The Lack of Diversity in Televison
Every person male or female has a show that they always find themselves glued to. Whether it’s a new reality game show or a soap opera that has been playing the same on going problem for years. Although there may be a few people out there that hate television, for the most part we as Americans are glued to television whether we like to admit it or not. Television is a stepping-stone in conversation, when in doubt my mother always says, “talk about one of those shows you always watch”. The average female has watched the OC, Gossip Girl, One Tree Hill, or 90210. These are just a few to name that involve young adults getting caught up in life, love and friendship. They involve pretty and handsome young white adult characters. This brings up my argument towards the critic and viewers concern of the hit HBO series Girls, which too has young white adult characters like the rest of these shows. Therefore, I am left with this, what makes Girls different than these other shows involving white characters?
Although Girls has won the hearts of many viewers, it seems to have only won the hearts of white viewers, rather than winning the hearts of viewers of all ethnicities. Girls is based around four white girls living in New York City, trying to find a job, love, and a real life all at the same time. This question of “why can’t a woman of color have this problem and life as well” has been streaming through the first season of the show. But beyond Girls not being diverse, it has stemmed back into the bigger picture, that television in general is not diverse enough. The stepping-stone of the show Girls to the big picture of television is expressed from an article written by Jon Caramancia, from the New York Times,
“But cloistered though it may be, “Girls” is a symptom, not the disease. The debate over the show is related to, but not a full picture of, greater debates about race and television, about representation and power, and about reception. The vigor of the response has far more to do with what’s not shown on television as a whole than what is or is not show on “Girls”, and also with whose chosen to pay attention” (Caramancia, Jon).
Therefore, Girls may not be as diverse as it should, and viewers may believe it should be more diverse and they are correct. But this issue of diversity goes back to television as a whole. Critics believe, “Television is nowhere near diverse enough, not in it’s actors, it’s writers, or its show runners” (Caramancia, Jon). This issue simply leads back to the problem with television, which helps emphasize the fact that television series are not the problem, but instead the victim. This issue dealing with the network of television is expressed by Maureen Ryan, a writer for the Huffington Post. Television shows are given the green light by television as a whole, which is at a level that diversity either stands or falls.
This problem with the lack of diversity of Girls has been reflected on Lena Dunham, by questioning if she is diverse or not. I believe this is not fair to question her as a person because of her show, but in reality that is how viewers and critics imply her as. Dunham has taken these criticism to the heart, but explains to critics that this show is based on the her own life, and the people that go through these experiences with her. Although viewers may not be pleased with that, I give her credit for holding her ground, and allowing people to recognize that she is not the problem, television is. Many critics believe that adding diversity could potentially hurt this show, by either “clumsy token diversity or honest whiteness?” I agree that it could hurt the theme of the humor viewers get from the white girls being as blunt and honest about life, but I also do believe one show such as Girls, could be the stepping stone to changing television in general. Pin pointing certain shows with the lack of diversity such as Girls, needs to stop and instead look at the similar shows like Girls, and the lack of diversity that is in those as well. Diversity in television needs to change over all, but viewers need to realize the problem with television in general in order to change the overall problem.
Written by: Ellie Carten