Race on TV: Why are reality shows more diverse than scripted series?
The Los Angeles Times has an article today about how network reality shows are doing a better job of representing minorities on TV than scripted prime-time series. I agree. From the current seasons of CBS’ The Amazing Race and NBC’s The Biggest Loser to ABC’s Dancing With the Stars and Fox’s Hell’s Kitchen, it seems the producers of those shows have finally figured out what the creators MTV’s The Real World have known for years — adding people of color to the mix not only helps fuel conflict and drama, but it also pulls in a wider range of viewers.
So why are scripted shows slow to do the same? It’s hard to say. Last June, my colleague Jennifer Armstrong and I explored this issue in a story we cowrote for EW called “Diversity in Entertainment: Why Is TV So White?” That same month, the NAACP released a study titled “Out of Focus, Out of Sync — Take 4,” calling for diversity both on screen and behind the scenes. Eight months later, not much has changed — scripted prime-time shows on network television remain anchored by predominantly white lead characters, even while Will Smith dominates box offices and Barack Obama makes history as the nation’s first African-American president.
What do you think, PopWatchers? Does the problem stem from a lack of diverse talent or a lack of imaginative thinking behind the scenes?