‘Ello lads and lassies and welcome to another edition of “Views from abroad.” This week I am spilling the tea – hopefully not the actual hot tea I am drinking right now – on the issue of diversification of popular TV and Netflix series.
More often than not, when I flip on the TV or Netflix, the shows that are on revolve around a similar and far too familiar narrative.
There are only a handful of shows that I can name off the bat that features a full or almost completely diverse cast. Until recently, naming even one would have been almost impossible.
Those diverse TV series include: ABC’s “Black-ish” and its FreeForm spin-off “Grown-ish” which follow a black family, FX’s “Atlanta” which follows blacks in Atlanta, the CW’s “Jane the Virgin” and Netflix’s “One Day at a Time” which respectively follow a Venezuelan and Cuban family, ABC’s “Fresh Off the Boat” which follows a Taiwanese family, and NBC’s “I Feel Bad” which follows a bi-racial Indian family.
I find myself struggling to name more shows, although I am sure (and hope) that I am missing a few more. This is disappointing because these shows are so great and deserve all the attention they can get.
And, unfortunately, “Jane the Virgin’s” fifth and current season will be its last. In addition, Netflix recently canceled “One Day at a Time” following the premiere of their third season. Even though I recently stumbled upon the show, it particularly hit home for me because my grandpa – my Pipa – was born and raised in Cuba, so I was able to find parallels to my own family.
This feeling is one that everyone regardless of their skin color should be able to experience in a TV program.
Despite Netflix’s cue to cut the cord, many fans, including myself, took to Twitter with the #SaveODAAT in hopes that the show would receive the same fate as “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” which was dropped by its original network, Fox, and then later picked up by NBC. Even “Hamilton” star and creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, who is Puerto Rican, took to Twitter in support of #SaveODAAT (maybe he is our saving grace – I mean have you seen and heard “Hamilton?”).
The cancellation of “One Day at a Time” and “Jane the Virgin” now leaves the number of completely diverse – and specifically Hispanic – shows at an even lower number.
From my few months abroad in the United Kingdom, it appears their TV networks also struggle with diversity representation.
Just through a quick scroll of currently listed programs on ITV, Channel 4, and BBC iPlayer, I did not seem to find any more diverse shows compared to the US. In total, I found less than a handful of diverse shows. “Chewing Gum” on Channel 4 was the only program that stood out as having a diverse cast to me – please, please correct me if I am wrong or missed any.
Anyway, the low rate of diversity found in popular TV programs is appalling and not fair to all the beautiful and diverse people on this earth.
White people have never had a problem “seeing” themselves in any and all sorts of roles on TV. This is not the case for anyone of color who might find “themselves” as a side, stereotypical or even mock character – think Apu from “The Simpsons,” whose character often receives criticism.
TV networks, as well as streaming platforms, need to step up in their game in terms of cast diversity. I am tired of seeing the same old – and white – faces on my TV because they do not accurately depict the world we live in. Let us proudly embrace our diversity.
Cheers from Scotland!