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TOPIC: When Writers’ Rooms Aren’t Diverse

When Writers’ Rooms Aren’t Diverse 28 Oct 2015 12:58 #8264

  • ashleen.k
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I recently watched this video by Slate, titled: This is what happens when writers’ rooms aren’t diverse. In this video, they explain how, while actors on TV shows may be more diverse, the writing staff is still mainly white. For instance, they show that the percentage of white staff writers was 91% in 2001, dropping to only 86% in 2013, while ALL minority staff writers accounted for 9% in 2001 to reach only 14% in 2013. Additionally, the percentage of shows with NO minority writers on staff increased from 29% for the 2011-12 season to 37% for the 2013-14 season.

The problem this creates, is that the minority characters on these shows are written by white people, who don’t know or care enough about the character’s culture to make them interesting. Instead, they stick to old, “damaging, unimaginative tropes”, that perpetuates negative stereotypes. They listed several of these tropes, explaining how each was harmful to society's view of other races, including: “always killed first”, “token black/minority best friend”, “weird foreigner”, “emasculated Asian man”, and “wisecracking ethnic help”.

They then list newer, more diverse shows or shows focusing on minority groups, which have writer’s rooms with diversity. These shows, like Empire, Jane the Virgin, Black-ish, or the Mindy Project, have created intelligent, compelling, dimensional characters who experience relevant and interesting situations that let the audience see way beyond any stereotype.
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When Writers’ Rooms Aren’t Diverse 31 Oct 2015 11:50 #8281

  • Robert.M
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While the world is no where near perfect, I am happy that more minority characters are making their way to the forefront of television. I agree that more writers need to be in the writers room in order to appropriately depict certain cultures and races. However, while there is more diversity, there is still an extreme lack of it as well. Many Hollywood moguls say that the lack of diversity comes from the writers not writing good diverse characters of many races. But really the problems lies with the show runners who need to hire more than 90% white writers.
Hiring writers from many races and cultures will only enrich television storylines as long as the diverse characters are lumped into their racial stereotypes.
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