When White Audiences Have Problems With TV Diversity

empire

The 2014-2015 television schedule has been hailed as a breakthrough for television diversity. Not only did networks unroll an unprecedented number of shows featuring predominantly mixed race or non-White casts of colour, but many of these shows have outperformed the schedule’s more conventional — and thus more conventionally White — fare. Although some shows have flopped (Selfie), others like Black-ish, How To Get Away With Murder, CristelaJane the Virgin, and Fresh Off The Boat have performed beyond expectations to carry this year’s television lineup.

The year’s breakout star is, of course, Empire — a delightfully soap opera-ish musical epic about an ambitious ex-con hip hop producer and her business mogul husband, who must identify a successor for their musical empire among their three wayward sons. Empire has been demolishing its Wednesday night competition in the ratings — remarkably, the show has increased in viewership every week — to finish with 21 million viewers who tuned in for its 2-hour Season 1 finale last week.

Not everyone is thrilled about television’s new age of diversity however. Last evening, Nellie Andreeva, television editor for entertainment blog Deadline penned a lengthy screed on “ethnic casting”, asking of it: “about time, or too much of a good thing?

“The pendulum may have swung a bit too far,” says Andreeva in the text of her post, before launching into a tedious list of actors of colour who have landed roles through colourblind casting, or who won roles initially conceived of as White. Instead, Andreeva implores us to think of the plight of White actors, who now face a field of growing roles written for a person of colour.

“Instead of opening the field for actors of any race to compete for any role in a color-blind manner, there has been a significant number of parts designated as ethnic this year, making them off-limits for Caucasian actors,” complains Andreeva.

The world’s tiniest violin is playing right now, and it can only play sad songs.

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