From The Fresh Prince of Bel Air to Insecure via Migos, how the trope is ultimately coming of age
When Donald Glover kicked off a great year for television at the Golden Globes this January, the soundtrack to his success was obvious:” I really want to thank the Migos ,” he said as he accepted Atlanta‘s accolade for best Tv series- musical or comedy.” Not for being on the depict, but for making Bad and Boujee. Like, that’s the best song ever .” The next day, as if to demonstrate the deeply felt honesty of these comments, footage of Glover get down to the trail at an afterparty turned up on Instagram.
For US audiences, Migos likely required no introduction. The Atlanta-based trio had been in the charts with Bad and Boujee( featuring Lil Uzi Vert) since the track’s freeing in October 2016( eventually reaching No 1 following that plug from Glover) and the lyric” rainfall fell, plummet top” had spawned numerous Twitter memes. The video, featuring beautiful wives draped in pearls while journeying dirt bikes, and eating fast food from Chanel logo-emblazoned takeout boxes , now has more than 500 million YouTube views. In the UK, where the trail only reached No 30 in February, audiences may be less very well known Migos, but they’ll still understand the reference; the black, bougie princess has been a mainstay on Tv for decades.
The word ” bougie”, arising from the French word bourgeoisie, will likewise be familiar to English-speaking TV viewers the world over. Nonetheless, as the Migos song suggests, the word’s spelling variants are beginning to take on subtly different meanings. There’s ” bougie”, signifying a all the members of a wealthy social class and the manners that go with it; “bougee”, which more often carries the pejorative sense of acting above one’s true social status. Then there’s Migos’s ” boujee”, a word that is still mapping out a new, more positive definition.
The mother of all TV’s bougie princesses is Dynasty’s Dominique Deveraux, a character initially dreamed up by the actor who played her, Diahann Carroll. After Carroll was cast in the nighttime soap in 1984, she spelled out her purposes for the specific characteristics in an interview with People magazine: “[ Tv has] done everything. They’ve done incest, homosexuality, assassination. I think they’re gradually inching their lane toward interracial. I want to be wealthy and ruthless … I want to be the first black bitch on tv .”
As the years progressed, so did the Tv trope. There was A Different World’s southern belle Whitley Gilbert( played by Jasmine Guy from 1987 to 1993 ), finickity fashion plate Lisa Turtle on Saved By the Bell( 1989 to 1993 ), self-centred valley girl Hilary Banks on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air from 1990 to 1996 and Dionne Davenport in Clueless, both the original 1995 movie and the 1996 -9 9 spin-off TV series. Stacey Dash, the actor who played Dionne, afterwards had a return to the limelight when she became a Republican party-supporting Fox News pundit, which, given this context at least, isn’t an wholly surprising job move.
For both white and black audiences, these early Tv representations of wealthy, educated black womanhood were also something of a novelty.” For most of film and television services and facilities history, the images of black ladies have been belittling ,” says Mia Mask, prof of cinema at New York’s Vassar College and author of Divas on Screen: Black Women in American Film.” It was not until the 1980 s that the bougie parody emerged and reappeared with regularity .” Yes, it was still a parody, but unlike the mammy or the jezebel it was a glamorous one. Mask credits the late-6 0s sitcom Julia with putting the very first black middle-class girl on US TV, played by Diahann Carroll again,” but “shes not” what we’d call a bougie princess. She was a single mother who worked as a nurse but had middle-class values .”