CBS’s comedy Superior Donuts is known for its liberal lectures on a variety of topics. But the Monday, December 4 episode, “Error of Admission” had its white characters explain affirmative action to a black character, encouraging him to use the color of his skin as an advantage when applying to schools.
As Franco (Jermaine Fowler), an employee at the donut shop that the series centers around, fills out an application to the college of his dreams, his boss, Arthur (Judd Hirsch), notices that he “forgot” to check off the box marked “African American.”
Franco argues that he left the box unchecked on purpose because he wants to get in based on his merits rather than the color of his skin. I believe this was part of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s dream. Meanwhile, donut shop patron Officer Randy (Katy Segal) and Arthur, both of whom are white, try to persuade Franco to check off the race box, telling him affirmative action is meant to “make the system fairer” and "level the playing field."
Tush: Franco, where are you applying?
Franco: Uh, a bunch of schools around the city. But my dream is Dearborn College. They got this amazing art program.
Randy: Oh, yeah. That is a great school. Very artsy. The only play the football team knows is Death of a Salesman.
Arthur: Yeah, but it's not easy to get into. Hey, you better make sure you proofread that application.
Franco: I did.
Arthur: Really? Oh, you made a mistake right here. You forgot to check the box for African-American.
Franco: No, I didn't. I'm not checking it.
Arthur: Why not?
Randy: Yeah. Colleges like people from different backgrounds. Why not use that to your advantage?
Franco: Well, I never really thought being black and poor as an advantage, although, I do get extra attention when I walk into a store.
Randy: They are just trying to level the playing field.
Franco: Yeah. Affirmative action. I know what it is. If I get in, it'll be because of my test scores and my portfolio. I want to be seen as an artist, not a black artist.
Fawz: Good for you. I feel the same way. No handouts. When my older son applied to college, I wouldn't let him identify as anything but American.
Arthur: Remind me, Fawz, what was his name?
Fawz: Abdullah Farooq Hussein al-shahrani.
Randy: Look, they're just trying to make the system fairer.
Franco: Look, I got nothing against those programs, but they're just not for me. All right? I don't want people thinking I don't deserve to be there. Or looking at me like, "Oh, that's how he got in."
Arthur: Well, if they were looking at you, it means you got in.
Franco: I'm not doing it, all right?
Arthur ends up checking the box for Franco behind his back and submits the application for him. When Franco finds out, he first suspects that’s why he was accepted to Dearborn. In the end, however, he was accepted because he’s an older student, not because he’s black.
Even though this is still a form of affirmative action, Franco is relieved and happy to hear the news that it was his age that got him accepted. This doesn’t make much sense considering that Franco wanted to be accepted on his merits alone. Which just goes to show, making a liberal point means more to Hollywood than making sense.