entertainment

TV looks more like U.S. and viewers like it, diversity study says

29 Comments
By LYNN ELBER

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29 Comments
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This is nonsense.

People, in general, like to be entertained. I don't know anyone who tracks and calculates the racial, ethnicity and gender ratios of characters in a show before watching it.

10 ( +19 / -9 )

This is nonsense.

Is it really?

I don't know anyone who tracks and calculates the racial, ethnicity and gender ratios of characters in a show before watching it.

Isn't this somewhat a bad faith way of arguing - inventing a position from your own imagination and them arguing against your own imagined position.

With words like "track", "ratio" and "calculate" on one hand and "this is nonsense" of the other, you seem to be trying to create a two pole reality, suggesting there are two, and only two, options:

on one hand we sit there with a calculator and a spreadsheet rigorously checking the ethnicity of everyone on screen before deciding what show to watch, rejecting something we might otherwise like if the quota does not add up

on the other hand, continue as we were.

The problem, though, is that "continuing as we were" involves pretending that non-white people are not really part of society and do not deserve not be in our shows and stories, except as decoration around the edges. This was the situation for a number of decades, as you maybe remember.

So let's be honest - neither of the above options is a good or realistic idea now, is it?

Perhaps there is another way.

Maybe we could remember that race and ethnicity is not the most important thing about a person, and maybe we could not obsessively track race, demanding everything needs to be quoted and divided out between groups to the nearest zero-point-one percent... but at the same time, maybe we could remember that you cannot simply expect to systematically excludes large proportions of a nation's resident population from that nation's cultural life and expect those people to just sit there and not say anything about it. So something needs to change, and that is the change we are starting to see.

It would seem clear to most thinking people that we need a way to give everyone, regardless of what they look like, an equal opportunity to showcase their talents. At the same time we need to do this without obsessing over those differences at every turn, getting offended where the other person means no malice, and making everything about race all the time, to the exclusion of other topics.

So there is a balance to be struck. It requires us to act in good faith and trust each other.

-7 ( +7 / -14 )

I have zero interest in American TV shows and I'm from there LoL. Is this article even of interest here in Japan? Movies yes I could see the interest but US TV, not really a thing here I feel.

10 ( +16 / -6 )

I'm all for diversity but don't overdo it and be part of the "woke" brigade

6 ( +14 / -8 )

The negative "oh, my god, there are more black people on our screens" reaction that comes through from the voting patterns on the comments under this article is pretty good evidence that 1) there is a representation problem 2) some people, for reasons best known to themselves, get very shirty when anyone tries to take action to address it.

-10 ( +4 / -14 )

The problem, though, is that "continuing as we were" involves pretending that non-white people are not really part of society and do not deserve not be in our shows and stories, except as decoration around the edges.

I don't know a single person who thinks or acts like you're trying to portray.

... you cannot simply expect to systematically excludes large proportions of a nation's resident population from that nation's cultural life ...

I don't see anyone being excluded in US society. Did you read the article?

It would seem clear to most thinking people that we need a way to give everyone, regardless of what they look like, an equal opportunity to showcase their talents.

People do have an equal opportunity. If you want things to look more like America, how about White people have more representation to reflect the correct ratio that 75% of Americans identify as White (Just in case, being hispanic is ethnicity not race and 95% self identified as White in the 2020 census).

Be careful what you ask for.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

While actors of color also came close to “proportionate representation” in cable and streaming, most of the gains could be attributed to the increasing share of Black and multiracial roles . . . Asian Americans — the country's fastest-growing group — and Latinos remain underrepresented, while Native Americans are “virtually invisible,” the report said.

Contrast, what CBS, a major U.S. broadcaster, said about the same report:

Although minority representation in the television industry is improving, the Latinx community is still severely underrepresented, according to a new diversity report. The study, which was published by UCLA on Tuesday, looked at 461 scripted cable, broadcast and digital television shows from 2019 and 2020 . . . "Even as people of color collectively make progress in front of the camera, specific racial/ethnic groups such as Latinx, Asian, and Native persons continue to be severely underrepresented among television leads and among other top roles."

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/latinx-actors-writers-underrepresented-in-television-ucla-diversity-report-finds/

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Simply put, people have a tendency to accept and become what is reflected upon them.

Also I wish the title of this article was amended to “American TV looks like U.S.” as that is much more fitting of the study and it’s audience.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

TV in the US is mostly terrible. The industry is only copying the Brits when it comes to over representing the mix of humans. It’s rather funny checking out British TV waiting for the interaicial and gay characters to show up, and it’s not a matter of if but when.

Im not surprised by the social sciences results of “their” findings, it’s not science anyway.

-6 ( +4 / -10 )

Eaugh US TV is trash

3 ( +7 / -4 )

Peter Neil writes

People, in general, like to be entertained. I don't know anyone who tracks and calculates the racial, ethnicity and gender ratios of characters in a show before watching it.

I do, all of my friends and family members and acquaintance's do and even most of my white and non-minority friends do. Even the polls show the same thing. I never watched Friends or Seinfeld because of the lack of any diversity. So you are speaking for yourself. My only peeve is that network TV is so sorry but the streaming services like Netflix, Prime, Hulu et cetera are what I mostly watch.

-5 ( +4 / -9 )

Diversity in and of itself is not necessarily a problem. Diversity for the sake of diversity most definitely is.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

...so... Affirmative Action?

2 ( +4 / -2 )

We watch American TV programs and movies. But we also watch many TV programs and movies from New Zealand, Australia, Europe, Britain, Ireland, Canada.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

@DrTOM1957

 I never watched Friends or Seinfeld because of the lack of any diversity. 

That is so dumb. You only allow yourself to be entertained by things that check off a diversity list in your head? Have you ever watched a Japanese TV show or movie where the entire cast is likely to be 100% Japanese?

7 ( +11 / -4 )

 I never watched Friends or Seinfeld because of the lack of any diversity.

I'm sorry to read such racism. I hope some day you'll be able to appreciate people for their talent and not by the color of their skin.

7 ( +12 / -5 )

UK TV looks the same as the US, overrepresentation of blacks and underrepresentation of Indians. Of course, surely these should be more Indians and Asians in productions that are viewed globally, or programming that is sold globally through Netflix/Amazon/Disney?

0 ( +3 / -3 )

If you use a VPN and watch one of the shows on CBS, NBC etc., and you get commercials, you will see very few so called white people. Most of the commercials are filled with so called people of color. I think it is a way to build up the new quota system in so called entertainment.

And I wished they used the scientific term for skin color.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

they've way over done things, but I don't live there and rarely watch it, so who cares

2 ( +4 / -2 )

 I don't know anyone who tracks and calculates the racial, ethnicity and gender ratios of characters in a show before watching it.

Americans. Say no more.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Don't watch TV but good.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Does the National Geographic channel show Car S.O.S. In the States?

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

I have zero interest in American TV shows and I'm from there LoL. Is this article even of interest here in Japan?

Well, this is the world section and yes, American shows are popular, nothing I would really care to watch unless it's on HBO or Showtime, bigger budget shows, the NCIS shows you can keep, wife and all of her friends love it, don't understand the allure, so understand you're feeling on that part.

Movies yes I could see the interest but US TV, not really a thing here I feel.

I agree. 

Americans. Say no more.

Not just America, other countries as well, just a bit more subtle about it.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

"Diversity" is secret-squirrel-code for non-white in the US.

The USgovt tracks race for good and bad reasons. As with most data, it can be used for good and bad reasons.

Canada doesn't track race, so they don't have statistics about those things. That's good and bad, because Canada doesn't know, with facts, about race issues that exist.

I like seeing minorities in roles of authority (DRs, lawyers, cops, CEOs). That reflects real life around here. 36% of Americans aren't white. In 20 more years, less than 50% will be white just from demographics. There are many different "cultures" in the US. National origin, religion, region within the US, and economic level usually determine the culture in any household. We are more alike than different, but there are some wide differences between the multiple cultures. Mixed households merging the different cultures happens too, which can lead to interesting results. The different holidays display those differences, even within extended families. Christmas holidays can be 100% religious events - no exchange of gifts at all or they can include all the commercial stuff that Hollywood tends to show. Lots of TV shows will have "black Friday" in their plots, just like many will have Halloween plots this week.

There are 2 new shows this fall with nearly the entire cast being minorities that we've watched. We give any show 3 episodes before deciding to keep watching. One of those shows was terrible (we were drawn in by some of the lead actors) and decided not to keep watching. The other one caught our attention and kept it. It is a remake, but neither my wife nor I saw the original 30 yrs ago. A great story is always appreciated.

When will 60% of the actors be obese? That group is vastly under-represented on TV. /s

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

More virtually signaling from the Hollywood crowd. They should focus on good content as that has been lacking for decades.

But TV commercials are the worst as they couple various husband and wife combinations you would never see in real life.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

The UK is not numerically representative, at least in the adverts.

UK: 80% white; 6.8% Indo-Asian; 3.4% black. [Institute of race relations.] Another source has 86% 'white groups'(?!).

UK TV adverts: About 50% black. At least they are trying to even things up I guess. The quiz shows tend to have a notable proportion of same sex couples, but I don't know what the real stats are on that. It's good in that it helps to normalise diversity for people who live in bubbles, but they do tend to overdo these things. When BLM first trended, the advertisers all jumped on the bandwagon and it was like watching Jamaican TV for a few months. It was hilarious.

Not really bothered either way as I don't watch much TV any more beyond sport. Boris's Broadcasting Corporation has lost my trust and most of the dramas on all channels, UK or US, are hideous.

It's sad that BBC adaptations of classic novels have been trashed, Mao style. They were good, but too many white faces in Jane Austen etc, so they either mess around with them, which offends me as an author, or don't do them. They are worth getting on DVD. The BBC's back catalogue on DVD is better than its current output by some margin.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

It's sad that BBC adaptations of classic novels have been trashed, Mao style

This makes no sense. What do you mean?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

theFuOct. 28  12:27 am JST

"Diversity" is secret-squirrel-code for non-white in the US.

The USgovt tracks race for good and bad reasons. As with most data, it can be used for good and bad reasons.

Canada doesn't track race, so they don't have statistics about those things. That's good and bad, because Canada doesn't know, with facts, about race issues that exist.

Oh yes it does. They have immigrants from Middle East, Africa, Caribbean, East Asia and India. And there's been Black Canadians there for centuries.

I like seeing minorities in roles of authority (DRs, lawyers, cops, CEOs). That reflects real life around here. 36% of Americans aren't white. In 20 more years, less than 50% will be white just from demographics. There are many different "cultures" in the US. National origin, religion, region within the US, and economic level usually determine the culture in any household. We are more alike than different, but there are some wide differences between the multiple cultures.

Happy DayOct. 28  01:46 am JST

More virtually signaling from the Hollywood crowd. They should focus on good content as that has been lacking for decades.

But TV commercials are the worst as they couple various husband and wife combinations you would never see in real life.

They want you to believe that racism and homophobia doesn't exist. But it does. Many TV ads show interracial couples and I can tell there's a lot of sassymouth bigots who openly oppose that. And gay couples? Even worse.

Back in the 70s shows like 'All In the Family', 'Jeffersons' and 'Sanford and Son', etc. were good funny shows designed to explicitly show how stupid all bigotry and hate is. Problem is, too many people in America are just lunkheads, too stupid to 'get it'. And now the TV shows are formulaic constructs without any of the satirical edge. They place in token actors, have stale plots and no humor at all. American TV today just plain sucks, no matter who or what is on it. It SUCKS.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Oh yes it does. They have immigrants from Middle East, Africa, Caribbean, East Asia and India. And there's been Black Canadians there for centuries.

What? Try to find criminal reports with race breakouts in Canada. You cannot. They don't track it. I wasn't saying that Canada wasn't diverse (secret squirrel code), just that the Canadian govt doesn't split out race tracking for most things.

Happy Day - there are mixed race couples in the real world of the US. You'd be surprised. Humans can deeply love other humans who don't look like themselves. There are even some homosexual and heterosexual mixed couples too - crazy - but people stay in marriages for many different reasons.

There are some good network TV shows in the US and usually more great TV shows on streaming services. If you haven't found any, perhaps you haven't looked or just have very restrictive tastes. I'm looking forward to the last season of The Expanse even though I've already read all the books. There are better things to do than watch TV, almost always, so don't feel like you have to watch.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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