Diverse TV Shows: ‘Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’

Black Cool, Diversity in the Media

There is a huge absence of TV networks developing and producing television shows that include diversity. This is part two of the ongoing series, you can read part one here, part two

If you keep up with Netflix you should know that ‘Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt‘ is now available with its second season. The point of this ongoing series is to examine and analyze the diversity in which we are offered in television shows.

In part one of this series I spoke about why there’s a lack of diversity within television networks and the shows they produce. Netflix has recently became more successful by creating, producing, and streaming their own original series. One of those original series being ‘Orange Is The New Black.’ Most of these original series I have realized actually tackle many stereotypes and social justice issues even if it’s in a positive or negative light. I always found it interesting as to why shows like these aren’t on actual television networks.

In this second season of ‘Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidth,’ we see a lot of issues involving race. Of course as to why a white actress was cast to play a Native American woman? In the first season she was hiding from her ethnicity and was portraying herself as a typical caucausian housewife, but with this new season she has decided to embrace her culture. Yes, it is refreshing to see this type of controversy involving race but at the same time why couldn’t they actually cast an actress that was not white in the first place? This is the lack of diversity that I mean to talk about.

In part one of this series I used a quote from Wilmer Valederrama’s interview in which he said, “I think [networks’] intentions are in the right place, to try and develop as much diversity as possible, but unfortunately I think a lot of networks lack a bit of that mojo, that courage to actually give those shows a real shot and allow audiences to really find themselves within the leading stories and the leading characters.” The white actress portraying a Native American women is a great example of what Wilmer was saying.

A lot of television shows and even movies are really trying to include diversity in their work but most of the time they don’t get it right. That’s why people still get mad, and they have the right to. Another example, Zoe Saldana, who is a Latina and was cast to portray Nina Simone an African American women. My question is, why can’t they cast actors who would more easily fit the mold of the character they’ll be playing? Instead of getting an actor who is going to have to change their appearance to fit the role?

Diverse TV Shows Are Going Nowhere

Black Cool, Diversity in the Media

There is a huge absence of TV networks developing and producing television shows that include diversity. Wilmer Valederrama currently did an interview with HuffingtonPost and says that “networks lack the ‘courage’ to give diverse series a real shot.

In the past we have seen a lot of television shows come and go, usually lasting up to one or two seasons and suddenly being cancelled due to ratings and lack of audience. If you look at most of these shows you wouldn’t have a hard time noticing that it lacks diversity.

“I think television has become a lot more ambitious when it comes to conceptualizing a show — the tones, the universes, the characters, the premises, the stories, but I also have to admit that as much as they’re developing a lot of these pilots and as much as they’re developing a lot of vehicles for Latinos and African Americans, we’ve yet to see how many networks and how many studios are really willing to pick up these shows to series, and really get behind those shows and truly help them become a success,” Valderrama told HuffPost.

Although there is a visible gap between television shows and diversity, there are still current TV shows that have found success and have been breaking that mold by having people, stories, and problems in the show that include diversity. For examples, there’s Orange is the New Black, Empire, How to Get Away with Murder, Power, Black-Ish, The Fosters, Becoming Us, Girl Code, Key and Peele and so much more.

Yes, these shows are diverse but why did it take this long for these type of television shows to become successful? I really agree with a point that Wilmer made in his interview, he said, “I think [networks’] intentions are in the right place, to try and develop as much diversity as possible, but unfortunately I think a lot of networks lack a bit of that mojo, that courage to actually give those shows a real shot and allow audiences to really find themselves within the leading stories and the leading characters.”

The absence of diversity is not just in television shows, it’s in movies, magazines, commercials, and so on. Up to this day you can pick up a magazine that has a black celebrity on the cover and there’s a pretty good chance that the black celebrity is only either the second, third, or fourth black celebrity to be featured on the cover of that magazine.

This is part three of an ongoing series, read part one and part two.