Is Psych perpetuating sterotypes?

I mean Gus is the typical black guy sidekick character who is supposedly the "smart one" but Shawn is always making him look dumb and dopey but Gus still laughs and is okay with it and Gus never gets any girls and Shawn gets them all. At first I didn't realize the possible undertones of this but I did think it was pretty silly that Shawn gets all the girls but then my friend said it was one step above a minstrel show and explained what that is. Im not sure if they meant it to be like that but I understand what he was saying, and no he isn't racist or nor is he black he is a white guy saying this so I dont know what I should think.

On some level I think alot of these views of the trusty black sidekick guy play out in pop culture whether or not it is racist is debatable but it is definitely a stereotype that just seems like that is all there is nowadays, either the trusty black sidekick guy or the gangsta thug guy? What do you guys think?



Large good to be queen
Jul 8, 2009 3:55AM EDT

I disagree. As Shawn's friend, Gus probably realises that Shawn makes Gus look a bit dopey out of shame that Gus is not only smarter, but he has a stable job, a two parent family, a decent living, and a car. Shawn does not. Shawn is a con artist, a funny one, but still a con artist. Gus, on the other hand, has far less guile, which by extension can only place him in the role of sidekick, regardless of the colour of his skin.
I think it's being overthought.

Jul 8, 2009 10:57PM EDT

well put, i agree. 'sides, isnt the actor who plays Gus one of the executive producers/writers on a couple of the shows? i dont think he takes a side kick role off camera, so i dont think he'd let himself take that role when on camera.

Default avatar cat
Jul 9, 2009 10:33PM EDT

As a negro, I find exception and base offense at the very proposition-- Psych is an excellent example of positive race relations. The original poster suggests that because Gus does not get all the women (not true, anyway, cf. Myra) and is generally second place to shawn, this is somehow racist-- But this is excatly why Psych is a wonderful show. The lead characters are written according to their unique personalities in a way that is almost completely detached from racial stereotypes.

Basically, the poster's arguement would only bear credence if gus was a rapper or a drug dealer. As it stands he's an excellent role model, in touch with his african heritage yet unafraid of confronting and surmounting racial expectations

Default avatar cat
Jul 10, 2009 7:55PM EDT

Here, here. The thought of race never even entered my mind. In fact if you want to say anything at all, it would have to be what orestes said above. Well said, and argument over. I believe, anway.

Default avatar cat
Jul 17, 2009 3:45PM EDT

I couldn't disagree with you more. In my opinion everything you said is just wrong. The "Black Sidekick" is never a smart well dressed educated man. He is usually only there for the comic relief one-liners, which Gus isnt. Gus gets just as much billing as Shawn does, they are supposed to be opposites that balance each other out. Shawn does not get all the girls, they always have Gus interacting with woman. There was an entire episode about how Gus was married. There was the girl and the planatarium that Gus actually took on dates. There was the girl at the speed dating thing that Gus takes back to Henry's house. So that arugement doesnt fly.
The very mention of this being a minstrel show is just stupid. Because Gus is smart and doesnt listen to rap music have his hair in corn rows, wear platium jewlery and speak in ebonics than you think he doesnt act "Black" enough for you. I really cant stand when people talk about "Black" as if it is a specific way you have to act. In my opinion, acting Black is fake. Black people have to try and talk different try and act different to be considered the correct "Black." I would classify Gus as a normal educated black man who doesnt put on a front about who he is. It is nice to have this kind of positive image of a black man on tv showing african american kids they dont have to act like gansters to be "Black." This isnt the first smart black man Dule Hill has played either, he was on West Wing as well, so bravo for him taking roles that dont play into stereotypes, I am sure he has been offered many roles where he has to "act" black, nice to see a pattern of he playing intelligent black men. Please go back and tell your friend he is an idiot, that is just a stupid comment to bring up.

Default avatar cat
Aug 24, 2009 10:57PM EDT

ak10 .. you took the words right from me ... I couldn't agree with you more ..

Default avatar cat
Sep 2, 2009 12:32PM EDT

Ak10 I agree with you are saying 100 percent what I was trying to convey through a snippet of my friend and I's conversation is that all of the "black" roles (like you said) on television are either gangsters or drug dealers, and of course sports players. The sad thing is, especially in this country young black men arent taken seriously unless your a gangster or you have an amazing 40 time. (yds)
If you aren't one of the above then you will be like typical supporting character like Gus. Our debate wasnt on whether Gus is a horrible character or not "black" enough or whatever (even tho I know many stereotypical people both black and white who would say that he isnt; im not one of them btw). It is just that what we are trying to say is that Gus IS the "supporting" character and yes Shawn DOES make him look foolish in front of everyone all the time and that Gus ALMOST NEVER makes Shawn look foolish.
And yes Shawn gets WAY MORE GIRLS than Gus lets be serious. I really only paid attention to the first two seasons or so but I can think of (the FBI fake Psychic girl, the one waitress at the restaurant who Gus left so Shawn could have the one on one with, Rachel Leigh Cook, Jules, and how about the one girl who stole the wedding ring?) and those are only ones that I can REMEMBER in the first two seasons im sure their is alot more. Shawn AT LEAST GETS TWICE as many girls as Gus especially in the first two seasons although I heard its a little more fair now.
After reading what TVqueen said I agree maybe I we were overthinking it a little bit too much but it would be more refreshing to see some more intelligent black male characters on TV who are smart AND arent put down all the time (even tho it be in good humor). One example of a character Id like to see more black guys like is Henry from Eureka. I mean Henry from Eureka is one of the smartest and strongest (mentally and quality of character-wise) men in Eureka and everyone is always coming to him for answers and he is Carters best friend. Another black character I really like but who was short lived was Robert Hawkins he was smart, trustworthy, and a great man who not only put his own life and the lives of his family in danger to save Jericho, Jake Green, but the entire United States and the future of the free world.

Large good to be queen
Sep 3, 2009 12:01AM EDT

How can you possibly consider getting "way more girls" a positive, unstereotypical role model? If anything, if Shawn gets "way more girls", it shows that Shawn is flighty and unable to commit, or not worthy of maintaining a relationship with him. And isn't it the stereotypical "bad black boy", the gangsta mentality that promotes treating women like possessions to be used as sex objects and then discarded, rather than a mature man's position, regardless of skin colour, of being in a healthy relationship built on trust, love, and loyalty?
I agree in that it shouldn't be about the colour of someone's skin, or any other stereotypes of any sort. However, that's on the American viewers, to stop watching programmes stupid enough to perpetuate negative stereotypes. I just don't think Psych is one of them. Again, Gus is a successful and stable character, part of a nuclear family who are better parents to Shawn than his own divorced parents, a father who doesn't know how to relate to his son and a mother he hadn't seen or had contact with in, what, three years? The father was even scared to tell Shawn the mother was showing up. How stable is that?
In fact, seemingly the only flaw Gus demonstrates is complete loyalty to his friend, so much so that he often gets dragged into Shawn's schemes against his better judgment. If he was too perfect, he wouldn't be believable. I think they made a good balance in Gus' character.

Default avatar cat
Sep 3, 2009 3:06PM EDT

Now that you bring Shawn's parents into it I can see what your saying. I think Shawn might always being picking on Gus to deflect from his own insecurities AND it is his own personal way of showing affection toward Gus. After all it is how he and his dad (his only parent who was ever around) interact with one another. If you really look at it THEY did balance both of their characters pretty well. Thanks for opening my eyes to the whole picture, tvqueen, and not doing so in a rash or harsh manner and with an eloquent & logic standpoint. That goes to everyone who posted on this discussion! I think that this might be one of the very few times this taboo subject didn't start a massive shouting/sparring match. :P

Sep 4, 2009 2:44PM EDT

Shawn and Gus are like brothers. Shawn is insecure. Gus is very secure. The idea of a racial issue isn't even thought of. What Shawn says or does doesn't bother Gus at all. Since Gus is very smart, he knows exactly what he's getting into with Shawn. They enjoy doing things together. He**, they've been together all their lives.

Oct 13, 2011 1:51PM EDT

Okay, yes. Gus is the "sidekick" (heteorosexual life partner, more like) but that isn't at all a "bad thing" or "racist." He is an independent man with a steady job, income and a nice car. He is educated, intelligent, and opts for real relationships rather than one-night flings. And by golly gee, he's a total geek (a role typically reserved only for skinny white/Asian guys.) Psych break many, many racial conventions and stereotypes in media. Gus sometimes comes off as a "dufus" because Shawn is very, very good at manipulating people. If anything, the show is more apt to mock its white characters, which is not good..

Want to comment on this post? First, you must log in to your SideReel account!