Sunday, June 29, 2008

Diverse TV Follow-Up

I said I'd give my own favorite diverse TV shows at the end of my post on Why Is TV So White?

Just a note to clarify the population statistics: you will sometimes see stats that whites make up almost 80 percent of the U.S. population, but that's because being any race and "of Hispanic origin" is not counted separately. If you break it out, Hispanic or Latino makes up 14.4 percent. Black or African American, 12.8 percent; Asian, 4.3 percent; and so on according to this census chart. As the article on TV said, 1 in 3 Americans is now a minority, but TV is not even close to mirroring that. And then there's the issue of how the minorities are represented--if all the Arabs are terrorists, that's not really the diverse role models we were looking for...

You guys mentioned three shows I don't watch: The Unit, Grey's Anatomy, Dancing with the Stars. I do think a lot of the so-called reality shows are diverse (sometimes naturally, sometimes due to producers' manipulation? but hey, it's TV, it's not that real). I always love that American Idol gives us singers of all races and backgrounds, immigrant families, interracial families, you name it (although there has yet to be a black country western singer to make everyone's minds explode). I have to say I'm a sucker for any black girl rocking natural hair. Then they straighten it. Sigh.

I also agree with Heroes. Loved season one especially; love Hiro and Ando. Seen any other heroic Japanese main characters lately ever? However, there's a danger of stereotyping here (such as the nameless Haitian magical Negro), as sometimes observed in interesting episode recaps on the site Racialious.

Everybody Hates Chris--These are piling up on my TiVo because I never have time to watch, but I think the cast is superb and it works on the level of family sitcom (strong solid black family) while the setting/narration also lets Chris Rock give a little subtle commentary on black/white relations and cultural differences (in 1980's Brooklyn but tied into today). One the kids can watch fairly young.

Ugly Betty--What I like about the diversity here is that it is both incidental (characters whose race isn't important) and intentionally culturally specific (Betty's Mexican family traditions, etc.). Characters also represent differences in nationality, sexuality, class, and obviously values and ethical standards! And to go along with the point of the article, a show like this probably wouldn't have been possible, or the same anyway, without minority producers like Salma Hayek and Silvio Horta guiding it. (This one's sure beyond PG sometimes, though, so the kids will have to wait a while to watch, but "hasn't had a welcome mat since the nineties"?!--oh my word, it cracks me up!)

Any more we missed?


paige said...

I was going to include House as well. When new cast members were introduced last season, there was a pretty wide range of ethnicities, religions, sexual identities, etc. There are women in power too, which is always a plus. Ugly Betty is more diverse (and my personal fave) but House seems to be improving, although I've yet to see a woman of color hold any sort of real leadership role yet. Here's hoping for next season...

RMMcDowell said...

Indeed on House.

This isn't a TV show, per se, but I was struck watching Today on Sunday . . . On weekday mornings the main anchors are both white, the "substitute anchors" are pretty much all white, the weather guy is African American, and the news woman is Korean (I believe). On the weekend staff all of the main people, the news person, and (I think) the weather person are all African American. There was no other diversity at all. It was interesting to me.