When it comes to television, over the last year, there have been strides made when it comes to having diverse stories told with diverse casts. We've all witnessed Shonda Rhimes' reign on ABC. Fox is still basking in its hit Empire. And back to ABC, which seems to understand diversity, Black-ish is still bringing in the ratings and award nominations. But there's one network out there that just doesn't seem to get it.
In the world of #OscarsSoWhite, one can say the same thing about CBS and its fall lineup. In the upcoming fall TV season, CBS' lineup is so white, even the president of the network is making excuses and apologizing for it. Six of the network's new fall shows are headlined by white male actors. And CBS President Glenn Gellar admitted to the lack-of-diversity faux pas.
“We’re very mindful at CBS about the importance of diversity and inclusion," Gellar said after reporters questioned the lack of diversity during the Television Critics Association press tour Wednesday, according to TVLine.
"We need to do better, and we know it,” Geller continued. “We are definitely less diverse this year than last year, and we need to do better.”
But if you know you need to do better, why wasn't anything done to change the lineup from the get-go?
You'd have to try really hard to convince me, a television writer, that there weren't options. I'm someone who has friends who are constantly attending pitch meetings with various networks, armed with ideas filled with diversity, so it looks to me as if Geller and his network failed big time.
But wait, there's more.
Geller did note that there are a few black sidekicks on some of these CBS shows, pointing out that 11 of the 16 new series regulars joining shows that already exist are female or minority actors. By "female," we're quite sure he means white women. Hooray for Katherine Heigl landing the only female-led show on CBS this fall.
Let the record show that there isn't a lack of diverse talent in Hollywood, especially when it comes to actors, and even people behind the scenes, like showrunners. There are a bunch of Rhimes-like hopefuls waiting for their big break. And Geller probably bypassed a lot of them.
"Sometimes our showrunners are diverse, sometimes they're not diverse," Geller said. "We pick up the best shows from the shows we make."
Don't fret, though.
CBS does have one show—which seems to be a midseason replacement for one of its lily-white shows that's guaranteed to fail—that includes some diversity. CBS' reboot of Training Day stars black actor Justin Cornwell. I'm probably not the only one wondering why it wasn't included in the fall lineup kickoff.
As much as Geller says the network will and has to do better, I find it ridiculous that he's stating that after the fact, instead of doing better from the start. When you’re making a conscientious effort to be #CBSSoWhite, you weren't concerned about diversity in the first place.