Color-Blind Casting

"Friends" exec producer David Crane came to Summer TV Press Tour 2006 over the weekend to promote his next all-white ensemble sitcom about a bunch of people living in an urban East Coast setting - this time Philly.

It's called "The Class," it's for CBS, and it's about a group of 20-somethings who have known each other since third grade and who get together for a reunion of sorts.

"Why aren't there any people of color in this show set in 2006?" one critic wanted to know.

"It is something that is unfortunate," Crane said, putting on his Sad Face.

"It happened because when we wrote the script, we wrote it color-blind... and then we auditioned. For six months we saw just a huge range and diversity of actors and at the end of the day these were absolutely the eight actors who were absolutely right for the parts."

Wouldn't you think that, in this day and age, the TV industry talk on the West Side of Los Angeles would have labored long and hard to come up with something fresher than that old line? Crane and gang were using this one back when "Friends" debuted in the mid 90's.

We weren't the only member of the press who found it lame:

"When the word 'color-blind' casting is almost always used, is it possible that color-blind casting isn't working and you need to think about some other way? Because color-blind doesn't seem to do it," one critic cracked

"Having gotten to the end of the process, I would say 'yeah.' If we had it to do over again, I think we wouldn't. I think we would have approached the piece differently," he said, which also sounded suspiciously familiar.

"Is it possible that it has to start in the writing?" the critic continued.

"I'm absolutely agreeing with you. I think whatever we do next -- hopefully we won't have too much opportunity to, because we'll be busy doing this -- but whatever we do next, yeah, I think that is absolutely the case."

And, he promised, we'll see some actual non-white characters in future episodes of the series. Turns out, twins Kat and Lina were adopted by Korean parents, while Nicole's stepdaughter has an African-American mother.

By Maura McCarthy  |  July 17, 2006; 11:02 AM ET Summer TV Press Tour 2006
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Comments

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Well, having worked for a writer back in the late 90s, let me offer another point of view. If we wrote a part into a script for a specific race or color of actor we would be subject to all kinds of nastygram emails from advocacy groups. "Why does the innercity basketball kid have to be played by a black person? Dont you realize you're just playing on a stereotype that all black kids play basketball" etc.

I agree this article makes me sad, and I dont know what the solutino is, but the solution is not to "write to" an actor with a certain color in mind, it cant be.

Posted by: TimJ | July 17, 2006 11:29 AM

That's only a problem if you write a black character to be a stereotype. If, on the other hand, you write a highly gifted neurologist who happens to be black - like they do on "House" - then, hey, no nastygrams.

But if you (general you, not you personally) are intent on making excuses for not writing non-white characters, expect a good deal of criticism.

Posted by: To TimJ | July 17, 2006 11:44 AM

people watch what they want to see, color or not. If the show is good, skin color takes a back seat.

On another note, how does George Lopez still have a show?

Posted by: in the end | July 17, 2006 11:50 AM

Why isn't there any criticism of BET? That's not exactly colorblind television. Or is it that only whites are subject to criticism?

Posted by: stegman | July 17, 2006 11:55 AM

Funny. I recently saw a profile of Shonda Rhymes, the creator of the smash hit Grey's Anatomy. She said that when she wrote that show she wrote the characters color blind. But she made sure when it was cast that there was ample representation of people of color. If Crane wanted color in the show , he would have insisted that there be color in the show. I'd have more respect for him if he was just honest about it. I'll bet the only black person that was in the room when this "Friends Deux" was being created was the black guy who delivers the mail to all of the offices in Crane's production company.

Posted by: Stewart | July 17, 2006 12:03 PM

The other point is that, in my observation, unless it's in an enforced setting such as a workplace or school, there is very little racial mixing socially. Even if it's a mixed race groups after awhile, the blacks, whites, hispanics and asians are hangin' with their respective groups.

Posted by: Stick | July 17, 2006 12:04 PM

Funny thing: I was at my girfriends house this weekend and she has a cable service that supplies her with over 200 stations for viewing..so I took the remote and just
scanned thru each channel on the service.
So I started a little mental survey of what I was seeing, what I found was:

95% of the people you on televsion are
White Caucasian

4% are Black & most of those are either
sports related or comedies.

1% are hispanic or eurasian.

So it shouldnt be to surprising about another show with a all white cast, it's pretty much the status quo. Hiring for television in inherently racist and tilted
toward white performers for a predominately white audience.

Posted by: Cassini | July 17, 2006 12:08 PM

Stegman, there is a channel for you: it's called "Every Other Channel BUT BET", so hush.

Second, no one in Hollywood has a clue how to develop a multifaceted African American character. I am so tired of the stereotypical character development. When I DO see a show with an intelligent Black person, it's usually a male. It bothers me that there are soooooo few smart, witty, and riveting non-"you go, girlfriend" African American women on TV! I can think of a few shows("Without a Trace" for example), but I feel it does such an injustice to those African American women such as myself who speak with proper grammar, free of slang and "ebonics". It's obvious that the idea of who an African American woman is to the rest of America comes from them watching rap videos.

Posted by: ChickieBaby | July 17, 2006 12:12 PM

You'd think CBS's advertisers would say something. I've heard that a mixed cast attracts a mixed audience thus a larger audience. Examples: Grey's Anatomy or ER in its early years. Otherwise, you get audiences watching mostly shows in which they see themselves -- segregated television.

Posted by: shadesofgrey | July 17, 2006 12:25 PM

I never watched "Friends" and I will not watch this program. I find myself watching more News programing HBO,Sho,cinemax than broadcast TV. If I don't see myself or things that interest me I don't watch! I feel this guy is just not telling the truth...

Posted by: QuietStormX | July 17, 2006 12:39 PM

First off, it's true that Hollywood can't write great African-American characters. The further truth is that with the exception of a handful of writers, Hollywood can't write real characters, period. The creative bankruptcy in Hollywood goes far beyond minority casting. I have long believed that Hollywood's insular, good ol' boys club will destroy the system it is designed to protect.

As for minority casting itself, well I think the results speak for themselves. Even two of the biggest movie blockbusters of the summer, "Pirates of the Carribbean" and "Superman Returns", lacked people of color in its main cast. In the case of "Superman Returns", there were exactly three black actors in the whole film, none of them had speaking parts, and all of them were in the background. Television is not that far off, though it should be noted that some of the most popular shows today have a fairly diverse cast ("CSI", "Grey's Anatomy", "Lost", and even "24"). Regardless, I think the state of affairs is an absolute abhomination in this day and age.

Posted by: JustAnotherWriter | July 17, 2006 12:42 PM

The fact of the matter is US TV Shows like US movies are made for worldwide distribution. The world still thinks of a America as a White Naiton made up of Europeans. As matter of business decision making the greedy and unimaginative types don't want to break a proven business model. Somehow I think a jew with 50% european genes or more will be amongst the cast just like in friends. Maybe if a Black with 95% white genes could get into the cast it would work. The powers that be want the preception homogenity. Sounds like some nut bucket plan from the last century.

Posted by: Joe Realist | July 17, 2006 12:46 PM

The best comment I've heard about casting constraints came from S. Epatha Merkerson, who plays Lt. Van Buren on the original Law & Order and who won an Emmy starring in the HBO film Lackawanna Blues. When asked if her higher profile had resulted in more offers coming in, she laughed loudly and told her interviewer, "I'm a woman, I'm over 50 and I'm Black. So what do you think?"

Posted by: Jack | July 17, 2006 12:49 PM

Why were there no Whites in the Wiz?

Posted by: Huntley | July 17, 2006 1:15 PM

How hard can this casting thing possibly be? I mean just watch the commericals (it's most of the time anyway). They don't seem to find it all that difficult to cast across ethnicities. Maybe Coke, Nike, and P&G exes should be doing the casting.

Posted by: who watches tv? | July 17, 2006 1:16 PM

The mega TV shows, and obviously this tired old trite regurgiatation of Friends is aspiring to be one, have for the most part not had mixed race casts: Cheers, the Cosby Show, Seinfeld, Frazier and Friends come to mind. Obviously, shows that aspire and have a reasonable chance to attain that level of popularity will follow whatever formula returned past success. It is a business...not a referendum on affirmative action and most people's inner circle of freinds tend to appear the same; orginiate from the same socio-economic class, share similar views originating from similar backgorunds and experiences. When I watched Martin, Fresh Prince, Bernie Mac, etc., the last thing I expect to see is an infusion of white guys as major charcters. You can only suspend so much disbelief.

Posted by: Just an Observation | July 17, 2006 1:17 PM

Wait, I take that back--I expect to see an infusion of white guys who are stiff, unable to dance, talk in a nasely tone and just "don't get it." aka comic foils; but who cares? it is pretty funny, nevertheless.

Posted by: Just an Observation | July 17, 2006 1:22 PM

Huntley asks, "Why were there no whites in the Wiz?" Because you fat white people can't dance.

Posted by: Fred | July 17, 2006 1:31 PM

The article vents outrage that a group constituting only 14% of US population is not represented. Funny that no one brings up the over presence of Jews in "Friends." Does political correctness require the reviewer to assume that everybody who is not black fits into the category of white.

I'd say many TV viewers are tired of affirmative action being shoved down their throats. It's bad enought to have endure it in the workplace. But at home before the set, too! No way.

Posted by: Terry | July 17, 2006 1:43 PM

The comment about the "little racial mixing" outside of forced interaction settings such as work or school, is a pretty poor explanation for the absence of minorities on American television; not to mention a very biased view on the state of racial interaction in our country. Just because one's life experience has been that people tend to group off according to their nationality doesn't mean that it is a universal truth. I have friends of all nationalities and I do not think that it is a general rule that people associate outside of the workplace/school with only people of their own race. It IS fair however, to say that people tend to spend more time with those that share their culture and it is also fair to say that people of all races are born in this country everyday and grow up sharing the same culture, thus televisionn shows and movies depicting a 95% white cast are not relfective of real life senarios. The problem starts with the people in charge of these networks and the people in charge of casting but all in all the makeup of Hollywood is sadly reflective of our uber race conscious society and the racial hierarchy that exists in every aspect of our lives. This is an issue that will take many years of reform and struggle to remedy and until people of different nationalities get to the top of these companies the media, and the images it puts out, will continue to be dominated by White Americans.
P.S.
As an Asian-American I find it appalling the way in which Asians are portrayed by the media, such as the emasculation of the Asian male, and the way in which the racial issues surrounding the movie industry are presented so dichotomously (black v. white) when really it is a much bigger issue, encompassing the many races that make up this nation.

Posted by: Michelle | July 17, 2006 1:45 PM

ChickieBaby wrote:
'Stegman, there is a channel for you: it's called "Every Other Channel BUT BET", so hush.'

Oh, so it'd be ok if someone launched the "White Entertainment Network?". With programming, cast, and content exclusively comprised of and tailored to European Americans?

You can't have it both ways.

Posted by: Shades of Gray | July 17, 2006 1:51 PM

I remember watching ER when it came on in college. Now, I am a caucasian female, but one of the guys in my dorm-- an Indian -American--remarked that he just couldn't comprehend a hospital show without any Indians as main characters. Of course, ER amended that...8 years later! But I've paid careful attention to med shows ever since. Talk about a underrepresented minority. Indian doctors are everywhere...except TV. And I know this doesn't follow in the heels of the rest of these comments, but FWIW...

Posted by: Jen | July 17, 2006 1:52 PM

Anyway you slice it its AA for Hollywood, which is kind of funny b/c usually they are the last people that need to scolded for not being PC enough. Does BET get chastisted for not having whites on their channel? How about the Spanish-language channels? Will they ever have a black latino that plays something other than a maid?? Talk about needing to get over yourselves.

Posted by: burbworks | July 17, 2006 1:52 PM

To the person who noted that people of different races mixing is rare, I say not as much as you might think. On Friday I went to happy hour with two Caucasion, an African-American, and a Korean-American friend. That isn't rare for me, or for a large number of people outside of Hollywood, and it makes perfect sense for a TV show set in Philly of all places! If it didn't happen, they just didn't try.

Posted by: sixy | July 17, 2006 1:55 PM

Why were there no Whites in the Wiz?
Posted by: Huntley | July 17, 2006 01:15 PM

Well...why were there no Blacks in the Wizard of Oz?

Posted by: Matt | July 17, 2006 1:55 PM

I never watched Friends for this very reason. It is incredulous that anyone thinks that this is okay. Blacks and other minorities should not only boycott this show, but also the network that it plays on.

Posted by: Derek | July 17, 2006 1:57 PM

Talk about NOT GETTING IT!
Let me help you all understand:

1. We are NOT ALL THE SAME.

2. We ARE DIFFERENT.

3. Learn to like and maybe even love yourself and quit your winning!

4. Slavery ended along time ago. Give up the RACE CARD and get on with your, yo, yer own life.

5. Most importantly, if you were born in America....you are an American. Period.
If you want to be African.......go to Africa. There's plenty of opportunity there. Likewise if you want to be Mexican, Latino, Asian or any thing else go to your so-loved homeland and be that. We won't miss you or your winning!

Posted by: olderandwiser | July 17, 2006 2:07 PM

The Cosby show had a predominantly but not 100% black cast. There were plenty of episodes featuring Latin, mixed race, and other racial actors. Dr. Huxtable was showing attending to women of all races whenever he WAS shown in the office.
The Rec center episodes weren't all black either.

And I think that idea about races sticking to their own is only true in large social gatherings where they may not be with their closest friends. I did the same as a minority in my school.

I have mixed race couples in my family. Trust me, the idea that races stick together is becoming old-fashioned among the younger generation.

I think it was a very valid objection to say that a given HS class is unlikely to be homogenous, especially if it's supposedly located on either coasts rather than the Midwest.

I have good friends of other races and religions. I do agree that there is a prevalence of stereotyping on TV and lack of creative storylines.

If I had a cent for every black or hispanic character that was a drug pusher etc. that showed up on the law and order shows or ER, I'd have a nice bundle of money.
I get pretty sick of it, too.


Posted by: Clique-Clique | July 17, 2006 2:09 PM

Well if the back story is that the characters have all known each other since 3rd grade, it seems logical that they all grew up in the same neighborhood. And for the most part, most American neighborhoods remain largely segregated. It's supposed to be a reunion, not a gathering of people that met in young adulthood.

Posted by: Roo Roo | July 17, 2006 2:09 PM

Olderandwiser, why don't you go back to Europe and share your attitude around?

Posted by: Clique-Clique | July 17, 2006 2:11 PM

Great writing transcends any kind of racial stereotyping - whether it be television shows like "The Sopranos" or "Sex & The City" or "Grey's Anatomy" or "Law & Order." The problem is, there's not enough good writing in Hollywood and there certainly isn't enough good roles for actors and actresses of all ethnicities. That's my take...

Posted by: Sofa King | July 17, 2006 2:14 PM

In 3rd grade, I was taught by a black teacher, and I had a pretty diverse class too, and even outside that class I knew kids of all backgrounds.

Even less than 1/4 miles around my apt we have kids of all races and religions.

URBAN environments are very different from small town environments, and if the school is good enough you can bet on as diverse an academic population as possible, given the socioeconomical climate. People move so their kids can have a good start in life.

"Everybody hates Chris" has Chris going to an nearly all-white private school cuz his mom wanted a better life for him.

Posted by: Clique-clique | July 17, 2006 2:17 PM

Law and order does have its share of racial stereotyping for some of its stories... but I do agree that at least the main characters are not stereotyped.

Posted by: Clique-Clique | July 17, 2006 2:18 PM

Whine, whine, whine. You can't see a commercial on TV that has more than three men, but one is black. This are shown as in every type of situation, whether it is a normal every day situation or not. Real life is not portrayed Also, a black man and a white woman. What is the agenda here?

Posted by: Richard Forrester | July 17, 2006 2:19 PM

Yo olderandwiser - I think you meant 'whining', not 'winning'. Learn to spell!

I think that Crane's excuse *was* pretty lame. And I don't understand the comment earlier about network tv 'shoving diversity down [your] throat'. It's called 'changing the channel'. Last I heard, no network had the right to force you to sit in front of the tv with a show on you don't like. Der!

Posted by: younger | July 17, 2006 2:20 PM

Excuses like the casters used to work a century ago, but nowadays, most of us live and work in multi-ethnic multi-racial communities, so excuses don't cut it any more.

There's a reason why so many of us love Lost and Grey's Anatomy - they look like the world we live in, not the fake ultra-rich-whites world that DC and CEOs that steal from us live in.

Posted by: Will in Seattle | July 17, 2006 2:21 PM

3. Learn to like and maybe even love yourself and quit your winning!

To "olderandwiser": older - probably; wiser - not so much. It's "whining" sweetheart, not
"winning."

Posted by: just-chiming-in | July 17, 2006 2:24 PM

Ditto to Will in Seattle.

Posted by: Clique-Clique | July 17, 2006 2:27 PM

Crane's excuse is that, an exucse...he thinks diversity doesn't sell and he is wrong. I won't even get into the lack of gay characters (not stereotypes...just regular people) on network TV.

Posted by: JMight | July 17, 2006 2:30 PM

4. Slavery ended along time ago. Give up the RACE CARD and get on with your, yo, yer own life.

Wow, I just have to say it is ignorance such as this that is the root of all the racial issues in this country. And I agree with "younger" that olderandwiser really needs to learn how to spell. Why don't you go back to where YOUR ancestors came from because I assure you no one will miss racist comments such as that. Don't try to make fun of the way others talk "yo, yer" if you can't even spell "whining" right.

Posted by: Haha | July 17, 2006 2:30 PM

Hey olderandwiser.....chill out. I don't recall anyone on the string talking about reparations. I do find it funny that on the one hand you say slavery is over and yet your, yo, yer e-mail has racial undertones. Not Ha-ha funny, but hmmmmm....funny. From a business standpoint, if Hollywood producers want to ignore a growing multi-cultural market, then they have no one to blame but themselves when their shows get cancelled for low ratings. Another bad show bites the dust....

Posted by: brianW | July 17, 2006 2:37 PM

I always thought it was funny when Will Smith would show up with a white friend in some of the Fresh Prince epsiodes. Cause, who was that guy?

Posted by: pete | July 17, 2006 2:37 PM

========================
never watched Friends for this very reason. It is incredulous that anyone thinks that this is okay. Blacks and other minorities should not only boycott this show, but also the network that it plays on.
=============================


good for you, really,really good for you!

"I won't watch a television show full of white people!!! AND THEY ARE THE RACISTS!"

imbeciles ...

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2006 2:38 PM

There is a white entertainment channel.. its called every channel on the air.

Posted by: cdanny | July 17, 2006 2:52 PM

Hey Joe Realist,

I learned a long time ago that if I wanted to be able to fight any sort of prejudice in the world that befalls me, I could only do it if I learned to respect others as well. I cannot advance my fight against prejudice by attacking another easily identifiable group. By attacking Jews, you make your goals less honest. The world will only be more tolerant when we're tolerant of EVERYONE, not of one particular segmented group at a time. Blacks, Hispanics, Jews, etc - what's the difference? All of our causes would be better fulfilled by working together, not pushing one another down in a rat race. Other posters make fair and objective points about the inane nature of "blind-casting," but you just took two steps backwards for them.

Posted by: Are you kidding? | July 17, 2006 2:58 PM

Hey lets get real .
there are plenty of black shows that have either no whites or they have one or two token whites , they are portrayed as stupid.

how many asian's hispanics do u see on shows like girlfriends, bernie mac, and the numerous black shows on the UB

if you are going to criticzise the all white shows then be fair and do the same to the all black shows.

Posted by: steve | July 17, 2006 3:00 PM

Word, Are you kidding. How the hell is blaming it all on 'the jews' any different than blaming it on 'the blacks' or 'the hispanics'?? Answer: it's not, and you're just as bad as any 'good old boy' who runs network tv.

Posted by: younger | July 17, 2006 3:01 PM

I do not find myself in very many situations that are racially homogeneous whether I'm at work, on the street, at a bar, or in a social setting.

This is the reality of younger, urban generations. Which, coincidentally, are the most common communities shown on network tv.

TV execs and writers can try to avoid the inevitable and stick to their all-white guns. The rest of us will continue to live in a more diverse reality and we await the day this is better-reflected on tv.

'Friends' was boring for a lot of reasons. One of which was the lack of diversity of race, culture or personality in the main characters. Could you imagine if 'Lost' (one of my favorites) featured all white middle class characters? Ugh. It would be bland.

Posted by: Washingtonian in Brooklyn | July 17, 2006 3:15 PM

Wow, Joe Realist. You're the biggest bigot on the blog here. I assume "Viva la Raza" is also a dig, or are you latino?

As a latino jew with no connections to Hollywood, you need to rethink your own stereotypes before blathering.

Posted by: michaelben | July 17, 2006 3:17 PM

Let the viewers decide what sort of racial characters they want.

TV shows exist to get ratings so they can sell advertising. If more colored characters are needed to sell products then they will be added. On the other hand, if white viewers prefer white programs and that sells more products, that formula could work too.

Most of my Asian friends have satellite programming from their own country and prefer that to American shows. They don't seem to care much about mainstream shows in the U.S. markets.

Posted by: Consumer Choice | July 17, 2006 3:28 PM

If you live near the city, don't you get enough diversity every day? At least we can come home to TV and see people who think, feel, and look like us.

Please don't force TV to become part of the same diversity dystopia. No one wants this forced on them as the phenomenon of white flight aptly demonstrates.

Posted by: Unity not diversity | July 17, 2006 3:31 PM

Honestly, I wouldn't watch a show that added a mediocre minority actor/actress for the sole reason of adding some color to the cast. It appears that the actors and actresses on this were given their respective roles because they fit them perfectly; giving the role instead to someone who might not fit the part, but fits the race would just detract from the show's quality overall.

Besides, I find this uproar silly in an age where popular TV shows like Lost, Desperate Housewives, and Grey's Anatomy have some of the most diverse casts I've ever seen.

Posted by: Kem | July 17, 2006 3:31 PM

Stegman,

Your comments have, at their heart, an indifference that is troubling. I say troubling because they reflect a simplicity, a lack of interest, and a lack of detail that prevents you from appearing to be as intelligent as someone told you that you were. Yet, you speak out as though you are an authority, informed, or at the very least, attentive. To help your learning curve, I offer you the following:

BET is a cable-network, founded by an African-American man, to provide an entertainment outlet for an African-American audience. BET's success lies in the fact that it has an audience that is over 95% African-American, and largely ignored elsewhere. BET also produces no original network television shows (video shows and Comic View do not count). BET has always used syndicated programs to fill its time slots, even when those shows were over twenty-five years old. In other words, BET has only put on what has already been successful with its core audience.

This is very different from your major networks on "free-television" which claim to offer diverse programming for all of its viewers. Networks have a head count of ethnicity in programming, in their non-sports shows, and in their news anchor positions. Who was the last fully-developed African-American figure you saw in a television show. The focus of these network shows tends to be suburban and overwhelmingly white. Let's look at the domiciles of most of the decision maker for the network shows. The writers tend to be suburban, white, and culturally homogeneous. The same can be said for the casting directors, producers and network executives that the shows are pitched to. In other words, Hollywood has presented itself as an inclusive entity. The reality is that it is often an exclusive entity with an all-or-none deal in presenting central characters of color. That decision often centers from the issue of control and who has it.

The bottom line is that much of television, and America, is a WASP pep rally. Why are the same handful of African-American faces in movies and on television? Those are the only faces that those casting directors and studios have seen to be able to appreciate the POSSIBILITY that a person of color can do this role as well as the other person who I had envisioned in this role. African-Americans have a handful of opportunities in this country and are working diligently to expand the number and types of those opportunities. Yet, with each step, African-Americans are met with the expectation that they are the stereotype, not the person who is the exception to that stereotype. Each day, African-Americans are challenged with creating the window of opportunity to show that the stereotype does not apply to them, as individuals. Think about the current images of Muslims and persons of Middle Eastern decent you see today. Scary, suspicious, selectively-religious, weapons-toting, and terroristic are words that come to my mind.

Why, then, are "open-minded" individuals like yourself so sarcastic about crumbs of stereotypical images that persons of color have available to them from broadcasters. There are less than 20 hours of African-American character themed shows on network television out of over 672 hours of network television programming. Prior to the Cosby Show, African-Americans had never controlled the images that they see of themselves on television. Anglos made those decisions for all of us, whether White, Black, Brown, or Yellow. There have been very few television shows that showed African-Americans in a positive, intelligent and diverse light. On the news, African-Americans are depicted as being more predisposed towards crime, drugs, public assistance, illiteracy, unemployment, and sexual prowess. Shows like COPS make their ratings on the backs of African-American suspects. Imagine if every television that you saw portrayed Archie Bunker-type images of European-Americans. Would that be a fair and honest depiction of your family, your background, your interests, or your abilities? No. Yet, African Americans are forced fed depictions of stereotype after stereotype. There are no negative images of Whites on successful TV shows so there is still going to be an apples and oranges discussion.

We have to have characters before we can have major characters. We have to have major characters before we can have shows. We have to have shows before we can have networks. So it take time for us to go from Julia to Sanford & Son. From The Jeffersons to the Cosby show. From the Flip Wilson show to In Living Color. From What's Happening!! to Martin. From Good Times to the Bernie Mac Show/The Hughleys/ or My Wife and Kids. And all too often, once the show has a little success and has good ratings, it is sacrificed for the success of a new, unproven White show, via the mid-season new day-new time shell game.

Finally, the mega-successful "Friends" was based upon a concept that had been shopped around by an African-America executive producer Yvette Lee-Bowser to each of the 3 major networks. The upstart FOX network bought in and in 1993 Living Single was on air. Network executives at NBC, one year later, NBC aired the first episode of "Friends". You may ask, why didn't "Living Single" land on NBC in the first place. The answer: network executives wanted to diversify the cast and have, at least a few white main characters. Ms. Lee-Bowser refused to agree to the changes and insisted on presenting the show as she envisioned it. It ran for 5 years on Fox. Ms. Lee-Bowser received an opportunity to have her show on television in 1993. Has another person of color had that opportunity with FOX since FOX established itself as an NFL network?

FOX, UPN, and the WB all used African-American-themed shows to establish a viewer base. Once the network's viewership reached a certain level, each of these networks largely abandoned the shows and the audience that helped to propel them into their position of prominence.

It is harder to ridicule someone who you see in the way you see yourself. It is harder to speak down to person who you identify with. Persons of color continue to be the backbone of this country's workforce. The people who benefit from this workforce are Anglo. Slavery may be illegal, but the vestiges of slavery still exist. Hollywood is the propaganda machine of either the status quo or of change. What does the empirical evidence suggest that it is to you?

Posted by: Subtle Thoughts | July 17, 2006 3:32 PM

To whatever poster said that neighborhoods are still not ethnically diverse or whatever - Crane's show is about a group of 20-somethings. Philly is a major metropolitan area. It's way more likely that these characters went to a culturally diverse school rather than a mostly white one, and, speaking as someone who a) went to school around DC, b) had friends of all backgrounds, c) is a 20-something, and d) isn't white, it's not unlikely that they could have had a diverse group of friends.

There's absolutely no reason for the cast to be all-white. Given the age group and geographic location, it's downright bizarre that they're all white.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2006 3:35 PM

Good comedy contains a kernel of truth. A comedy about a group of close friends of the same race is funnier because it's more realistic. There's nothing racist about it. A comedy set in a completely unlikely social setting will feel forced. You want a variety of races in a cast? Fine. There's tons of material out there about cultures colliding at work or school or some other place where it routinely happens in life. You can't laugh without black people in the cast? Change the channel.

Posted by: So what's the problem? | July 17, 2006 3:37 PM

I didn't read all the comments. But the one's I did, and the article, read like this: blah blah blah. Figure it out people, 95% of the people in this country are white. They want to watch white people on TV. They don't want to watch poorly written shows that have things they don't know about. I don't feel that I need to explain this further.

Posted by: The real truth. | July 17, 2006 3:37 PM

Um, to "The Real Truth": really? 95% is the number you're going with? I feel like you might need to explain further. Like, where was it that you learned to count exactly?

Posted by: Are you kidding? | July 17, 2006 3:39 PM

"Why isn't there any criticism of BET? That's not exactly colorblind television. Or is it that only whites are subject to criticism?"


Response:
If there were more shows that had a greater mix of people there would be no need for BET. (Not that I'm a fan of BET)

Posted by: For Stegman | July 17, 2006 3:40 PM

Integration is a luxury that few of us really enjoy. I went to dinner last night---a local DC place (DC, 60% black)---and there was one African American there.

Also, went to highschool about 15 miles from Compton, LA. There were 2 blacks in my graduating class.

Doesn't TV, no matter how wrong, relfect how many of us live?

Posted by: michaelben | July 17, 2006 3:40 PM

To 'unity not diversity' - I can't say it too many times - if you don't like it change the channel, change the channel, change the channel. And anyways, the notion that netword tv is 'forcing diversity' on you is ridiculous. Minorities *are* underrepresented on network tv. That's just a fact. When I metro to work everyday, the train is more diverse than most anything you see on tv. Maybe the WMATA is forcing diversity on you more than network tv! And no, I'm not a minority - I'm white.

Posted by: younger | July 17, 2006 3:41 PM

You people make me sick. As a black woman (not "black chick" or "black girl" it is long past time for these lame excuses. No wonder no Black, Hispanic or thinking and/or reasonably intelligent person of color watched your program. You people are sickening and its the reason cable is beating out the networks. You and your ilk are all ignorant, illiterate and brain-dead. Your idea of the black experience is probably having a black friend. Welcome to the 21st century.

P.S. I and none of my buddies will be watching your mess.

Posted by: Phyllis Hawkins | July 17, 2006 3:55 PM

Well, not to offend anyone, but this is a joke, right? SO WHAT if there's a show about 8 white friends? What kind of mindless dolt thinks 'real racial demographic representation' is something we should all be concerned with? Jesus, get a life instead of running around looking desperately for something to be offended by so you can then be the center of attention. Read a damned book if you are 'upset' by the racial makeup of a sitcom on tv.

Posted by: Carl Swanson | July 17, 2006 4:05 PM

I really don't understand the "America, love it or leave it" attitude to television. If you don't like it, change the channel?

Network television belongs to all of us (it's federally regulated via our tax dollars) and we have every right to criticize and demand better.

Those who feel the same should write to their networks AND vote with their dollars. If you want change, you need to make it happen. What diversity there is on television didn't just spring from the goodness of network executives' hearts.

Posted by: mizbinkley | July 17, 2006 4:11 PM

There's all this chatter about the 'fact' that BET is the only show that has black characters and that the other 200+ channels show 'only' whites, and that schools today are more diverse than are reflected on TV. If you have kids and get stuck watching the disney or nickelodeon sitcoms on these days, they're sure hiring diverse casts. "Unfabulous" stars a white girl whose two best friends are a Chinese-American Indian girl and a black guy. On "That's So Raven" the star is black and her best friend is white. My young nieces' favorite show is "Dora The Explorer" and they're learning Spanish as fast as they can, and loving it. You know what? That's great. Here's to hoping the next generation really doesn't give a damn about these distinctions (and so doesn't have to deal with them). We'll all be better off.

Posted by: it's not all that bad | July 17, 2006 4:18 PM

olderandstillwiser:
Wise people generally do not need to trumpet their own wisdom. The fact that you feel inclined to do so shows how little wisdom you possess. And trivializing the education (i.e. the ability to spell) of others does not in any way detract from your ignorance...or your arrogance. It is easy to hide behind the anonymity of the internet and hurl insults at others isn't it? You pathetic little miscreant.

Posted by: RFD3 | July 17, 2006 4:21 PM

>

Hillarious Chickiebaby!

Personally, I think most sitcoms, whether on NBC, CBS, or WB are pretty much lame. "The Office" and "My Name is Earl" do not get the recognition they deserve because both break the pattern of audience/canned laughter. It seems that we have such little clue as to what is funny that we need to be "told" when to laugh.

I would rather see more minority characters in smart edgy dramas as there are plenty who have already played the fool in sitcoms.

What television execs have to realize is that minority households tend not to have cable and rely on broadcast networks for entertainment. I wonder if they even think about that?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2006 4:22 PM

Wow, that just blew me away. I couldn't have said it better myself. :)

It makes me very happy to see someone present actual facts and not ignorant rantings!

Posted by: To Subtle Thoughts | July 17, 2006 4:23 PM

Maybe if a Black with 95% white genes could get into the cast it would work.

Uh Joe Realist, if a Black person has 95% white genes (whatever the hell that means) how are they black? Got news for you, there are a whole lot of white folks walking around with a little "soul" in their souls.

Posted by: Iraqi Vet | July 17, 2006 4:26 PM

If you want to be African.......go to Africa. There's plenty of opportunity there. Likewise if you want to be Mexican, Latino, Asian or any thing else go to your so-loved homeland and be that. We won't miss you or your winning!>>

So old and wiser (Which I doubt) Are you saying we can now drop St. Patrick's Day and Columbus Day since we should all be just "Americans?" Perhaps you ought to go back to where you came from and stop your "Whinning."


Posted by: Iraqi Vet | July 17, 2006 4:30 PM

Oh, so it'd be ok if someone launched the "White Entertainment Network?". >>

Take your pick, NBC, ABC, CBS. I love when white supremists try to justify their ignorance.

Posted by: Iraqi Vet | July 17, 2006 4:32 PM

All you rednecks on here need to calm down. No one is talking about putting black people or other minorities on every show. No one is going to take you away from your fantasy world such as an All-white NYC. They are simply wondering why in 2006 the major networks still do not have major characters in sitcoms who are not white? So stop playing the race card would you? You are in no threat of not seeing white folks on the TV anytime soon.

Posted by: Iraqi Vet | July 17, 2006 4:38 PM

My comment a while ago came out very wrong about the Wiz, What I was saying when I accidently hit the submit button is that the Producers, Backers, and directors were mostly Black and therefore created a show that had all black actors, If a White director would have made the same show it would have been a big flop for Black and White audiences, So where are the Black backers that will hire a Black director and Create a show With Black actors?

Posted by: Huntley | July 17, 2006 4:41 PM

Lordy, this is depressing.

Not the article: the comments.


I'm a middle-aged white woman--old enough, that is, to remember the way things were before the civil rights revolution--and every time I start to feel just a little bit optimistic that maybe this country has mostly grown up and abandoned its racist past, something like this brings the termites out of the woodwork.

Are there really that many white people still around who dislike black people, don't want to associate with them or even watch them on television, in a program or on a commercial? Is good old American racism really that alive and well?

Apparently so. Which kind of proves Lisa de Moraes's point that all this matters, doesn't it? And, incidentally, gives the lie to the naive and/or cynical argument of political conservatives that we're past all that, thank you very much.

If only.

So okay, forget "The Class." Just knowing it will give the aid and comfort to people who still think like my racist ancestors that these comments make clear it will is enough to make me turn away. But for a funny, charming, unstereotypical, and--incidentally, or maybe not--interracial friendship, check out "Psych," the new comedy on USA on Fridays at 10. It stars James Roday and Dule Hill, and unless you're a racist, it won't depress you.

Posted by: J.J. in Arlington | July 17, 2006 5:54 PM

If you ask most black people what consitutes a "diverse" group, they'll generally say 50/50 white/black.... basically equality.

Ask white people the same question and the diversity bar is usually set alot lower, requiring only 10-25% black or other minority (mimicing the general percentages in the overall population of America).

Obviously I'm generalizing but I think it's fair to say the perceptions of diversity are very different between blacks and whites.

I think of this when people single out BET amongst the 100's of other channels that are defacto white-themed, or when people complain about Feb. being black history month, when the rest of the curriculum is focused on dead white guys.

Then you look at a show like "Friends", with it's mythical version of New York where minorties are almost non-existant. You look at it's popularity and it makes you (well me) wonder, just how much the average white person really cares about diversity.

Posted by: Minority Opinion | July 17, 2006 6:00 PM

The "backers" in this case are the programming heads of the big 4 networks. All of whom act as gatekeepers and ultimate arbiters of what is and is not aired.

Fundamentally, Hollywood is creatively bankrupt on so many levels. Out of approximately 90 hours of primetime television per week, there really are only 5 or so hours of well-written, acted, and directed television. My four favorite shows ("Lost", "Grey's", "CSI", and "24") are all shining examples of diversity in casting. On basic cable, "Battlestar Galactica" is also fairly well written (though its Vancouver-based production looks cheesy, but that's another matter entirely) and also maintains a very diverse cast. I'm sure there are a couple more good examples here and there.

I guess what I'm saying is, there are only a handful of programs worth watching anyway (regardless of race). The ones that are any good are already possessing of diverse casts and talented multi-ethnic writing and production staffs.

Does this solve the bigger problem? No. There are precious few opportunities for minorities to break into Hollywood. There are also precious few opportunities for middle-aged white women, or elderly men, or the disabled, or any number of other types of people who don't fit into the anorexic, rail thin (usually blonde) men and women that strangle the airwaves with their cookie cutter appearance and bland talent.

You are all trying to apply logic to an industry that is creatively and morally bankrupt and which has become more of a marketing exercise than an artistic forum.

Posted by: JustAnotherWriter | July 17, 2006 6:07 PM

The early comment about "overrepresentation of Jews" on "Friends" really disturbed me. The show was set in NYC, where there is an enormous Jewish population. That said, the three Jewish characters only rarely referred to their heritage, which I always thought was a shame, and the lack of people of color was weird. You'd have to go out of your way to have only white friends in Manhattan and never hear word one about Jewish holidays.

Hollywood wants to create great entertainment. Well, chuck out some of the stale tv formulas, and then bring in a greater range of people in front and behind the cameras so we can get the best that's out there. I want to see more people of color, but also more blue collar people (my own background), more people with disabilities, more older women who aren't pushy mother stereotypes, and so on. That's when we'll get better characters and better shows that we'll all enjoy.

Posted by: TM | July 17, 2006 6:14 PM

Network programming belongs to the networks. They will show whatever brings in money and profit. If you don't like it, vote with your dollars and watch BET or Spanish language television.

You are of course free to voice inconsequential complaints.

No one is forcing you to watch TV.

Posted by: Pure Capitalism | July 17, 2006 6:31 PM

Jeez! After screening through all the racial ad hominem and ignorant comments, i need a shower! Anyway, Crane is totally ignorant: It would be extremely rare for a group of friends in their 20's (born in 1980's) in Philly to be all-white. I suspect it was marketing, Disney-style, that made the decision. There are plenty of attractive dark brown, brown, tan, yellow (and blue!)actors and actresses that could fill any "color-blind" role. Crane is the man looking for his keys under the lamp post--because that's only where he can see.

Posted by: sweetiepie | July 17, 2006 6:36 PM

As someone who has actually seen the pilot for this show -- I saw it as part of a focus group 2 or 3 weeks ago -- I want to make sure everyone knows what exactly the premise of this show is. This guy met his girlfriend when they were in the third grade and to celebrate the anniversary of that moment he tries to track down everyone who was in that third grade class. To be completely honest I didn't remember it being set in Philadelphia, it just seemed like the school was a really old building based on the 3rd grade class picture. That being said you can live in the city of Philadelphia and live in Roxborough or Northeast Philadelphia and grow up in an overwhelmingly white neighborhood and I see no problem, in terms of accuracy, with someone having virtually no classmates of color if they went to elemntary in a predominantly white neighborhood.

As for the social context, I think we need to step back for a second. Most neighborhoods in this country are not diverse socioeconomically or racial/ethinically. For every cross-cultural Adams-Morgan in this country, you hae three or more relatively homogenous Centrevilles. Likewise, the social racial divide in this country makes it a given that for every heterogeneous group of white straight man, asian straight woman, black straight woman, hispanic gay man, and Indian lesbian who go out for happy hour there are going to be two to three relatively homogenous groups doing the same thing.

Also, as for the percentages, so that we get this straight, according to the US Census Bureau as of July 1, 2005, the United States was approximately 67% White non-hispanic, 14% Hispanic, 12% Black non-hispanic, 4% Asian non-hispanic, 0.8% Native America/Alaskan Native, 0.3% Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, and 1.5% multi racial.

Posted by: Plunkster | July 17, 2006 7:00 PM

This might show my age, but I do remember what it was like to grow up during a time of very well written television shows (dramas and comedies). Take your pick from "Hill Street Blues" to "St. Elsewhere" (yes, Denzel Washington got his first start there) to "LA Law" to "Miami Vice" on almost any night of the week - all of which had diverse casting as well. Then you could also watch "The Cosby Show" and "Family Ties" and "Cheers" (all on NBC Thursday nights). In terms of quality television, I think the last great lineup of shows we'll ever see in a while was the "Friends", "Seinfeld", "Fraser" & "e.r." must-see-tv run on Thursday nights. Then again, none of those shows represented minorities very well (with the exception of "e.r.") at all.

Posted by: Old man winter...brrrrr | July 17, 2006 7:39 PM

Honestly, as a white guy, I have absolutely no interest watching a TV show with black people. So, more power to channels like BET, because if I were black, I wouldn't want to watch shows with nothing but white people.

Posted by: Fred | July 17, 2006 7:52 PM

To "Pure Capitalism": if you knew jack sh!t about jack sh!t, you'd know that network television in no way operates under free market rules. In the real world, for better or worse (I say worse), the nets use central planning to come up with their programming and lineups. The only programming that comes close to actual capitalism is the programming on PBS - supported by pledge drives, so they know which programs their viewers want - and even that's not truly a capitalist operation.

To everyone saying, "Well, a lot of America is white": come on. It's Philadelphia. We can't see even one main character who's not of European descent? Even a little bit? With 33% of the US population being not white, don't you think, maybe, we could have one or two people of color on network sitcoms? They don't have to be black. They could be Asian. Or Hispanic. Or mixed. Maybe they could be Native American.

The only thing I can think of is a lot of you white people (but not all - I'm not trying to stereotype here) would feel uncomfortable laughing at people of color. Is that it? Is it some weird, misplaced guilt that's subconsciously influencing your perceived ennui regarding minorities in sitcoms? Because you don't seem to mind minorities in dramas, where you're less likely to be laughing at a character. Lost, GA, House, the CSIs, and the Laws & Orders all have non-white main characters, and they're all top-rated shows. Maybe you just don't want to *laugh* at us, because you'd feel bad? If so, stop that. If Bernie Mac says something funny and you laugh, that does not immediately make you a racist.

I agree with the poster who recommended Psych on USA. It's not the best written show ever, but it's cute and funny, and Dule Hill, once again, does not play a stereotypical black man.

Posted by: not whitey | July 17, 2006 8:11 PM

Wow- you know you've done something right when you write 20 words and get an essay in response.

A quick rebuttal to "Subtle Thoughts"-

You are either kidding or insane when you state that the only images of blacks on TV are negative. I don't think it's even been legal to have a bad guy who's black since the early 90s.

Much like how (without fail) it's the man who is cast as the buffoon in every commercial these days (and is pointed in the right direction by his understanding, superior wife), it is Whites who are cast as the villains. I'm not saying every white person on TV or in the movies is cast as a bad guy, but every bad guy is white. I defy you to show me one movie with a non-white bad guy. It is politically IMPOSSIBLE in the entertainment world to have a good white guy go up against a bad black guy (or hispanic or arab). They still might let an asian be the bad guy, but that's only because they commit so little crime in real life that they're not "reinforcing stereotypes." Hell, the Washington Post can barely (if at all) bring itself to admit the race of a criminal when they're not white.

'Nuff Said.

Posted by: stegman | July 17, 2006 8:54 PM

Seems like there are a lot of shows with characters played by black actors on TV. Lost, The Office, 24 , CSI, Law & Order, King of Queens, etc... So some shows only have white people. Big deal. We have advanced far enough along where we don't need to count how many black people are on network TV shows. Anyway, I prefer how black people are portrayed on major networks (e.g., president of the US on 24) to how they are portrayed on BET (e.g., black rapper in his lamborgini pouring champagne on black strippers). It's shameful.

Posted by: Cliff | July 17, 2006 9:58 PM

Stegman says: "I defy you to show me one movie with a non-white bad guy."

True Lies (1994)
Rules of Engagement (2000)
The Seige (1998)

That's three movies, two of which were in the past ten years, all three of which were prior to 9/11, where the bad guys were Arabs. If you need more, I'm sure others can come up with some.

I believe the proper term for what I just did to you is "pwned" (spelling intentional).

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2006 10:00 PM

This is all so sad. Crane's lying, racist, lame ass excuse and these ignorant defend-the- white-man and angry-help-us- cause-we-can't-do -it-ourselves black postings.

When are we all gonna get over this crap?

Posted by: mongo | July 17, 2006 11:34 PM

I never watched "Friends" because of its smugness, and I'm sure this will be more of the same (although Philadelphia is inherently less smug than Manhattan). The sitcom genre is in big trouble, as there hasn't been a really good one since "Frasier" bid adieu, although "King of Queens" has its moments. (And while some of the newer sitcoms are okay, their holier-than-thou attitude about not filming before a live audience doesn't help.)

As someone who went to college with future "Seinfeld" scribe Peter Mehlman and knows Laura Prepon, late of "That '70s Show," and her family, it's frustrating to see sitcoms at their lowest point since Fred Silverman nearly drove NBC into the ground in the early eighties.

Posted by: Vincent | July 18, 2006 12:37 AM

America MUST deal with the race issue for it to become a non-issue. It's a cancer that continues to infect the nation. That's the reason why race holds that much influence/importance in the year 2006. Issues surrounding race have been swept under the rug (white guilt? political correctness?)

Racism is MORE subtle among gay/homosexual people. Though they preach 'tolerance', gay/homosexual people are more likely to judge a person BASED on their race.

Surely The Class could have added at least 1 non-caucasian person to the cast. C'mon, it's Philadelphia! Check out the city's lastest Census data: LOTS of non-caucasians in the city.

Though Everybody Loves Raymond consistently ranked in the top 15 of shows on netork tv (CBS, ABC, NBC, FOX, WB, UPN), it also consistently ranked in the 50's-70's among non-caucasian viewers. Why? 100% caucasian cast. The same goes for tv shows with a 100% African cast.

I don't like it when shows have a token anybody (insert any race) just cause they want to tap into that lone person's race group (ie. Alfre Woodard/Mehcad Brooks on Desperate Housewives etc)

There are quite a few complex, intelligent, realistic based roles for non-causcasians on daytime dramas this decade (As The World Turns; The Young & The Restless) & on countless primetime shows.

Why do many caucasian people complain that they can't use the N-word? That a net like BET exists? Just plain juvenille!

We're ALL guilty of keeping the issue of race alive and well. It's shameful & deeply concerning!

Posted by: Ben (gay & black) | July 18, 2006 5:12 AM

Grey's Anatomy has a diverse case?!! Give me a break. A bunch of white people, a handful of black people, and the one token Asian? Last I heard, there were more people of Hispanic descent in the US than any other non-white ethnicity. However, if we are going for realism here, what happened to all the Asian physicians? You ever been to a hospital in a major city and not seen like a million Asian physicians? Grey's Anatomy, House, ER, and all the other lame medical tv shows never really get it right, medically or realistically - gee, like this genius "House" guy who can't even use his cane properly, an "ER" in Chicago with like one Asian physician, or "Grey's Anatomy" as mentioned above.

Posted by: Hello Hello | July 18, 2006 7:09 AM

To: Ben (gay & black), re: "I don't like it when shows have a token anybody (insert any race) just cause they want to tap into that lone person's race group (ie. Alfre Woodard/Mehcad Brooks on Desperate Housewives etc)"

I originally though that about Desperate Housewives, too. Then I read that the parts were not originally written for black actors, but that Alfre Woodard was a fan of the show and they really liked her for the part. This might actually be a case of true color-blind casting.

To: not whitey, re: your comment that perhaps the lack of ethnically diverse sitcoms results in part from some sense of white guilt, some whites feeling perhaps laughing at a black comedian might make them racist.

I find that point really interesting, but I'm not sure my thoughts on it. Any other takers on that topic?

Posted by: mizbinkley | July 18, 2006 9:39 AM

I grew up in the DC area (Falls Church). My high school was at least 40% minority at the time. My AP classes were at least 50% Asian.

Currently I have friends of every 'race' (race is a social construct anyway, I don't really buy the concept) except Native American.

My workplace (in Tysons) has people of every race and nationality.

All-white TV shows don't look like reality to me. They don't look normal to me. Maybe if you set your show in some lily-white place like KANSAS or UTAH, it would have some bearing on reality, but you are setting it in NY or LA? COME ON, PEOPLE!

IMHO TV execs are crypto-racists.

Posted by: Blogchik | July 18, 2006 9:43 AM

Holy cow - guess this shows how to get people to read your blog. Mention race and, kablooey, the comments blow up!

Posted by: h3 | July 18, 2006 10:07 AM

hello, all. just wondering if you've seen any Indigenous Peoples ("Native Americans") on American TV lately? as a citizen of an Indigenous Nation in OK and as a citizen of the U.S., i keep hearing about this Black-White binary (along with occasional references to Latina/os and Asians that refute that binary), but Indigenes are still around, right? or am i the "last one"?! did everyone--except those fictional "texas cherokees" on the show Walker Texas Ranger--"vanish"?! i thought there are currently around 2-3 million self-identifying Indigenes on this land known primarily to mainstream audiences as the "United States."

you know, a bit challenging to be heard and to enter mainstream conversations when tv execs seemingly don't think about you or try to represent you and your Peoples in good ways at television networks that were built on Indigenous Peoples' lands ... sure, CBS has been talking about including Indigenous characters for a long time. for now, the closest they appear to get is having non-Native contestants on Survivor: Guatemala "play Indian" in made-in-China feathers. well, maybe www.rednation.com will become the www.aptn.ca (Aboriginal Peoples Television Network) of the "U.S." [and no, i am not employed by www.rednation.com.] ;)

with respect,

Indigenously Indigenous

Posted by: Indigenously Indigenous | July 18, 2006 10:28 AM

I think people should just stop complaining and put their money where their mouths are. If you don't like what's on television, don't watch it. Give it a "thumbs down" on your TiVo remote.

If you want diversity on television, create it yourself, or give your financial support to those who *do* create diversity.

You really can't blame the folks who create those homogenously white shows. These folks are predominantly white, so what do you expect them to create? People generally create what they know. Furthermore, to include non-white characters would put producers at risk of unintentionally portraying them in a way that might offend non-whites. So, to play it safe, they just write what they know.

There's also the perceived impact of diversity upon TV ratings/box office receipts and subsequently lower revenue. Now, it would be nice if David Crane were up front and honest about these fears. It wouldn't be so bad if we were to admit that the reason they chose another all-white cast is because such is a formula that works. And all they were doing was sticking with a profitable formula!

In any case, my recommendation to everyone is to vote with your dollars. If you don't approve of homogenous casting in the media, don't spend your money on it. Spend your hard earned bucks on diversity and keep it away from the homogenaeity of the Hollywood studios.

If I were a more radical person (which I am not), I might even suggest following the example of the Chinese: Not only do they create some fantastic cinema of their own, they keep money away from culturally ignorant Hollywood producers by flooding the market with pirated DVDs of Hollywood films!!! Needless to say, such piracy is illegal, and I am in no way suggesting that one promote such piracy. >-)

Posted by: soulsnax | August 12, 2006 9:19 AM

Does anyone here actually watch BET? Obviously not, if they did, they would see an overrepresentation of Whites, Latinos, and other minorities other than Blacks for a network claiming to be "Black Entertainment Television". Many of the cohosts, audience members, and video girls are blatantly not black...so save the "BET excludes argument" for someone who knows better.

It's funny, most so-called black tv shows manage to incorporate a white character(s) into their cast to please the majority..but no one calls that Affirmative Action. It never works that way when it favors whites, it's just called "being realistic" or "fair".

Posted by: Annie | September 3, 2006 6:31 PM

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