When introducing your future spouse to your parents, the hope is that your parents will love and appreciate their future son or daughter in law as much as you do. But that is not always the case.
In the 1967 film, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, Joey Drayton (Katharine Houghton) and John Prentice (Sidney Poitier) are newly engaged. Joey is eager to introduce her parents to her future husband. The problem, especially for the late 60’s is that Joey is white and John is black. Joey’s parents, Christina and Matt Drayton (IRL lovers Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy) of course want to meet the man who their daughter is going to marry. Sparks may fly, as the “liberal” Mr. and Mrs. Drayton may not be as liberal as they appear to be.
In 2005, the film was made with the races of the characters reversed. Re-titled as Guess Who, it is now the African-American Theresa (Zoe Saldana) who bring home to meet her parents her white boyfriend, Simon (Ashton Kutcher). Theresa’s parents, Percy and Marilyn (Bernie Mac and Judith Scott), may appear open to their daughter’s significant other, but their reactions maybe more aligned with their 1967 counterparts than they are expected to be in the 21st century.
Both of these films present an interesting question. The question is if we have moved past letting race keep us apart. While I cannot answer that question with absolute certainty, both of these films, especially the 1967 original film have moved us closer to respecting and understanding those of a different race.
I recommend them.