Here’s a quick question: Over the last year, how many shows on network television prominently featured nonwhite actors or actresses? I’m pretty sure you can count on two hands with fingers left over. This pilot season promises to be one of the most diverse in years, but Nellie Andreeva, Deadline’s TV editor, thinks there’s just a little too much diversity.
In an article that is filled with every last white tear you could possibly imagine, Andreeva lamented the lack of opportunities for white actors during this upcoming pilot season.
Yes, you read correctly. The multicultural crew has taken over television, and OMG, white people won’t have jobs. The world is coming to an end.
“Instead of opening the field for actors of any race to compete for any role in a colorblind manner, there has been a significant number of parts designated as ethnic this year, making them off-limits for Caucasian actors, some agents signal. Many pilot characters this year were listed as open to all ethnicities, but when reps would call to inquire about an actor submission, they frequently have been told that only non-Caucasian actors would be considered,” Andreeva wrote.
So let me get this straight.
After a billion years of watching the majority of white faces on television, we’re supposed to be upset that about 10 percent of the new shows on TV now have more diverse actors and actresses?
I’m sorry, but what bizarro world is Andreeva living in?
Andreeva even had the audacity to pinpoint where roles that were written for white actors eventually had actors of other ethnicities cast in them:
Some of it has been organic. Last year, the leads in Extant and How To Get Away With Murder, originally not written as black, became ethnic once stars of the caliber of Halle Berry and Viola Davis became interested. Such was the case with Jennifer Lopez and Eva Longoria, who both commanded on-air episodic orders from NBC when they committed to star in drama Shades Of Blue and comedy Telenovela, respectively, as well as Paula Patton, who lifted the cast-contingency off the ABC drama pilot Runner. (ABC and 20th TV cast Patton, who is black, knowing already that the male lead had been conceived as Hispanic. The role went to Adam Rodriguez.) That also was the case with meaty supporting roles on Fox’s Gotham last year, which went for Jada Pinkett Smith, and NBC drama pilot Endgame this time, landing Wesley Snipes.
Apparently Andreeva does not live in a post-racial television world. Although Andreeva admits that diversifying television is long overdue, she’s not here for the overkill. She makes it sound like if she had her way, only one Asian or black person would be allowed per network. And it better not be prime time.
Maybe if some black television executives extended a hand in love to Andreeva, as Common suggests black people should do to racists, she’d be able to understand the plight of nonwhite actors and actresses. Or we can handle it the way we used to back in the day: Forget about extending a hand in love. Shonda Rhimes seems to have the right idea.
In any event, it’s about time people in Hollywood, like Andreeva, realize that maybe people would like to see more diverse faces, and faces that reflect everyday life. Not every network and series should be a reminder that we were force-fed Friends and Seinfeld for several years and were left to believe not one black, Asian or Hispanic person lived in New York City. We want the Huangs, Hernandezes and families like those on Black’ish, and we want roles that were written for people and don’t specify, “Oh, this was meant for a white person.”
If that’s just too much diversity for you, well, there are always episodes of Friends available on Netflix so you can reminisce about the good old days of whitewashed television.