST tend to not have happy endings). His character’s path instead seemed to be completed by being selfless for his friends rather than being alive and around for Walt. In that sense I guess he could be disappointed for his character not getting to achieve that other goal, but it is hardly a race issue. A lot of characters on LOST don’t get to have a happy ending. Certainly parents don’t if Ben and Locke and Alex and Jack’s parents are any indication.

  • Common Sense

    I still want to see what’s up with WALT!

    Like, what’s the deal with his book…and the polar bear, his perceived ESP and/or supernatural powers….and how/why he appeared to Locke in the pit. Why was HE targeted for capture by The Others…and then mysteriously let go? Clearly, there’s more to this kid that we know. So what if he’s grown a bit….we’ll overlook it to get the story!!! Don’t leave us dangling on this issue, please.

  • Jones

    And this, my friends, is why the country’s racial issue will never fade away. Because certain folks always have to play the “victim” and bring prejudice into the argument, when there’s no basis for it whatsoever.

    Imagine how far along we’d be as a nation if we’d just followed Rodney King’s advice?

  • 2BTru

    I agree with Harold. It’s not that it’s racist it’s just that it’s a lack of consideration and reflects an thought process (that the writers may not even realize they’re exhibiting ) that it’s common place to have a fatherless Black child. Characters throughout the series have received some sense of closure but not Walt or Michael. That’s IMO shady. At the very least they could’ve had a scene where Hurley told Walt how much his dad loved him and had Hurley give him a hug. It really hurt me to see Walt just *there*–tetherless. I felt this way before I even read Harold’s interview.

  • Hil

    How about a fatherless Locke? Did Locke get a happy ending with his family? Um, no. Parent issues are common in LOST and I would disagree with the assessment that others got good resolutions while Michael got left out. Desmond is the only one that seems clear cut happy to me and that is likely temporary. The rest of them have been screwed over as much or more than Michael when it comes to family and loved ones and not having happy endings.

  • Timwilkins

    Bitter grapes. The character was not going anywhere and “dead” on “lost” is anything but a killer. lol Maybe he would have been back. It’ll be interesting to see if he will now, AFTER speaking out. But the actor is right to be bitter with the “lack of story” and direction. What did he come back for? Window dressing?

  • shanna

    IA 2Btru: I’m not saying that the producers are being racist (or even that HP is all right in this situation) but I think that it is a bit shady that in many ways, Walt and Michael were dropped completely from the show and then brought back awkwardly only to have Michael die. Which does fall into a common racial stereotype.

    Now, given the nature of the show AND that Walt was reintroduced in the finale (which I think was an indication that from now on the show will take place in 2008 with flashbacks to the island), I think HP might have messed up his chances of being asked back, either in flashbacks or through ghost-visions like Christian.

    Btw, Jones – the racial problems in this country will stop when we no longer have people who ARE victims of racial discrimination and violence. And if you believe people are just “playing victim” it will take that much longer for the problem to be solved.

  • 2BTru

    Locke IMO got better than a reunion with his father, he was able to see retribution and he was able to find a purpose on the island.

    Sawyer gave Jack the gift of a Christian story of how Christian wanted to make things right with his son.

    Kate has redemption and love through Aaron.

    Sayid got Nadia.

    Sun comfort in Jin’s baby.

    Sawyer gets the affection of Kate.

    It’s not about long-lasting happiness—we know through the flash forwards that it is fleeting—but the idea that Michael doesn’t get *any* happiness, bothers me.

    S1 we see Michael as a man striving to be a father to a son he doesn’t know, losing his son, getting his son back and then losing him again due to the actions he took to get his son back. He goes back to at least redeem himself for what he has done by trying to save those on the island and he dies in the quest, yet he doesn’t get the one thing he wanted most?

  • mimi

    When I first heard Harold’s remarks, it seemed as if he was repeating a feeling that fans of the shows have made a remark about- Black characters on this show were becoming MIA. Rose was gone for awhile, Mr. Echo (a great character!) was killed off, Walt disappeared (even thogh he seemed to be an integral part of the mystery in the begining?), Michael disappeared and never heard of. Well the writers responded by bringing Michael back, but to what resolve? His relationship with his son is crappy, we still don’t know what is “special” about Walt, and has his inner demons (prior to crash) been resolved? I don’t think so. Was it racist? I’m not sure, but that’s Harold’s opinion. It is very disheartening to see people make comments about Harold’s character, work status, or personal behavior. It is his opinion. Give that to him and just have your own. It is unnecessary and immature to make disparing comments about the man.

  • rottenpear

    Classic. Black dad disappears. Creative!

    I always thought it was racist.

    There is no ambiguity when the black dad is the only black male main character. That’s the part that solidifies the stereotyping/racism/etc. It plays right in to racist people’s weird crap.