Diversity Study: TV Looks More Like America, Viewers Approve | Entertainment News



By LYNN ELBER, AP TV Writer

LOS ANGELES (AP) – TV rates that reflect the country’s growing racial and ethnic diversity are finding favor with gatekeepers and viewers in the industry, according to a 2019-20 TV season study released on Tuesday.

Despite the pandemic that has hampered Hollywood production, there were different measures of growth in the hiring of people of color – and women – in on-camera and off-camera jobs, researchers at the University of California at Los Angeles in the report.

In turn, public enthusiasm for shows like “Insecure” from star designer Issa Rae and the “Watchmen” miniseries with Emmy-winning actor Regina King has proven that inclusion pays off. business dividends as well as social dividends, said Darnell Hunt, dean of the school’s social program. science division.

The main takeaway from the report is “the growing proof of the importance of diversity for today’s public,” Hunt said in an interview. He co-wrote the annual report with Ana-Christina Ramón, social science research director at UCLA.

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On streaming, cable and broadcast platforms, viewership among adults aged 18 to 49 peaked in many cases when a show had a “majority minority distribution,” Hunt said.

It is consistent with the evolution of the United States. In 2010, four years before UCLA released its first report on Hollywood’s record for diversity, whites made up 63.7% of the population. In 2020, that census figure was just under 58%, the lowest on record.

“People basically want to see TV shows that look like America, that have characters that they can relate to and have experiences that resonate with them,” Hunt said.

This builds on and reinforces previous findings for television, he said. It also reflects the UCLA Film Study released earlier this year.

For all households, including whites, for example, the median ratings were highest for scripted TV shows in which people of color made up between 31% and 40% of credited writers, according to the study.

For White, Latin American and Asian households, the median ratings peaked for scripted cable shows with castings of 41% to 50% of people of color, while black household ratings were highest for shows. with “majority minority distributions”, according to the report.

People of color have not achieved parity in lead actor roles across all platforms. But for the first time in the report’s history, overall actor diversity on scripted TV shows was slightly higher than in the general U.S. population (just under 43% of ethnic and racial groups).

While actors of color have also moved closer to “proportional representation” in cable and streaming, most of the gains could be attributed to the growing share of black and multiracial roles, the researchers found.

Asian Americans – the fastest growing group in the country – and Latinos remain under-represented, while Native Americans are “virtually invisible,” according to the report.

As study co-author Ramón sees, part of the problem lies in the industry white monolith of network and studio executives who tend to view these ethnicities as “very niche”.

“I think they often think of the stories of Latinx creators and Asian American creators as something that is really quite peripheral … and that doesn’t appeal to the general public in quotes,” she said. .

Hunt also cites “unimaginative” top management decisions that reduce diversity to a choice between black or white hires, which he says underscores the need for other ethnic groups to fill decision-making roles.

The study examined a total of 461 scripted shows across all platforms to determine the employment forays made by women and people of color as actresses, writers, directors and series creators.

In general, there has been an increase in racial diversity in almost all job categories, with the representation of women improving in about half of them.

Compared to the previous UCLA report, more people of color were credited writers on all of television, with the percentage of episodes aired rising from 23.4% to 26.4%; on cable, from 25.8% to 28.6%; streaming, from 22.8% to 24.2%.

According to the study, “most of these gains can be attributed to women of color” – for example, Robin Thede and her HBO series “A Black Lady Sketch Show”. In contrast, men of color have increased among broadcast writers, but “have trod the cable and digital waters.”

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