ConStar Clicks

100 things to do before high school nickelodeon diversity

100 Things to Do Before High School Look at that beautiful kidsitcom diversity!

♣ Confession: I have another blog — that needs resurrecting — called Childish Things. Based on a C.S. Lewis quote, it’s about ridding yourself of the fear of so-called “childish things.” For a long time, I hid my interest in cartoons or refused to read children’s/YA lit because I thought I wasn’t supposed to. So I created a blog to discuss that. It’s been dormant for a while, but posts like this one in the NY Times make me want to bring it back. It discusses the changing Nickelodeon live action format and from what it sounds like, I’d love to be apart of that new wave of children’s television. I want more sophisticated programming for kids — for kids like me who read books all the time or watched grown up TV with their parents/guardians. The two programs mentioned most, Bella and the Bulldogs and 100 Things to Do Before High School, sounds really interesting — shows I definitely want to check out. And they’re also presenting diverse stories for people of color and children who don’t conform to gender stereotypes. Nickelodeon used to be the place to go to alternative kids programming, especially in the 90s, hopefully they are returning to that lack of formula. Maybe you’ll see something about this on that other blog I’ve got.

♣ Confidence is a big issue with me. I am not one of those people who wants attention and proudly proclaims their accomplishments. I am trying, social media helps make it a bit easier (shameless plugs abound in the #Clicks), but I’ve still got a long way to go. This piece in Script Magazine tells me what I already know, I’ve got to stop using the word “aspiring.” I’ve removed it from certain social media profile descriptions and am trying to keep it out of my personal vocabulary. It helps that I’ve been writing more, opening Final Draft more. But I still need to work on my writing mindset. These words from the article help:

Stop aspiring.

I mean it. If you’ve developed the habit of referring to yourself as an “aspiring writer,” cut it out. Do yourself a huge favor and take the word “aspiring” out of your vocabulary. It’s not helping you. In fact, it might even be hurting you.

Why? Because you’re not an aspiring writer. You’re a writer, period. Full stop. End of sentence.

It doesn’t matter if you haven’t sold a script or been staffed yet. To the contrary, that’s the very reason why you shouldn’t call yourself “aspiring.” Just as you wouldn’t welcome an “aspiring plumber” into your home to tear up your pipes, or trust an “aspiring doctor” to operate on you, why would anyone want to hire an “aspiring” writer? And the simple answer is, they don’t. People just hire writers. Start branding yourself as simply a writer, and it’ll have a direct impact on how you’re perceived by the people you meet.

So if you struggle with the word “aspiring,” click through and maybe Eric Haywood’s words will inspire you too.

♣ Speaking of writing, a reminder for me as a writer (also doubles as my weekly Jane the Virgin reference)

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” lang=”en”>

As long as characters want different things, there is conflict, there is story. #JaneTheVirgin #TCA15

— Danielle Turchiano (@danielletbd) January 13, 2015

♣ Fresh of the Boat’s publicity tour is making me so nervous. Check out the awkward panels that have happened since they’ve started doing press. I hope the show does well and provides more opportunities for Asian actors, but this doesn’t feel like a great start. Conversely, drama provides interest and clicks — maybe its a way to get more publicity so people tune in? Entertainment Weekly and Audrey Magazine each have pieces on the drama.

♣ @xcerteras on Twitter has a list of sci-fi/fantasy shows that need to step up their diversity game. If you love charts,click through:

♣ Lastly, have you been watching The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore? I think it’s been knocking it out of the park in this, its first week. Already he’s covered things that other shows refuse to cover, like protests, Cosby, Cuba, and this week’s State of the Union. He’s had diverse panelists (like, real diversity, not blonde/blonde/brunette diversity), but also hasn’t been afraid to have a guest with a contrary opinion to the rest of the group.  It’s been great and I’m excited to get to see it live next week! The Writers Guild of America shared this article on Wilmore, exploring his past screenwriting accomplishments, including a show called The PJs, which was going to be the title of a project I’m working on, until I found out someone used it already.

Note the part where Wilmore writes that the acting style will be naturalistic, and the show will be shot in cinéma vérité style. Almost like a documentary. Hmmm… is there another show like that? One that began production after BERNIE MAC had been on the air for four seasons? And that eventually procured Wilmore as a writer?

Hmm, this, like the Living Single/Friends thing (look it up), is so very interesting in the ways black television does something first, but something more.. ahem, “mainstream”… later codifies the tropes and becomes the household name for the formatting innovation. Anyway, check out The Nightly Show and click the link to see some pages from his scripts.

♣ Oh wait! Last night, I wrote my first post on Buzzfeed! Check it out, I posit names for Ben and Leslie’s children on Parks and Recreation. Because we all know Leslie would totally want to name her kids Harry, Ron, and Hermione.

♣ And finally, this time for real, for real:

So if you haven’t already, now’s the time to go ahead and make that resolution. Resolve to stop aspiring. Take that dirty word out of your everyday conversation once and for all, and by all means, please take it out of your Twitter bio – yes, YOU. You know who you are. — Eric Haywood.

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ConStar Clicks

gina rodriguez golden globes speech

Preach it, Gina!

Award season is here and after last Sunday’s Golden Globes and this week’s Oscar nominations, a lot of the articles going around have to do with the severe lack of diversity in Hollywood. Here are just a few (from before Oscar noms were announced — they didn’t change the conversation much anyway) articles on the diversity deficit.

This USA Today article talks a lot about the lack of diversity in Into the Woods and other fictional pieces, but also delves into the excuses made when diverse actors aren’t considered for roles and how even with a PoC director on a film or showrunner on a TV show, it’s still hard to achieve the diversity needed to match the actual demographics of this country.

♠ Here’s an interview with Selma cinematographer Bradford Young in the Huffington Post on how the lack of diversity in the industry spreads beyond even the top roles we normally think about, the above the line players (actors, producers, directors, etc). Here he points out that the lack of diversity exists below the line too — he’s speaking primarily as a cinematographer, but it counts for editing and sound design and costumes and all the rest of the crew. Most of the Selma crew was not people of color. Hollywood sets and Hollywood Academy voters, neither represent the diversity of America.

♠But it’s not all bleak, the Golden Globes honored my most recent fave Gina Rodriguez with a best actress in a comedy win — I literally screamed when they said her name. Her speech was amazing (see top photo and the one below for quotes).

gina rodgriguez i can and i will

Gina is full of inspiring quotes! Click the photo for the full video.

If only other people in power were more like those at CBS/CW and Jane showrunner Jennie Urman who took a chance on Jane. See what it gets you? A new hit show and award nominations! The CW is on the map now, all because they went with a person of color. Others networks could benefit from the same choice.

♠ Shameless self promotion of the week: After the Globes, I felt my post on New Emmy Categories was especially relevant. Let’s be honest, there were some weird category combinations — shows like Jane the Virgin, Orange is the New Black, and Transparent all in the comedy category? Jane is pretty funny, OITNB has some humor, but I’ve never, ever gotten the impression that Transparent was a comedy/musical. (Chelsea Peretti tweeted something about how even comedy and musical aren’t even similar — though it was in true Chelsea Peretti fashion) Ads always lean towards serious. And these shows submit for comedy categories because the drama categories are over-saturated and straight comedies have no room! All of this would be resolved with a Dramedy category. More shows get more recognition. No? We don’t want that?

I love this article on Hitfix on how it’s a Golden Era for geeky TV shows because I watch a lot of these shows. As I explained last week when I talked about the “mid-reputable” TV shows article, a lot of the shows I watch tend to be sci-fi/fantasy/mystery (most of whom are never Emmy/Golden Globe contenders), so it’s great that there are more and more “mid-reputable” shows that happen to be SFF/mystery on network television. If I have to deal with a continuing lack of diversity, at least part of my geek soul is being fulfilled.

♠ In that same vein, here’s an article in Ad Week about The Flash and the other DC Comics shows on The CW (and mentions of Supergirl coming to CBS) and the way they are bringing life to television. The article goes through a bit of Marvel vs DC in terms of their known strengths: Marvel excels at movies, while DC excels at TV. This, to me, has always been true. I don’t know a lot about the comics themselves, but each creator has shown their live-action/animated strengths known since the 90s. Marvel had massive success with the Blade movies, the Spiderman movies, even the X-Men movies even before the current MCU revitalized the superhero blockbuster. In the TV-verse, DC was always better: besides the X-Men cartoon series, Marvel didn’t really have any standout cartoons in the 90s; compare to the different Batman and the Justice League cartoons and their incarnations. In live-action, I was always partial to Lois and Clark, the New Adventures of Superman, whose 90s cheese was absolutely perfect the era. And of course there was Smallville. It’s great that each company, Marvel and DC, are succeeding somewhere specifically. It just means everyone has somewhere to go to get their superhero fix.

And for a random take away from that same article: “Under Time Warner, DC is tied to a broadcaster (the CW), cable networks (Adult Swim, Cartoon, TBS, TNT) and, of course, the movie studio.” Just a random fact for when thinking of your favorite DC comics and what networks you could match them with (don’t forget CBS, as they own The CW). Remember, of course, that Marvel is owned by Disney, so when mentally pitching Marvel TV shows, stick to Disney owned nets (though now there’s Netflix getting in on the Marvel game).

♠ Finally, how do I combine the two main themes above, diversity and geekdom? Easy, with this article by Daniel Jose Older in The Guardian on the lack of people of color in fantasy fiction. “And while “urban” has become publishing industry code for books by and for black people, throw the word fantasy on the end and suddenly the characters and authors are very white.” The work of achieving diversity is still being labored at in all media.

Oof, these Clicks are long. Should they be shorter?

ConStar Clicks

Playhouse 90 TV Anthology

As a media studies major, one of the first things I learned in my television history class was that it started out as being simply televised plays* EDIT: or televised radio shows. TV scripts are called “teleplays” for a reason. A lot of early series are presented as one-act plays for the small screen, lots of anthology shows, where each episode was a different story. Philco Television Playhouse Teleplay AnthologyThe most famous, perhaps, might be The Twilight Zone or Alfred Hitchcock Presents, both featuring mysterious, science-fiction, and horror/thriller type stories, but others were more explicit in their titles like Playhouse 90 (90 minute teleplays) and the Philco Television Playhouse. Both media are heavily focused on dialogue and character, with plot being often secondary. This article in The Atlantic on the trend of playwrights also writing for television and vice versa doesn’t talk as much about the history of early television plays as much as I would like, but it’s interesting the way things cycle back around.

 It’s been a minor struggle all of my life that the shows that I like don’t get major award recognition. This article over at the AV Club finally talks about this struggle. I watch “mid-reputable” television. I’m usually not interested in the prestige shows. The Mad Mens or the Homelands or the Boardwalk Empires. I gave Breaking Bad a shot, but I wasn’t as into it as everyone else. Recently, The Wire had a marathon on HBO, and I just didn’t feel like starting it. But the shows listed in this article: Sleepy Hollow (once I catch up and the show redeems itself), Jane the Virgin, Arrow, The Flash, etc (all genre shows you’ll notice) are more my jam. I spent my teens loving Charmed and Angel, Chuck, Pushing Daisies, Dollhouse and I still miss 30 Rock and need to find all the waffles to cope with the last season of Parks and Recreation. None of these shows were ever ratings darlings or big award winners. What do these shows get? They’re so often sidelined, “There’s less of a sense that TV buffs have to watch these shows to stay current,” and when they are nominated, it’s rare for them to get recognized a second time (I’m looking at you, Brooklyn Nine-Nine).

“Astute TV watchers may hope that Tatiana Maslany will get nominated for her work on Orphan Black, but they also know—or should, anyway—that it’s a longshot.”

— True, but it hurts, because she’s just as good — better even — than the usual players on the prestige dramas that always get nominated!

I think this line in the article is really important, as it reminds me that while the Emmy’s may not recognize my shows for awards, that it doesn’t really matter. “And if in the end we’re all more excited about a new episode of The Flash than The Affair, maybe that says something about what’s really the best that TV has to offer.” Because while there are plenty of shows that are ratings, awards, and critical hits, I think the middle-ground shows make people happier. You look forward to them more, they often have lighter or funnier storylines.  (Isn’t it a wonder that the awards that typically don’t get nominated for Emmy and Golden Globe Awards are often winners of People’s Choice Awards?) And that feeling of joy and excitement to watch your show is more important than how many awards it gets or if the big wigs over at the New Yorker or the Times think it’s “art.”

Which shows really deserve these beauties? Just the popular kids? Maybe we need participation trophies for the middle ground shows that are working just as hard. But I guess that’s the People’s Choice Awards…

Shameless plug: Here’s an article I wrote last year about New Emmy categories we need. It basically would get recognition for a lot of midlevel TV shows out there in the Dramedy, Procedural, and Scif-fi/Fantasy genres.

♦ Want to know when your shows are returning or premiering this winter? Here’s a full list thanks to THR. Make sure to input them into your calendars so you don’t miss mid-season premieres! I definitely suggest Agent Carter, which I enjoyed much more than I’ve ever enjoyed Agents of SHIELD.

♦ Finally, as I venture into my first writing project of the year (a post coming on that soon), I probably need an app like this presented by the AV Club, that doesn’t let you use the rest of your computer until you complete the goals you set. It’s easier to get around the time limit (by not writing) than the word count limit. Though I’m sure if I write WRITING IS SO HARD over and over, I’ll hit it in no time. I won’t even copy and paste.

EDIT: Maybe I will go through some old textbooks for more blog fodder…

Link: More Diversity in Prime Time: It’s Not Your Imagination – The Root

More Diversity in Prime Time: It’s Not Your Imagination – The Root

This article mostly talk about black-ish in the aftermath of it’s premiere yesterday, but it also spotlights Jane the Virgin, which I must say was probably my favorite pilot this fall. Check it out!

Also check out two more articles regarding blackish:
In ABC’s ‘Black-ish,’ everyone has racial issues [Washington Post]
Black-ish: “Pilot”: Don’t call it the black Modern Family [AV Club]

ConStar’s Pilot Watch: Cristela

I was wonderfully surprised by Cristela. It started off rough and I felt like my low expectations were being met during the first 20 seconds: Cristela walks in the room, her mother says something that’s not funny and the laugh track kicks in. It was a bad omen. I groaned aloud. I face palmed. But once it moved past forcing the first laugh, it legitimately made me crack up.

The character dynamics are on point; Cristela lives with her sister and brother-in-law, mother, and her niece (was there a nephew as well? I can’t remember). The mother was grumpy and old country, the brother-in-law hates Cristela, the sister is sexy and loves her family (clearly since she lets both her mother and her sister live in her house). Simple character traits that will define their relationships with each other and provide nice plotting.

Cristela, herself, is ambitious, but not easily so–it’s taken her six years so far to get through law school–but she’s in there and she’s not giving up. She likes sports (go Cowboys), makes friends with the adorable, inept Jewish fellow intern, and both stands up to but makes an effort to learn from her new (racist) boss. Which I hope they deal with a little better than they have so far, but they can’t squeeze everything into the pilot and most times in the world, you have to suck up people’s racism until you have the power to put them in their place–which she definitely doesn’t have yet.

The show is funny, so hopefully they don’t rely too much on forced laugh track gags like the very first one, and I think it has heart. Obviously it’s comparable to the George Lopez show, which I can’t remember well enough to really say if that’s going to help it or hinder it. The weakest part of the show was Gabriel Iglesias’ character—who seemed forced in because he’s a famous Latino comedian and who didn’t add anything to the show but weird sexual advances towards an uninterested Cristela. Hopefully they realize they don’t need his famous face.

Verdict: I was pleasantly surprised; I’m keeping it on my fall calendar.

American TV shows might look more diverse, but their writers aren’t

I haven’t posted in a while, but posts like this need sharing as much as possible. We’ve made some strides in diversity on TV, but it’s not nearly enough for it being 2014. Let’s take the diversity we’re experiencing for the new fall season and support it and applaud it so that we see even more increases in the years to come. Definitely check out this article and share it!

ABC Heralds Diverse Lineup Of Shows At TCA

“Let’s not pretend we’re there yet,” when it comes to the television industry accurately reflecting the demographics of America, ABC president Paul Lee said at the Television Critics Association press tour Tuesday. “I think we’re taking a very good step along that journey. But to be able to pull this off, you need not just stars on air […] [y]ou need the storytellers and you need the executives. I’m very proud of the fact that if you look at the executives who do development and do programming and marketing, across ABC, it’s a very diverse group of people.

via ABC Heralds Diverse Lineup Of Shows At TCA.

Seems like the president of ABC, Paul Lee isn’t trying to say they’ve reached Diversity (yes, capital D) on TV just yet, despite ABC’s wide selection of both supporting actors, leads, and full series that feature diverse families as the lead (though not sure how I feel about Asian “clan,” you already used family twice, either use three different words for family or all the same. Anyway–). It’s nice to see that ABC isn’t trying to say they’ve won anything or that there isn’t more work to be done. There definitely is.

Who Are the Emmy Voters?

Another Tatiana Maslany Emmy Nomination Snub — Vulture

Emmy nominations came out today and they’re extremely frustrating. I’ve never claimed to watch the most popular or hit shows on television, if I do, it’s usually after they’ve ended or the hype has gone down. I watch oddball stuff, the low-rated critical darling comedies (on NBC lol) and sci-fi/fantasy/action stuff (I’m binging Arrow, and I’m really enjoying it so far!). The shows I watch are hardly ever nominated. It’s not like I’m expecting Sleepy Hollow to win all the awards, I’m not. But Emmy noms make me wonder who is voting for the shows that get picked. Is it a representative sample of television watchers? Or just a bunch of old white men (and probably some women, which is good but not great) like every other prestigious committee?

We don’t really know who they are for some obvious reasons, but are there demographics available? I am thinking women are decently represented, especially with Orange is the New Black‘s nominations, and there are plenty of action loving men if HBO’s record breaking nominations are any indication. I’ve lost count of how many Game of Thrones received–this I am pleased with–but a lot of the people I know who watch Game of Thrones, also watch Orphan Black. There is a reason Sci-fi/Fantasy are so often lumped together when people list categories–fans one of often like stuff from the other. (Obviously not always, you usually pick one over the other–I’m more Fantasy than sci-fi myself.)

So who is voting for Game of Thrones but has no interest in Orphan Black? Who is voting for fantastic women on Netflix but isn’t interested in one fantastic woman playing many fantastic women on BBC America?I get that there are many other considerations to voting, people’s personal interests and whatever the For Your Consideration choice was, but for a second year in a row, an amazing actress was overlooked. And that doesn’t count the mainstream snubs: I don’t even watch The Good Wife and I think it was snubbed for a best drama nomination.

I wish we knew more about these voters. Where are they coming from? What makes them decide the way they do? Do we need an upgrade of the entire system? Like many things, I kind of imagine they haven’t changed the way they do things, or include people, in ages. Have they widened their net of voters in this ever expanding age of television? They need more sci-fi watchers, more fantasy watchers, more young people, more people who will vote for Amy Poehler to finally win that comedy award she so achingly deserves (they’ve got this year and next to recognize. She might get another show immediately, but she deserves it for Parks so, so much). There’s more television happening than ever before and it’s not being looked at by the Emmy committee. There are more networks, more internet voices coming to play in the big leagues; have we included voters to represent those new voices that these new networks and new shows are trying to bring to the forefront? The Emmy pool just tells me that the efforts being made to bring diversity to the screen isn’t being made in the voting pool.

Maybe we need a category for science fiction, since it’s the most snubbed TV genre that I can think of. Maybe I am wrong or misinformed,  but the selections aren’t showing the true pool of talent on television and isn’t that what the Emmy’s are for*?

*The answer is probably actually all about money. So everything I said means nothing. Except, the Good Wife is a hit show on the “number one network,” you know some hefty money is involved there. Ok, I’m done rambling about Emmy snubs now.

Check out the full nomination list here: http://www.thewrap.com/emmy-awards-nominees-nominations-emmys/ 

Why it matters that FX’s ‘Tyrant’ didnt cast a Middle Eastern actor in its lead role

Why it matters that FX’s ‘Tyrant’ didnt cast a Middle Eastern actor in its lead role

Check out this Hit Fix article on new FX show Tyrant and the writer’s concerns about the lead actor, playing a Middle Eastern character, being cast as white.

That, friends, is why it is important that FX is premiering a new drama on Tuesday night in which the main character is an assimilated Middle Eastern man who leaves behind his life in the West and returns to the fictional nation ruled by his family.At least as a log-line, the part of Bassam “Barry” Al-Fayeed in FX’s “Tyrant” may not be unprecedented, but it represents a big enough deviation from the Hollywood norm and from the mainstream TV norm that it’s notable and worth discussion. And that’s why it’s not an insignificant problem that this role, this trailblazing step in Middle Eastern representation is being played by Adam Rayner, an English-born actor who is half-British, half-American and not Middle Eastern in the slightest.

[…]

In “Tyrant,” Al-Fayeed’s mother is, indeed, played by Alice Krige. That the potentate of a fictional Middle Eastern country was married to a white woman and had multiple children with her seems like something at least semi-worthy of discussion to me, but it’s never addressed in the first four episodes of “Tyrant.” Her mere presence is mostly an excuse for allowing Adam Rayner to play Bassam Al-Fayeed, as if casting an actor with no Middle Eastern heritage in TV’s only top-of-the-call-sheet Middle Eastern role would be bad, but casting an actor with no Middle Eastern heritage in TV’s only top-of-the-call-sheet *half* Middle Eastern role is totally halal. 

#sigh Even when roles are written for diverse characters, they find a way to make it acceptable to cast white instead of searching for someone with a more ethnic background.

 

You should definitely click through for more, because if I copy and pasted all of the really good points, I would just be copying the whole article. Check it out.

via Why it matters that FX’s ‘Tyrant’ didnt cast a Middle Eastern actor in its lead role.

Emmys: ‘Orange Is the New Black’s’ Uzo Aduba Makes a Plea to Voters Guest Column – The Hollywood Reporter

Emmys: ‘Orange Is the New Black’s’ Uzo Aduba Makes a Plea to Voters Guest Column – The Hollywood Reporter.

I’ve been neglecting this blog (and other writing) recently (life is getting super busy and I haven’t quite adjusted yet), but Emmy season is fast approaching and I hope to have more time to discuss shows as nominations approach in July.

So I may not be back, but I’ll hopefully post links to articles like this one. This one is especially important because it’s by a black actress making the case for diverse shows to get more Emmy recognition. Her show, Orange is the New Black, is of course an interesting contender: breaking out of the network and even premium cable mold, but it’s also female driven and has a lot of strong characters of color with increasingly important roles.

Check out the article and I’ll hopefully have more to share soon!

Highlights:

  • “The last series with a non-white cast to win the comedy Emmy was The Cosby Show in 1985.”
  • “The last woman of color to take the comedy actress prize was Isabel Sanford (The Jeffersons) in 1981.”
  • “Today, with the groundbreaking impact of Orange Is the New Black, it’s time for Emmy to not only redefine what a winning comedy is but also what “Emmy worthy” looks like.”
  • I love that she mentions Khadijah James (Queen Latifah) from Living Single.

Quote: Co-Screenwriter of ‘Noah’ Explains Why There Are No Black People Or POC In The Film | Shadow and Act

What we realized is that this story is functioning at the level of myth, and as a mythical story, the race of the individuals doesn’t matter. They’re supposed to be stand-ins for all people. Either you end up with a Bennetton ad or the crew of the Starship Enterprise.”

What’s wrong with the Starship Enterprise?! What’s wrong with some diversity?! In order to maintain the story that Noah and his family repopulate the earth, the casting directors went with all white actors. And People of Color have had enough with the whitewashing (Noah, as a resident of the Middle East, would not have had Russel Crowe’s complexion) but if you want to say race doesn’t matter, then why not have each member of the family come from a different part of the world? I know from the story that Noah’s sons had wives: why not have them be non-white?

White as the default is very strong, but especially in mythic stories even when the story doesn’t belong to white people. It was a relief when I learned that the new FOX show Hieroglyph isn’t cast with all white people, but actual People of Color (we haven’t gotten as far as casting people directly from or descendent of the region, though).

There’s the idea that if something in a character description isn’t relevant to the plot, don’t write it in. So if a character isn’t described as being Black or Asian or Indian, it’s usually thought of to be white, even though the race of the character has nothing to do with the plot, hence why it wasn’t mentioned, so the character should be able to be cast as any race. We need to get past white as default, because it leaves so many people with no representations of themselves in the media in places where they could have been or even should have been represented.

It’s awful that he said this. I don’t think he realized the problems with his words, but it’s certainly not earned him anything from People of Color. It is clear that he thinks that in order for a story to be accepted by everyone and to stand on a grand, epic scale, only white people can be in it. Asian people or Black people or Hispanic people can’t be epic or represent mankind. Again, I think a better, more diplomatic solution would have been to cast everyone as a different race, but I suppose that would have been too controversial for them.

via Co-Screenwriter of ‘Noah’ Explains Why There Are No Black People Or POC In The Film | Shadow and Act.

Link: Bringing Diversity to TV: Whose Job Is It? | Hyphen magazine – Asian American arts, culture, and politics

Bringing Diversity to TV: Whose Job Is It? | Hyphen magazine – Asian American arts, culture, and politics

To be frank, it’s a huge deal that she [Mindy Kaling] has her own show at all, and she’s undoubtedly broken lots of barriers and paved the way for more women of color to do the same thing. But if we can’t merely rely on more diverse creative teams to help us with more equal, more three-dimensional representation, who should we count on? Whose responsibility is it to bring more diversity to television?

Click through for more.

Link: Who Creates Drama At HBO? Very Few Women Or People Of Color

Mo Ryan of the Huffington Post breaks down cable/premium channel lack of diversity (for both women and PoCs) in the last few years. The numbers are awfully lacking any kind of diversity. We think the networks are bad with this stuff and that premium/cable is the way to go, but their numbers are somewhat worse! Check the quote and click through for the article.

Audiences can and should take individual writers to task for problems they perceive in a given show. But as long as this debate is limited to individual dramas, and doesn’t consider the entities that commission and distribute them, the conversation is likely to go around in circles indefinitely.

via Who Creates Drama At HBO? Very Few Women Or People Of Color.

‘About Last Night’ Writer Fought Against Racial Stereotypes When Re-Writing Script – Atlanta Black Star

The writer for About Last Night, a white writer, was very cool about the cast changes from a traditionally white-cast rom-com, to a black one, but others weren’t so cool about it.

It was like my script was suddenly not as good or less than or just plain not cool because of the casting. Whatever. Those people suck.

I haven’t seen the movie yet, but this is nice to hear. Just because a movie features black actors, doesn’t mean their lives must appear different than if the movie were starring white actors. There are a few cultural differences, but we have the same careers, the same relationship problems, and the same insecurities that everyone of any race has. The last quote was my favorite:

Before Headland even finished the first version of the script she told herself, “Don’t write jokes, Leslye. Write people.”

via ‘About Last Night’ Writer Fought Against Racial Stereotypes When Re-Writing Script – Atlanta Black Star.

Also read more: ‘About Last Night’ Writer on Reimagining Movie for a Black Cast  [The Hollywood Reporter]

 

Pilot Season Diversity: Various Network Pilots

For the last few days, I’ve been showcasing some pilots being worked on this season with diverse casting. Here are some more that might be coming to our screens in the fall, but maybe I am less invested in. I found them by checking the TVLine descriptions and seeing which actors/producers are PoCs. If a show coming up with PoCs is being made but not on this list, I just didn’t notice. Definitely not an extensive list, and I’ll be keeping an eye out for more along the way.

Descriptions are from TVLine

Fresh Off the Boat (Comedy)
EPs | Nahnatchka Kahn (Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23), Jake Kasdan, and Melvin Mar
It’s the 90’s and hip hop loving Eddie is growing up in suburban Orlando, raised by an immigrant father who is obsessed with all things American and an immigrant mother who is often bewildered by white culture. With his father owning and operating an All-American Steakhouse chain, this loving family of FOB (“fresh off the boat”) Taiwanese Americans try to live the American dream while still maintaining their cultural identity and sense of family. [ABC]

I hope this makes it just because its an ethnicity we don’t get to see much of on television. The specifics of Asian culture is often grossly glossed over. I went to school with Asian students with families from all over the continent, so I got a chance to learn about different aspects of Asian life and how each nationality differs from each other, but most Americans don’t know Asian from being specifically Chinese or Japanese. Just because TV is entertainment, doesn’t mean you should never learn anything about different people.

How to Get Away With Murder (Drama)
EPs | Peter Nowalk (Grey’s Anatomy), Shonda Rhimes, Betsy Beers
A sexy, suspense-driven legal thriller about a group of ambitious law students and their brilliant, mysterious criminal defense professor who become entangled in a murder plot that will rock the entire university and change the course of their lives. [ABC]

No guarantees on who the casting will be for this one, but as a Shonda Rhimes show, it is sure to have color-blind casting.

Untitled Kevin Hart Project (Comedy)
EPs | Kevin Hart, Dave Becky, Neil Goldman and Garrett Donovan (Community)
Based on Kevin Hart’s life and stand-up, it takes a candid look at the post-divorce life of a couple trying to forge a friendship for the sake of their kids, despite differences. [ABC]

Kevin Hart has been everywhere. He has like 4 movies out, 3 shows in development, and who knows what else. I don’t know if that over-saturation is stifling his true funniness (some people have said his stand-up special wasn’t as good as the previous ones), but hopefully this turns out good. Kevin Hart is funny and we have zero black sitcoms on network TV. If this AND Blackish get greenlit, that would make a grand total of 2. #sigh

The Flash (Drama)
EPs | Greg Berlanti (Arrow), Andrew Kreisberg, Geoff Johns, David Nutter, Melissa Kellner Berman
DIRECTOR | David Nutter (Arrow)
CAST | Grant Gustin (Glee), Jesse L. Martin (Law & Order), Danielle Panabaker (Shark) and Rick Cosnett (The Vampire Diaries)
The Arrow spin-off follows Barry Allen, a Central City assistant police forensics investigator with a tragic past.

Jesse L. Martin is all I have to say. I bit token-esque, but I’ll let it go lol.

Cabot College (Comedy)
EPs | Matt Hubbard, Tina Fey, Robert Carlock, Pam Fryman, David Miner
DIRECTOR | Pam Fryman (How I Met Your Mother)
CAST | Bonnie Dennison (Third Watch), Jack Cutmore-Scott, Brandon Jones, Margaret Cho (Drop Dead Diva)
A women’s college begins accepting men for the first time in its history.

While I’ll give any new show from Tina a chance, it featuring Margaret Cho is a plus in the diversity factor. Also Pam Fryman from HIMYM fame is a plus for me.

Empire (Drama)
EPs | Danny Strong (The Butler), Lee Daniels (The Butler), Brian Grazer, Francie Calfo
DIRECTOR | Lee Daniels (The Butler)
A unique family drama set in the world of a hip-hop empire [FOX]

I probably wouldn’t watch this, but it could be a great black drama, which are even harder to name than black comedies…

Mr. Robinson (Comedy) — ORDERED TO SERIES
EPs | Mark Cullen and Rob Cullen (Back in the Game), Howard Klein, Mark Schulman
CAST | Craig Robinson (The Office), Larenz Tate (House of Lies), Amanda Lund, Jean Smart (Harry’s Law, Hawaii Five-0)
A talented musician adjusts to his new life as a middle school music teacher, where he maneuvers precocious kids, teacher politics, and the temptations of single moms. [NBC]

This one’s already been ordered to series and stars Office alum Craig Robinson. So there will be at least one new black sitcom coming in fall. It sounds very similar to the Steve Harvey Show, so I’ll have to check it out to see how it’s different/updated for the new millennium.

It surprises me not one bit that none of these shows are for CBS… I don’t remember any for the CW either (and with it’s WB/UPN  strong PoC cast roots, this is sad to say).

IO’m excited for all of these shows featuring people of color. It’s about time we got some new faces on our TV screens. Hopefully these survive pilot season and we get to at least give them a test run in September.

for more, check TVLine’s Pilot Scoop

 

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Pilot Season Diversity Watch: Hieroglyph

EDIT JULY 1, 2014: Hieroglyph, despite it’s straight to series order, was cancelled by Fox. More here.

From TVLine:

Hieroglyph (Drama) — ORDERED TO SERIES [FOX]
EPs | Travis Beacham (Pacific Rim), Peter Chernin, Katherine Pope, Miguel Sapochnik
CAST | Reece Ritchie, Kelsey Chow, Condola Rashad
A notorious thief is plucked from prison to serve the Pharoah, navigating palace intrigue, seductive concubines, criminal underbellies and even a few divine sorcerers.

It seems FOX is committing to it’s diversity in sci-fi theme. After the success of this year’s Sleepy Hollow, FOX has ordered another supernatural drama with PoC in the lead role. Also for a 13 episode run, Hieroglyph has already been ordered to series, meaning we’ll see it when they air it.

As someone who loves The Mummy, I’m hoping it’s something in the same vein. I wonder if it’s airing in conjunction with Sleepy Hollow which is set to return next fall. Both series are supernatural shows with PoCs as leads and I think Sleepy Hollow’s success could mean pairing them together on the same night to give this new show Sleepy Hollow’s lead-in numbers. I could also see it as a summer series, perhaps in Sleepy Hollow’s same time slot. Either way, I’m excited to see what they do. FOX seems to be trying to make up for cancelling Dollhouse and Firefly (and causing other shows to derail because of executive meddling), so hopefully they keep it up.

for more, check TVLine’s Pilot ScoopFox Gives 13-Episode Series Order To Ancient Egypt Drama ‘Hieroglyph’ From Travis Beacham & Chernin Entertainment

Response Post: “New Girl, Brooklyn 99, and Breaking the “One Black Friend” Pattern | TIME.com”

Can you find the token? (Love you Dule Hill)

It’s so very rare to find a show with more than one character of color. Some notable tokens off the top of my head include Angela from Boy Meets World, Lisa from Saved by the Bell,  Martha Jones from Doctor Who, Charlie on The West Wing and Gunn on Angel. 30 Rock subverts the trend by having Tracy Jordan in the main cast, but also Twofer, who is both black and nerdy. Some of the disappointment behind Agents of SHIELD came from the team claiming diversity and internationality (yup, I made that up), but only having one character of color, Melinda May.

For the most part, the characters listed above were main cast members, but even when I Googled “Token Black Character,” a lot of the examples were recurring characters, if that. When we begin to include 1-episode black characters as “token” characters, it doesn’t look good for the diversity of television.

Some shows this season, however, are trying to buck that trend. Mostly they’re on FOX, who started and seems to be maintaining a diversity initiative this season. Brooklyn 99 has one of the most diverse casts out there, up there with Grey’s Anatomy in terms of variety, which makes sense due to its New York Police Department setting. FOX also airs Sleepy Hollow, which has 2 black main cast members and up to 4 black supporting characters. Then there’s John Cho’s recurring character and the sometimes seen Abbie ex-boyfriend Det. Morales.

And when they brought Damon Wayans Jr back to New Girl, I was pleasantly surprised that Lamorne Morris wasn’t going anywhere. (Though, just through a quick google, there don’t seem to be any new cast photos with Damian– I have to wonder how the conversation went down when they told Lamorne Damon was coming back. Was there a “don’t worry, we’re not replacing you with him like we did him with you” conversation, or was it just we’re adding him to the cast everyone, no one is leaving. With this trend so prevalent, I would have been a little nervous my time was up.)

This article, from Time a few weeks ago, discusses FOX and other networks beginning to break the 1 black friend trend, which we could hopefully include other nationalities of color too. Here are some of my favorite quotes from the article.

But it’s also a welcome change because it makes New Girl a rarity in TV today: a major-network sitcom with more than one African American character in its regular ensemble–a comedy about friends in which “a black friend” isn’t “the black friend.”

[…]

The big networks have had a notoriously sketchy track record on casting diversity–better some seasons, terrible other seasons. The reaction has tended to be adding minority characters to shows with largely white casts. That affects the overall math, of course, but it has the side effect of replicating a universe in which black–or Asian, Latino, &c.–characters are scattered, uniformly and singly.

[…]

The exceptions are scarce: Troy and Shirley on Community; Glee, if you count that as a comedy; Parks and Recreation, depending on your definition. (That is, Rashida Jones is biracial, but having seen every episode I can’t recall Ann Perkins’ ethnicity.)

[…]

Brooklyn 9-9, the diversity is very conscious, not for p.c. reasons but simple realism. As its co-creators have said, it’s a New York City police show, and New York’s police department is about half minority. So you’ll see two Latina detectives who are very different personalities, because why not? You’ll see Andre Braugher and Terry Crews (who had a fantastic episode this week), sharing a subplot about Crews’ character’s annoying brother-in-law–not because they’re bonded as the precinct’s black characters, but simply because they work together, and it’s life–and, you know, in-laws, amirite?

[…]

But there’s another reason: sometimes, a show should just have two black women on it, because sometimes in life, there just are two black women in the same place. (Again: or men, or Indian, or Middle Eastern, or…) TV should be diverse because of fairness, but above all because it should reflect the world.

I hope this upcoming pilot seasons shows a continued growth to this trend. It shouldn’t just be FOX and Shonda Rhimes’ shows on ABC that have more than one token character of color. But that’s if the shows feature a character of color at all, like I said, sometimes the token is a recurring character and not even a supporting character. All television shows don’t necessarily have to be a tossed salad of racial diversity, but more shows need it.

Read more: New Girl, Brooklyn 9-9, and Breaking the “One Black Friend” Pattern | TIME.com http://entertainment.time.com/2013/11/07/new-girl-brooklyn-9-9-and-breaking-the-one-black-friend-pattern/#ixzz2q49hWhew

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Article Response Essay: In the White Room With Black Writers: Hollywood’s “Diversity Hires”

In the White Room With Black Writers: Hollywood’s “Diversity Hires”.

via IndiesUnchained via WGA

This article, by Beejoli Shah dishes out some of the real workings of what is basically Affirmative Action in the TV writer’s world. She discusses what it is to be a “Diversity Staff Writer” (DSW) on a show and the pluses and minuses that come with obtaining that title. It is a bit of a long read, but definitely worth it. [Below became a long read as well.] There are many great insights in this article, I’ve quoted blocks of text below and appended further thoughts on the issues raised.

Most every writing room has one—an entry level, non-white staff writer, explicitly hired due to their race. (If you’re really lucky, being gay or a woman might just suffice, in lieu of not being white.) […] Perversely, Hollywood’s genuine attempt to remedy the overwhelming whiteness of the industry has instead led to a place where networks pat themselves on the back for hiring a token writer by institutionalizing those sotto voce complaints.

This is going to be a major issue (again) as of this week, since the hiring of Sasheer Zamata to be the first Black Female cast member to be on Saturday Night Live since Maya Rudolph left 6 years ago. It’s great that they’ve hired her, but it was only done so after major backlash after the current season was newly staffed and it is very clear that she is the token; the diversity hire. They didn’t look at her in the pool of everyone who auditioned, they’re looking at her in a pool of other black, female comediennes (an issue which Beejoli discusses further down). They’ve seen her in a pool of people like her and seen her as the best, but she shouldn’t be boxed in to a subset. More on this later.

It will then tack on some extra cash earmarked solely for a diversity hire, so that the studio budget can instead go towards everything that’s “integral” for the show to function.[…] Showrunners don’t have to worry about wasting their studio budget on a token hire that may not be so great in the room, a young colored writer gets a shot at the dream, networks proudly get to proclaim their commitment to diversity, everyone wins!

She kind of make it sound like an internship. The intern is the bottom of the office food-chain (in this case, the intern thankfully gets paid, but the same amount of respect). The show doesn’t really have to put any mental effort into hiring this person (they should, obviously, if they want a person who will creatively contribute, but it can be anyone and they lose no money for the choice).

Beejoli goes on to tell us that not a single new show brought in this season (2013-14), was created by a person of color. And I’m not even sure how many veteran shows are; Beejoli mentions Shonda Rhimes (because how can you not), but the fact that no one can ever name anyone else? That’s a problem. Essentially, Shonda is the showrunner diversity hire. No one has to hire a show runner of color because we already have one on TV.

Fox can guarantee a person of color a job to return to in future seasons, but also cleverly hold a person down at the level of diverse staff writer, even though they may be far too qualified to remain there.

It also seems to me that this could prevent new DSWs from getting work on a show because a show already has one that will remain on staff for that second season, while being paid with the diversity money rather than the regular staff writer’s allocation?

Beejoli says that some shows try to circumvent the issue by allowing “diversities” in traditionally white, male writers that aren’t usually considered diverse. A man reached deep into his family tree to discover he was a part Mexican, while another writer was given the position due to his heart murmur. I have a rare extra superior vena cava in my heart, can that count in my diversity points (besides being a nerdy, black, female obviously)?

there was a known stigma in the TV writing world that diversity hires are never quite as good, so much as they are just there.

This is my fear for Sasheer (I’ll probably post on this more later), but it’s also a problem in other Affirmative Action environments, like schools, etc. There is a lot of fear when being a black student at an expensive, possibly Ivy-league (/quality) school, that the other kids will look down on you because they see you as less intelligent. You got into the school because you are [black, Indian, Asian, etc], not because you “belong” there. And sometimes, when you feel overwhelmed in those environments, you have no one to talk to about it, because then it seems like you really don’t belong there (when in fact everyone feels the same way).

But in practice, the diversity hires are traditionally seen as slightly lower than plain old staff writers. The showrunner had to really want the staff writer there to be willing to part with $70,000 that could be spent on production or a different writer, whereas the diversity staff writer was a free gift from the network.

Like I said, kind of like an intern.

“Do you want to be writing partners? This white male writer not in a partnership thing isn’t working out.” “Listen, you’re both good writers, but he needs you more than you need him. He’s never read you before—he just wants an easier shot of getting staffed, because you’re diverse.”

I feel like this has come up in my life or the lives of my Friends of Color. Where someone attaches on to you because, “you’re black, they’ll let you in because they have to.” I don’t have a specific example, but it’s always strange to think of times when you have more possibility of doing something because you’re a person of color, since usually it’s (/you fear) the opposite. OR, as the article sort of talks around, people look down on you because you got in because you were diverse, but once you’re in, it’s a whole ‘nother set of issues.

“You know, you’re just like that girl from The Office. You could be the next Mindy Kaling!”

Whenever I mention my love of TV and desire to write for it, everyone says, “You could be the next Shonda Rhimes!” Which is cool, I admire Shonda for all that she’s done, but why can’t I be the next… Joss Whedon (another show runner I admire—Agents of SHIELD notwithstanding…) or Aaron Sorkin (without the drug problem).  When it comes from other black people, I think it’s really just them wanting my name to be with hers (or something along those lines, my thought on this isn’t fully formed), but the fact that it comes from everyone who you mention it to… A friend of mine is a black actress who is producing a web series, so everyone says, “You could be the next Issa Rae!” As Beejoli mentions, it’s stuffing us in a “racial box.” She quotes Mindy Kaling herself, who said: “I feel like I can go head-to-head with the best white, male comedy writers that are out there. Why would I want to self-categorize myself into a smaller group than I’m able to compete in?”

 I was also starting to think of myself as only a diversity writer. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve called my agents to tell them that I heard there’s a diversity position open on a show.

This has been so relevant to my thought processes. When thinking about writing (because I need to sit down and actually do more of it…), I’ve gone from saying, “I should write for [insert show with predominantly white cast/writers]” to “I should watch more black produced shows so I can write specs for those.” And while this is certainly something I should do, because part of my desire to write is to create more content for black people to watch on television, I shouldn’t have to feel like I could only write for the next The Cosby Show or Fresh Prince. And it’s poisonous to think you should only write for diverse groups and then “move up” to, say, network television.

It’s poisonous to think that you should be the “diversity hire” and then “move up” to regular staff writer. It’s putting diverse writers and diverse television shows on a lower rung than the “rest” of television. “Shows with PoC are lesser than network shows without.” Back when UPN and the WB existed, they were looked down upon compared to the other networks, and part of that had to do with their commitment to airing shows with black casts (I say partly because even now the CW is “lesser” than the big 4 even though the CW has long abandoned the WBs diverse offerings). We must get out of this thinking. It’s one thing for the white dominated studios and networks to see the diversity hire as being of less worth, it’s another for it to spread to our own ways of thinking. Then we’ll never rise above the way the system works now. But as Beejoli says, the higher ups aren’t making the change just yet (outside of severe pressure from audiences *coughSNLcough*), so how can things really change?

I think Beejoli’s article is one way. It’s better to go in understanding how things may work, so that if given the opportunity, you can change it. People can band together to make things run differently. The “diversity hires” need to stick together and help everyone realize that there’s more to a person of color joining your writing staff than filling your token quota.

Related links: More Than A Diversity Hire: WGAW’S Female Asian Comedy Writer’s Panel Notes

Brief Response to: What every TV show can learn from Sleepy Hollow – The Week

What every TV show can learn from Sleepy Hollow – The Week.

Thank you Laura (the author of this article) for pointing out all the reasons why I love Sleepy Hollow and for not ignoring all the things all those other articles have been ignoring about the show. It’s diversity in race AND in female characters are both the biggest reasons why it’s doing so well, it’s social media and the storyline are important, but if the leads were both white men, it wouldn’t be doing as well as it is.

Some points from the article that I loved:

First and foremost, the series boasts one of the most diverse casts anywhere on television. Two of its four series regulars are African-American (Nichole Beharie and Orlando Jones), while all three of its most frequently recurring characters — played by John Cho, Lyndie Greenwood, and Nicholas Gonzalez — are people of color.

Even Grey’s Anatomy, probably the other highly diverse show on television (I can’t even think of others besides the one I will point out next), doesn’t have the percentages of PoCs/whites as this show does. PoC’s have the higher percentage on this show, Grey’s (this is definitely not an official count, just a gut opinion) probably runs 50/50? I think the other show that can boast great diversity on Sleepy Hollow’s level is Brooklyn 99, which has 2 white guys and 1 white woman in it’s main cast of 7; the rest are PoCs.

The same study observed that shows with the highest percentage of racial diversity in their casts also performed better in the ratings than shows with less inclusive casts. As the study’s author, Darnell Hunt, pointed out: “It’s clear that people are watching shows that reflect and relate to their own experiences.”

Why does no one in Hollywood want to admit this is a true thing or do anything about it? Hopefully networks will follow FOX’s example (something I am loathe to normally say– I don’t agree with some of their other storytelling traditions)

It’s as if women can maintain relationships without being defined by who they’re dating — a novel concept!

Love this line. While most of the conversations between these women actually do revolve around Ichabod (which is of course going to be the case–not a fault but a necessity), it would totally pass the Bechdel test (if perhaps, the Headless Horseman were a woman). Their conversations aren’t necessarily about their relationships with the men, but about how to save them (or destroy them).

Jones has embraced fan fiction, fan art, gifs, and the art of “shipping” — for bothSleepy Hollow and similarly fan-friendly shows like Supernatural — endearing himself to the show’s growing audience and helping to bring fan activities that were once considered niche or somehow shameful into the mainstream, reducing the stigma that’s still generally attached to demonstrating your appreciation for a piece of pop culture.

I’ve definitely appreciated OJs commitment to the fandom. I’ve been a part of various fandoms in my life, but always in secret (well–some parts in secret. I am an obvious nerd about a lot of things, but I have read fanfiction, for example, but don’t really talk about it because of what the author says: the stigma of fan activities. I definitely downplay some of my fan ways, which may lead people who know me to go “it could get worse?!” ;-)). So, while I haven’t delved that deeply into the Sleepy Hollow fandom, I appreciate that others are allowed to voice their opinions, share their work, and interact with the stars of the show, because pop culture and fandom make people feel less alone in the world. It really brings people together, so it’s nice that the sources of these feelings encourage it.

This article has some other gems, including:

Despite it being their number one new show, the network wisely decided that a less-is-more approach was more prudent, commissioning a second season without insisting on a back-nine episode order — a risk that might have led to a reduction in quality as the writers attempted to stretch a 13-episode story into 22 installments. Far too many network series wear out fans with too many meandering episodes, but Fox has ensured that Sleepy Hollow will leave viewers wanting more instead of overstaying its welcome.

I agree with this sentiment, it is better to let them control 13 episodes of story than to force them to then expand it into 22, which definitely messes many shows up; many writer’s rooms aren’t adept at handling that transition. This will be better for Sleepy Hollow and the fans in the long-run.

I am glad there is finally an article that speaks of all the points that make Sleepy Hollow the show to watch this season.

Quote/Link: Fox TV Says That Diversity Is Just Good Business Sense [Shadow and Act]

Of course it may seem like a no-brainer, but execs told those in attendance that their shows must reflect today’s current and increasingly multi-racial and multi-cultural world in order to attract those coveted younger viewers.

Of course the success that Fox has enjoyed with their runaway hit Sleepy Hollow, which has already been renewed for a second season, and other current shows, like Almost Human and Brooklyn Nine-Nine, are just some signs of the network’s commitment to its new programming strategy.

Fox TV Says That Diversity Is Just Good Business Sense [Shadow and Act]

At least FOX is getting with the program. I love BK99 and Sleepy Hollow (and a bunch of other people are watching and talking about it) and I am looking forward to watching Almost Human. When you have a diverse cast, you basically double your expected audience, because while I watch plenty of “mainstream” (read: majority white cast) TV shows (and enjoy them), I have more pre-interest in a show that has a diverse cast. I look forward to it more. If Michael Ealy wasn’t in Almost Human (if the character was a white person), I’d perhaps be interested because it’s JJ Abrams, but I would be less interested, less invested, and less likely to watch it. Other people feel the same way. The same goes for Sleepy Hollow. I didn’t know anything about it before it premiered. If I’d heard about it (merely the title), I didn’t really care. I checked it out because I learned there was a black female star. I probably wouldn’t have if Nichole Beharie (or any other black female) hadn’t been the star. Networks really need to pay attention, the success of Sleepy Hollow and Scandal is not isolated to social media, their premises, or even the good writing (because both shows are great, but they’re not perfect). Those things are a factor, but their diversity is what has helped them skyrocket to the hit shows that they are.

Article Response: Why I think “Why Is ‘Sleepy Hollow’ A Hit?” from Forbes is Missing a BIG Factor

First: Click here and skim Why Is ‘Sleepy Hollow’ A Hit? – Forbes, though I basically summarize it below.

Here are some reasons the Forbes gives for the success of my favorite new show of the season, Sleepy Hollow and some counterarguments.

1. “Choosing a young person, Emily Murray, as ‘Social Media Producer.'”

2. “Using Facebook and Twitter” (duh? What else would you use?), or I guess the point is knowing where your fans are hanging out (which is an excellent point–Castle, Doctor Who, and Supernatural fans rule Tumblr, Scandal and Sleepy Hollow are Twitter hits, no one is really using Facebook for this kind of thing).

3. “Collaborating internally.” I guess this means having the social media team and creatives and marketing people all work together to have gifs and images ready for the twitter experience; all of that requires multiple departments to work with the social media guys.

4. Focusing on the product, not the company.” or I guess, creating a community around the show not the network, but this is what every show does. Every show has a twitter account and makes it about the show. This isn’t a special thing Sleepy Hollow is doing.

5. Getting the actors to tweet. Yes, this is a huge helping, which they learned from shows like Scandal. Get everyone on board and people will retweet behind the scenes info or Orlando Jones being a hilarious doofball mentioning fanfiction and gifs in his tweets.

6. The twitter account having a back and forth “fight” with the twitter account from rival network show Elementary. Yes, this was funny to see and contributed to word of mouth.

But the article, which is definitely tech/social media focused, didn’t at all think about the show or the fans it draws. Other shows do these very same things. They have show specific twitter accounts. They try to get their actors to live tweet. They have the marketing department draw up designs and posters that work with their live tweeting efforts. These aren’t the only factors.

The audience is a major factor, and who is in Sleepy Hollow‘s audience? The same kinds of people who are in Scandal’s audience. Young black (females mostly, but some males who reluctantly admit they watch either or both shows) people (what these young people call Black Twitter). The media hasn’t yet caught on that young African-Americans LOVE Twitter. And if you give us a show with a black lead, we will watch that show (because we don’t have many options with that factor, so we watch the ones that do until there are more options). And we will tweet about it to our other African-American friends on Twitter. And shows like Sleepy Hollow and Scandal, both with a black female lead, will skyrocket to the top of the tv ratings and social media discussion charts. Oh, but we don’t talk about this being a factor, do we? Nor do we discuss the fact that the person doing the most tweeting and connecting with the fans is Orlando Jones, a person of color. These things are certainly important.

Other shows have tried to mimic the formula of Scandal. They’ve done the same social media things that Sleepy Hollow is doing. And yet they’re not ratings phenomena. All because the networks and media coverage are hesitant to acknowledge the real reason these shows are blowing up: because people want to see diversity on their TV screens. They are more likely to tune in. They are more likely to tell their black/asian/hispanic/white/etc friends about it. And then the show get super popular and gets renewed for the next season 4 episodes in, like Sleepy Hollow did.

Don’t let social media take all the credit for this show’s success. I know that’s what the article was about, but in a discussion about social media, you should discuss the people who use social media, and their various idiosyncrasies. That’s the real way of understanding how to use it and what platforms are best.

New UCLA Study Finds That TV Shows w/ Ethnically Diverse Casts & Crew Have Higher Ratings | Shadow and Act

I recently half-joked about how instrumental the additions of Angela Bassett and Gabourey Sidibe to the cast of this season of American Horror Story were, in helping its premiere episode become the most-watched telecast ever

But really! What this article (kind of surprisingly) forgot to mention was shows like Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal, whose diverse casts skyrocketed them both to being ABC’s #1 dramas. I think even Glee got it’s popularity boost when it came out because it had a diverse cast (though many have problems with the way that diversity is presented on the show, but that’s another issue). ER and Lost are also shows with that I’ve recently been reminded had diverse casts and hit  #1 status in their day. They are the hot Thursday shows. And recent addition Sleepy Hollow has been doing extremely well (probably even better than the network or anyone thought) and I believe that is in large part to its diverse cast.

It’s kind of unbelievable that networks haven’t caught on to the fact that this is working. ABC is clearly trying to copy some form of the Scandal formula with it’s show Betrayal. Sexy secrets and affairs, a “scandalous” name– but these aren’t the things that make Scandal a hit, so ABC going with some blandly all white cast and a hot name and some racy storylines isn’t going to drive it to be the hit that Scandal is. Scandal is successful because of its black lead and showrunner, who see that diversity in storytelling is what makes a hit show even more popular.

via New UCLA Study Finds That TV Shows w/ Ethnically Diverse Casts & Crew Have Higher Ratings | Shadow and Act.

What I Love About Key and Peele

Key and Peele is brilliant comedy and exactly what I want more of on television.

What I mean when I say that is that Key and Peele are black comedians, but the things they joke about and goof on aren’t always things that are considered apart of black culture. Sure, they do sketches on smoking weed and ridiculous football player names (which, while might be “considered” common of black media, it could also be seen in a white comedians sketch show. things get tinted to be about one culture, but so many things are actually universal), but they also referenced Of Mice and Men, Les Mis and, in tonight’s episode, Ratatouille and mafia movies.

These are not things that one would normally think you’d see in a black comedians sketch show, but it’s a perfect sampling for the fact that black people are more than just the stereotype, sidekicks. We like the same things everyone else does, just with a sprinkling of our particular experience as black people. A movie or TV show that stars was written by a black person CAN appeal to the masses, because what we offer is the same thing that white writers/stars offer.

Key and Peele is brilliant and I’m glad it is being appreciated by audiences of all types.

Making Diversity the Norm, a Quote

Aisha Muharrar, a writer for NBC-TV’s Parks and Recreation, understands our nostalgic longing for programs that reflected us in authentic characters and situations that brought laughs without compromising our dignity. “I loved watching The Cosby Show, Living Single, Fresh Prince and Family Matters when I was a kid. But so did all my white friends. They were just good shows we all enjoyed. The answer is to make it the norm again so two shows don’t have to be the representation for all of black culture.”

The Shonda Rhimes Effect