Television, like other media, has a terrible diversity problem, and unfortunately, that means that the primary award for television, the Emmys, aren’t usually very diverse. We looked at this reality a few years ago when we released this infographic examining the diversity gap among Emmy Award winners: Continue reading
As we noted in our post last week, this year’s Emmy Awards weren’t as diverse as we hoped they might be. Still, the television medium has taken some big strides diversity-wise in the last few years and we’re looking forward to what’s ahead. Fall 2014’s TV season is about to start and there are some amazing diverse offerings on the horizon.
Grey’s Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes’s medical drama with one of the most diverse casts on network TV, returns for its eleventh season.
Elementary, starring Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu as a modern day Sherlock Holmes and Joan Watson, returns. We just love this show.
Sleepy Hollow normalizes POC (people of color) characters as leads in a fantasy-world setting, in which their race isn’t an “issue” but definitely a part of who they are as characters. It tackles historical issues like slavery head-on (for example, Ichabod’s reaction to Abbie being a cop), and it centers Abbie’s experience as the hero of this tale.
Ultimately, it’s epic and funny and fascinating—it tells a good story.
Scandal, Shonda Rhimes’s political thriller, returns with Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope, queen of the Perfect Pantsuit. Whether you love or hate this show, one thing’s for sure: it’s impossible to stop watching.
The Mindy Project, Mindy Kaling’s rom-com, is back for a third season, featuring a strong, smart Indian American woman front and center as its main character.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine: Andre Braugher earned an Emmy nomination for his role in this sitcom set in a Brooklyn Police Department, which has been praised by many for its truly diverse cast and nuanced representation.
Fresh off the Boat is the first sitcom starring Asian Americans since Margaret Cho’s All American Girl in 1994. There are 18.9 million Asian Americans in the US. It’s time to see some positive representation!
The Minority Report with Larry Wilmore will replace Comedy Central’s Colbert Report. Larry Wilmore, also known as the “Senior Black Correspondent” on The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, will be one of the first black comedians to anchor his own show in the coveted 11:30 pm spot.
Black-ish, starring Tracee Ellis Ross and Anthony Anderson, follows a middle-class African American family in a mostly-white neighborhood.
Selfie looks fun and funny, a fresh take on My Fair Lady, with a nicely diverse cast across the board.
Cristela, “in her sixth year at law school, is finally on the brink of landing her first big (unpaid) internship at a prestigious law firm. However, she’s a lot more ambitious than her traditional Mexican-American family thinks is appropriate.”
How to Get Away with Murder stars two-time Oscar nominee, Viola Davis, as “the brilliant, charismatic and seductive Professor Annalise Keating, who gets entangled with four law students from her class “How to Get Away with Murder.””
Jane the Virgin is a retelling of Venezuelan soap-opera Juana la Virgen staring Gina Rodriguez.
Survivor’s Remorse, produced by LeBron James, follows Cam Calloway, a young basketball prodigy who is thrust into the limelight after getting a multi-million dollar contract with a professional team in Atlanta.
Galavant is about a dashing hero, determined to reclaim his reputation and his “happily ever after” from the evil King Richard. Karen David stars as Isabella. It’s unclear from the previews what role Isabella will ultimately play overall, but Karen David is the top-billed woman in the cast, so we have hopes her character will be important!
Gotham, WB’s new origin story on Batman and several villains, will have Jada Pinkett Smith in the role of Fish Mooney. Zabryna Guevara will star in the role of Sarah Essen.
Have we missed any? Let us know in the comments what diverse shows you’re looking forward to this fall!
This is a post by our literacy and sales assistant, Veronica Schneider.
It was no major surprise who the big winners were on Monday evening’s 66th Primetime Emmy Awards, with Breaking Bad totaling five awards and Modern Family winning Best Comedy Series for the fifth consecutive year.
More importantly, the 2014 Emmy Awards really shocked us all by showing how progressive and diversified television has become.
We need to look beyond the fashionable red carpet looks and the Hollywood glam and instead discuss what is plainly missing: diversity. Diverse television may pull in viewers with hit shows like Sleepy Hollow, Orange is the New Black, and Scandal, but it isn’t necessarily being rewarded. In an interview with KCPP Radio,Darell Hunt, Director of UCLA’s Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies, said, “So far we haven’t seen a translation where the awards program reflects the increasing variety of things that are actually being made for the small screen.”
Shana Mlawski is a native New Yorker who writes educational materials and tutors middle and high school students. She has written more than a hundred articles for the pop culture website OverthinkingIt.com, some of which have been featured in The Atlantic Monthly, The Guardian, The Huffington Post, and Ms. magazine. Her first novel, Hammer of Witches, was published by Tu Books in 2012.
Bring up FOX’s Sleepy Hollow and you’ll probably get one of two reactions. The first is, “OMG, guys: black people! On network television! And there’s a Hispanic guy! And John Cho! It’s almost like TV has finally entered the twenty-first century.”
The second, more common reaction goes thusly: “Wow. This show is COMPLETELY RIDICULOUS.”
Both reactions work for me. Sleepy Hollow does have an impressively diverse cast: of the eight major characters in its lineup, five are people of color (POC). More importantly, the main character is a woman of color.
As for the claim of ridiculousness… well, watch this:
What’s most interesting to me is how the two reactions intersect. That Sleepy Hollow is racially diverse doesn’t make it unique. Want a show that isn’t all white people all the time? You can watch Scandal or Elementary. But Sleepy Hollow is something different, something rarely seen on mainstream television: a program with a non-white lead that is also a work of camp.
In her famous “Notes on Camp,” Susan Sontag defined the genre as “art that proposes itself seriously, but cannot be taken altogether seriously because it is ‘too much.’” Not a bad definition for a show that features a Headless Horseman carrying a machine gun. Sleepy Hollow takes itself seriously enough that it can quote Milton and Edmund Burke with a straight face, but its heroes also exclaim things like, “The answers are in George Washington’s Bible!” It may not be John Waters, but that sounds campy to me.