We found the missing member of 'The Class'

152341__class_lIf you watched CBS’ The Class last night or last week, you may have wondered about the lack of diversity among the reuniting alumni from a Philadelphia grade school. We thought we spotted a couple of black kids in the old class photos. As it turns out, one of them emerged to send his old playground pals an (entirely fictional) open letter, which PopWatch is reprinting below.

To my former Class-mates:

Hey guys, I don’t know if you remember me from Mrs. Klinger’s third grade class. My name is Ferrell Dorfman. My picture is right above Ethan Haas’ in the school yearbook — and in the opening credits, for that matter. (You can see me about 1:29 into this promo clip from the show. I was one of only two black kids in the whole class, if that helps.) Anyway, I was thrilled to hear that Ethan was marrying Joanne Richmond from that year and even more psyched to find out that he was getting us all together to celebrate their engagement.

Granted, I didn’t know many of you that well back then. I guess that’s what happens when, at such a young age, your mother sticks you on an ugly, yellow bus every morning and ships you off to a strange neighborhood 45 minutes away where all the kids already seem to know each other and share cultural references and an economic background that couldn’t possibly be more foreign to you. A kid could have trouble adapting and end up being called ”difficult” by everyone from the principal to the lunch lady. But, hey, that’s water under the bridge.

After so many years, we’re all pretty much strangers now, right? So I was really looking forward to reuniting and seeing how our lives have diverged, and quite possibly converged. Needless to say, I was more than a little disappointed when I found that I had actually missed the party Ethan threw. It was an unfortunate, totally understandable case of not being invited. I blame myself.

Anyhoo, I hear that several of you have begun new friendships,rekindled old relationships, and will likely be getting together on amore or less regular basis, say, every Monday night at 8, before How I Met Your Mother.That sounds sooo cool to me, and in the hopes of being included beforeyou all get cancelled too busy, I thought I’d write thisletter catching you up briefly on where I’ve been these past years.

In junior high, like many people from our generation, I endured my parents’splitting up. (Divorce: it’s not a black thing or a white thing; it’s a brokenhome thing) I was a typical teenager, experimenting with cigarettes,alcohol, and other things that I can refer to vaguely yet hilariouslyduring our many spirited conversations to come. I also datedinterracially in college, so I’m totally down to hook up with whoever’snot yet paired off, or may find themselves single in seasons to come –especially the blonde hottie, Nicole. Yowza! (I can also never mentionrace or ethnicity ever again if that would make everyone morecomfortable.)

These days, I’m an executive at a record label, which makes mecool, but totally responsible. We handle some rap, but nothing toothreatening, I assure you. And, boy, do I know a lot of greatnightclubs we could go to when we get tired of sitting around in eachothers’ apartments or at the coffeeshop nearby. My hobbies are tennis,drinking lattes in the middle of the day, overhearing andmisinterpreting answering machine messages, and watching reality TV. (Istill can’t believe that Omarosa — what a bi-atch!) Of course, myfavorite all-time television show is Friends, which, in a lot of ways, reminds me of our little group. But they’ll never have the diversity we have — right, guys? Call me.

Best,

Ferrell Dorfman

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Comments (36 total) Add your comment
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  • Phil

    I already posted a comment last week on the Blog Item referencing TV PREIMIERE WEEK BEGINS, but I stand by exactly what I said. I’m from the city of south Philadephia and was shipped off to a private Catholic school out in the suburbs as a kid, and I took the only bus that had route in the city to the school. I think I had a handful of African American and Asian classmates. This was over 20 years ago, when schools were not as diversified as they are now. I really feel that the continual beating over the head of this topic in regards to the new CBS sitcom THE CLASS is an un-necessary and un-called for attack. I wish the EW writers and fans realize that this show’s history is rooted in the past, and unlike many of the colorful casts of shows represented today, is true to the story they are trying to tell. I am sorry if other races or ethnicities feel left out, but its a true representation of the Philadelphia suburbs of twnety years ago.
    Neil Drumming, I am not familiar with your work, or even know who you are, but I am speaking from experience here, and I will defend the producers and creators of THE CLASS, since that was My life, and I feel they are representing it EXACTLY as it should be told. Neil if you’re from the Philly area or shared similair experiences than fine, but your sarcastic, if only fictional letter in this blog item, I feel is continuing to strees race relations issues over this show, when I feel that they are actually not mis-appropriating anything. I am by NO means racist or ignorant, but THE CLASS truly captures the demographic of the locale of the story. Please leave this topic ALONE.

  • jon

    I guess I’ll say something since no one else will…
    Hi, Phil, nice to meet you. That’s a nice shirt, anyway, wanted to say that while I completely agree with you on the merit of historical accuracy, I did think we should stop and consider that “The Class” is a television show.
    Just like I don’t think there would be that many black doctors working in a ritzy hospital in Seattle like on “Grey’s Anatomy,” it’s still a good thing to have diversity on television. Because it’s a thing that everybody watches, including people with a darker….
    Okay, I think I’m losing you but keep in mind, people talk about it because in this day and age it’s kind of absurd to have a cast so large be so white. Plus, to reference black people in the fictional yearbook but not include them is kinda odd, no? No. OK, forget I said anything…

  • Stephanie Travitsky

    It is a good thing to have diversity in a television show but, the writer is probably writing about his own experiences growing up in a suburb of Philly that did not have much racial diversity. It does not mean that the neighbors of that suburb are racists, it just means that that the demographic of that area has a lack of diversity. Ie- Greenpoint, New York does not have much racial diversity because 97 percent of the population is Polish Caucasian. Us Brooklynites call it “Pol Town”. If the show is trying to stay true to the actual area then leave it be.

  • paige

    i always thought of Greenpoint as hipsterville…

  • T

    Phil –
    1) Who looks to a 30 minute sitcom to be a true representation of society? The producers could have had as diverse of a cast as they desired, just as primarily all New Yorkers were Caucasian in Friends.
    2) Just because you grew up in a sheltered suburb of a diverse city that I personally love does not mean that that is every Philly native’s reality. Your childhood was clearly not diverse (and apparently the producers of The Class) but that does not mean that this is a “true representation” of what schools were like 20 years ago. I don’t really care since I think the show sucks, but your response does come across as ignorant.

  • Phil

    I don’t see how my response can possibly come across as ignorant. And I never once referenced FRIENDS though I knew that was going to come up over the race debate regarding this show, since the creators of that show are the driving minds behind THE CLASS. FRIENDS was totally in its own bubble towards un-diversifying its cast, and as taking place in the melting pot that was and is NYC, they should have had much more colorful faces along their tenure, which I totally agree upon. You can’t walk down a street in NYC without encountering just about every nationality imaginable, and yet, for how many season did we only catch glimpses of Aishia Tyler? (please excuse me for inaccuracies as I was never a avid fan of FRIENDS.)
    But this is something completely different. Philadelphia suburbs twenty years ago did not have more than a handful of African American or Asian children in their schools because many of their parents could not afford to send them. That is not racist or ignorant, seeing as how I’m sure if someone pulled up consensus & economic household earnnings. That sounds a bit dramatic, but I’m not one to argue if I don’t feel there are facts to back me up.
    And one more thing T, I didn’t grow up in ‘a sheltered suburb of a diverse city’…I GREW UP IN THE DAMN CITY. Did you CLEARLY miss the part of my original post where I said, I was BUSED out to the private suburban school and was on the only bus route that went to the school from the inner city?? Once again, I wish people would CLEARLY read statements all the way through before commenting on impulses. NOW WHO’S IGNORANT?

  • T

    Phil –
    Actually, the portion that I found ignorant was that u seem to believe that a 30 minute sitcom should be rooted in history (I quote “this show’s history is rooted in the past”, “The Class truly captures the demographic of the locale”) and Friends was a clear representation that no sitcom is necessarily historically or even currently accurate. IT’S A SITCOM!! And if u would have read my statement (instead of emotionally responding to a portion of the second portion, u would have realized that.

  • Phil

    T,
    Perhaps I am confused by you, completey. Why am I considered IGNORANT for believing that a 30 minute sitcom can be rooted in history? Sure, its a stretch, and not 100% TRUE, but could be SOMEWHAT true, why is that imposible? It would seem to me that you would be ignorant for finding fault in creating a sitcom based on the past, a very real past that could be a true representation of SOME people’s lives from 20 yrs. ago. I feel that you are playing off my words & trying to cover your butt and admitting that everything EVERYWHERE, all sorts of art, or in this case, a television show is based off of a thought or an experience. I fail to see how this is any different, or inconceivable for THE CLASS. I just see this as a pointless race issue thats carried over from FRIENDS, and thats what I have a problem with because YES, on that sitcom, it would have been impossible to not have a more diverse cast. To be honest, I like THE CLASS, but I don’t love it, but I really feel that reviewers and reporters are trying to make an argument about race just because its unimaginable to have such a large ensemble cast being mostly caucasian. I’m sorry this upsets people, and I hate to be even talking about it, but the fact of the matter IS, such places existed LESS than a quarter of a century ago whether we want to it admit it or not. Don’t be mad that people are actually acknowledging this fact at the present. the show hasn’t even had a full months of shows, let alone an entire season. Maybe they will diversify the cast, but it might not even reach that point in the season if the show keeps getting such critiques regarding its race issues.
    I can not believe I’m even writing about this.

  • Jonathan

    That show sucks, i watched the pilot off of EW’s Front Row Panel, and i didn’t laugh once. I loved Friends, but The Class is just laughless.

  • Chris

    I actually went to grade school in Philadelphia (not Philly suburbs). There was one black family in all eight years of going to school there. I am not saying its a good thing or a bad thing, but saying that this would never happen is ridiculous. “How I met your mother”

  • Chris

    I actually went to grade school in Philadelphia (not Philly suburbs). There was one black family in all eight years of going to school there. I am not saying its a good thing or a bad thing, but saying that this would never happen is ridiculous. “How I met your mother” is a better show anyway.

  • t

    Phil – since you seem to be hard of understanding and quite defensive, i’ll make my point crystal clear –
    Fact: TV shows do not have to be an accurate representation of a city’s culture and can include/exclude whoever the writer/producer/network executives want.
    My Opinion: It is contradictory to have Friends set in a version of New York where non-whites don’t exist and claim “creative licensing” and also have The Class set in an enviroment where non-whites don’t exist and claim “accuracy”. Example – If they wanted, they could have a Native American, a Chinese American and A Puerto Rican and claim “creative licensing”. Clearly, they just don’t want non-whites to exist in their sitcoms. I feel that believing that the people who gave us Friends – which everyone agrees was inaccurate- excluded non-whites in the Class just to ensure that the sitcom IS “historically accurate” is ignorant. And I’m entitled to that opinion.
    More of my opinion: Although it would be great to see a diverse landscape on television, it’s perfectly fine with me if they don’t want non-whites. Conversely, there are plenty of telenovelas and African-American sticoms where whites don’t exist. Just don’t BS me with “historical accuracy”.
    Lastly, I seriously doubt anybody would be discussing this if it wasn’t the exact same people who gave us Friends (since we aren’t discussing the racial landscape of Brothers and sisters or any of the other 12,000 new shows). And trust me, there is absolutely no reason whatsoever that I would ever feel the need to “cover my butt”.

  • BJohnson

    OK it seems that once again we have put too much stock in television as the representation of the world. And we as audience members have to complain. “Oh it’s an all white cast, they didn’t show diversity” or “Oh look at those token non whites in this show.” I’m black and attended and all black high school and if I chose to write about my life in elementary school it wouldn’t have white people in it. Does that make me racist? No just telling the story the way I know how. I actually liked the show, I like quirky shows like that. So there’s my two cents…please can you blog about something else now?

  • Phil

    T,
    You’re just frustarting me now. First you frsutrated me by calling me ignorant, & then you’ve further frustrated me by clearing ignoring every logical post I’ve since come back with. Well now I’m going to call you out for being ignorant. You claim that the creators of the show could have characters of Puerto Rican, Native American or of Asian American descent. Its true that Philadelphia happens to be one of the largest cities on the East Coast, & was probably the 5th largest city in the U.S. some twnety years ago, but if you stopped arguing with me and actually checked you FACTS, you would have come to the SAME conclusion as I in learning that the Hispanic, Native American and Asian American populations in Philly are not as large as elsewhere in the country and were even SMALLER some twenty years ago. I don’t know whats worse, someone who calls someone else ignorant, or someone such as yourself that perpetuates the cycle of their own ignorance. You should stop calling me ignorant and go out and expand your OWN consciousness. The sitcom’s locale is spot on to the story its trying to tell. Are you going to argue with every Philadelphian who also claims you COULD BE wrong?

  • Why? Why not?

    All of the discussion on this subject leaves out one important thing. Whether or not it’s “historically accurate,” or the producers went to all-white schools, or there just aren’t that many people of color in their neighborhoods – so what? The main question is – “why not?” It’s just as easy to throw in a Black/Hispanic/Native American/Asian person as another Caucasian; why do so many programs not bother? What’s wrong with wanting to watch a program with more than just white faces on it? It’s like deciding to help an old lady cross the street; it may be outside of your normal experience, but who’s it gonna hurt? You might even feel better about yourself. Speaking as a black person from the OC, I’ll say it would be a breath of fresh air.
    I’m gonna go hold my breath now.

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