HomeOP-EDDoes TV Capture the Diversity of America?

Does TV Capture the Diversity of America?

Think about a recent television show or movie and its characters. What do you notice? An LGBTQ+ character? An African-American character? A handicapped or disabled character? Television series and movies today make it a priority to check all the boxes to ensure every class is included. With a rise in cancelations and boycotts, companies are looking for plots with diverse casts. However, it has not always been like this. In the last decade, diversity has increased within the media.

According to variety.com, “Per Nielsen data for the 2021 TV season, among the top 1,500 programs, 78% have some presence of racial, ethnic, gender, or sexual orientation inclusivity.” The most popular series right now include a character from almost every diverse group. For example, the Netflix program, Stranger Things. In it, the cast is comprised of Robin who is homosexual, Lucas who is African American and Kali who is Indian. Another example on Netflix is the program, Never Have I Ever. It stars Indian families, African American characters, Asian characters, homosexual characters, etc.

Diversity is not only showing up in the media when it comes to young adults and the older generation, it also is becoming widespread in adolescent television. For instance, The Proud Family reboot features new characters including LGBTQ+ characters and those of different races. Other programs geared toward an adolescent audience with similar characteristics are The Legend of Korra, Blue’s Clues & You, Arthur, Adventure Time, Andi Mack, Doc McStuffins, etc.

According to abcnews.go.com, “Across streaming, cable and broadcast platforms, viewership among adults age 18 to 49 peaked in many cases when a show had a “majority-minority cast.” Looking back at older popular television shows, there were typically one or two diverse characters that popped up now and again on Friends, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Golden Girls, The Cosby Show, etc. However, at this point diversity is a force exceedingly everywhere you look. In my perspective, this brews from the popularity of public discrimination such as The Black Lives Matter movement, LGBTQ+ movement and the Asian American Pacific Islander movement. These events caused worldwide disruption, hatred and complications. As a result, the media attempts to include minorities to show they are “welcomed and accepted.”

Overall, the media is continuing to make shows as diverse as possible to avoid any backlash or boycotts. They are creating roles desired by viewers who write their paychecks and keeps their company afloat. Considering that the desire for diversity has only increased, I do not see television having a limited cast any time soon. You should anticipate more of your favorite movies and TV shows having characters from many different backgrounds.

Kayla Vaughn
Kayla Vaughn
Kayla Vaughn is a Sophomore from Memphis, Tennessee majoring in Criminal Justice. She will be a contributor for The Campus Chronicle for the 2022-2023 academic year.


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