Television Drags Its Feet on Diversity

David Wiegand, San Francisco Chronicle, June 19, 2012

Cedric the Entertainer and Niecy Nash star in a new, nicely assembled and almost old-fashioned sitcom about a former R&B singer who becomes a preacher in middle age.

But what might occur to you as “The Soul Man” premieres on TV Land on Wednesday is that this is 2012, the president is African American, the society is becoming more post-racial with every passing year, yet here’s a show that doesn’t look like many others on TV. Why? Because there is an anachronistic scarcity of series with either African American lead characters or mostly African American casts on television today. Feel free to substitute “Latino” or “Asian American” in that sentence as well.

The television industry has been sticking its toe in the diversity water for decades, and some progress has been made. Is there, for example, some rule in the industry that every time you create an ensemble program, one member of the cast should be black, Latino or Asian? Double points for one of each.


Other mostly white-cast shows, including “Hot in Cleveland,” “How I Met Your Mother,” “Two and a Half Men,” “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, “Justified,” “Girls,” “Raising Hope” and “Veep,” may have people of color as guest stars (Kal Penn played Robin’s love interest for a while on “Mother”) or in supporting roles, but there’s always room for more if the goal is, as it should be, for casts to better reflect the ethnic variety of the potential TV audience.

So, bit by bit, television has inched toward a concept of diversity in casting that reflects the country’s population.

Good for us.

Except that against a dearth of shows actually starring actors of color, the presence of so many others in guest or supporting roles, or as members of ensemble casts, amounts to 21st century tokenism: Put an African American in the ensemble, and call it progress. Hire an Asian to guest-star as a shrink, and call it diversity.

No one has to push “How I Met Your Mother” under the bus to make room for minority actors or casts: You just have to see the talent, the audience appeal and put them on the payroll. What matters is whether the show clicks with the viewers, and we should be long past the point where the ethnicity of the cast is a factor in that.


And it’s not even about TV being all that courageous about diversity because, in truth, that opportunity is long past. Now it’s a matter of playing catch-up, and television networks have a lot to lose by not getting aggressively in the game.


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  • The__Bobster

    It seemed that every sitcom last season had a happy Hindu hitting on the White women ….. and succeeding.

    Do we now have to put up with merry moolies doing the same? Oh, yeah, it already happened in “Grimm”.

  • post-racial is a codeword for post-white, and therefore genocide.

    Anti-whites need to stop the envy and realize–white people have a right to exist, on their own terms, independently and by themselves.

    That is freedom—– and NO you are NOT invited.

  • MekongDelta69

    Why bother with a long treatise, when you know what every leftist has ever said is exactly 180 degrees from the truth.

  • I’ve given up watching television, I just watch old movies on dvd or read books.

  • So Mr. Big Time San Francisco Chronicle writer, do tell, why did the George Lucas’ spectacle “Red Tails” flop so horrendously?   I mean the cast was as diverse as you could possible get right? 

    Not enough DIEversity on TV?  Is this guy smoking crack or something? 

  • Lack of diversity on TV? I agree! At least in regard to televised professional sports. How many White players are you likely to see in the average NBA game? That’s right — one or none. Almost as bad in NFL games, and of course college basketball is almost totally lost. Seems to me like all that makes up for the lack of “people of color” in the entertainment shows, and then some.

  • I guess he is hoping to see a transvestite horse lover of color as a main character in prime time TV. Thats about the only thing that isnt shown.

  • Is this the kind of diversity they want on television ?

  • Detroit_WASP

    They need to make a TV show about an all white NBA team who wins the championship.  I wonder how many liberals would be up in arms ???

    • The__Bobster

      When I want to see that, I just watch the Olympics. Moolies have a hard time winning when they aren’t allowed to openly travel and foul, and have to play team basketball.

  • The only question I have for every white man or woman, is:  Why are you still watching TV?

    Our enemies have managed to hijack a white invention and turn it against us.  No different than taking a gun away from a cop and using it on him.

    If racialist white could get rid of their TVs and spend more time with their children, reading, exercising, or simply just THINKING . . . we, as a race, would see an immediate payback.

    TV-HATING Chimpmaster

    • ACE2X

      I agree completely. When blacks are shown mis-typed, I flee.
      Preposterous backyard BBQ or mixed-race picnics are too absurd for me. My remote control gets a workout. Most of the time I turn the TV off in frustration.

    • I can’t watch TV anymore, or see a movie. I feel like every character is spitting on the white man. All this black-man/white-female crap is disgusting as well. I notice it in the past, but in the last few years it’s like every commercial or show is built around degrading whitey.

  • Vildan

    There is way too much dieversity on TV. Dora the Explorer for example and I think she´s getting a new muslim friend… Doda, the Exploder… That will teach the kids properly.

  • JackKrak

    Looks like they’re burning a bit too much incense in the SF Chronicle’s offices again, or the all the lava lamps and blacklight posters are distracting the, um, “writers” and making it too hard to think.

    Or maybe he didn’t have time to do the proper research for the article because he had to finish before this week’s mandatory office seminar on male privilege and racism started?

    Hard to say. Just another example of how nothing originating in SF has any relationship to the reality that the rest of us know all too well.

  • Sloppo

    I disagree with this article.  My favorite show is “America’s Most Wanted” and I’ve noticed that minorities are usually very well represented in the cast.  Another of my favorite shows is “Gangland”.  Many of that show’s episodes feature 100% diversity (no white people) and I think it’s excellent program to watch because it can help us to raise our “cultural IQ”.   

  • Alucard

    All we see on television are well behaved, morally sound blacks.  Note that if a commercial is negative (feminine itch, diarrhea, hemorrhoids, buffoonery, etc.) they are always white.  Another thing:  take note to the complete absents of Hispanics and Asians.  Muslims are another group that is enshrined in the hall of wonders while Christians are seen as lunatics.

  • JohnEngelman

    I would like to see a realistic family drama on television about a decent, law abiding white family living in or near a black neighborhood, and too poor to move. From time to time someone would talk about what the neighborhood had been like when it had been a white working class neighborhood, and people could go out after dark.  The white family would have some black friends, but no illusions. It would not be a situation comedy, but a situation tragedy.    

    • Sloppo

      It sounds like it would be a reality show.  

  • The__Bobster

     Blacks watch far more TV than Whites, but it doesn’t translate to actual sales….unless you count stupid things like $200 sneakers.

  • If you’re still wasting time watching television, try this experiment: Get a pad of paper and a pen.  During your normal viewing, make a check mark on the paper every time you see a non-white man paired up with a White woman. Make sure you include the commercials in your count.

    Then tell this idiot how there’s more than enough diversity on TV, and then cancel your subscription.

  • Hell with Diversity. We,Whites, have the Divine Right to  remain Whites forever and to associate only with those who enhance our survival as a distinct people. This “Diversity-Race-Mixing Experiment” has been imposed upon us by White Traitors in Congress. We totally reject it and hold those responsible for our demise accountable.

  • Whiteman

    If the author needs to be upset about a lack of diversity in TV programming why isn’t he upset about the lack of whites or asians or hispanics on this ‘nicely assembled’ show about a former RnB singer he talks about? Why doesn’t BET, or the television shows, broadcast in every very large city, devoted to Koreans, all spoken in Korean, etc, upset him?