Sunday, December 5, 2021

Diversity exploration: TV is more like the US and viewers approve of it

LOS ANGELES (AP). Television, which reflects the growing racial and ethnic diversity in the country, is finding favor with industry gatekeepers and viewers, according to a study for the 2019-20 TV season released Tuesday.

Despite the pandemic that has stumped Hollywood production, researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles have seen different rates of growth in hiring people of color – both women – to work in front of the camera and beyond.

In turn, public enthusiasm for shows like Insecure star creator Issa Rae and the Watchmen miniseries starring Emmy-winning actress Regina King have proven that inclusion pays not only social dividends, but also business. said Darnell Hunt, the school’s dean of social affairs. Department of Sciences.

The report’s main takeaway is “there is growing evidence of how important diversity is to today’s audiences,” Hunt said in an interview. He co-wrote the annual report with Ana-Cristina Ramone, director of social research at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Among streaming, cable and broadcast platforms, adult viewers between the ages of 18 and 49 peaked in many cases when the show had a “majority minority”, Hunt said.

This is in line with the changing United States. In 2010, four years before the University of California at Los Angeles released its first report on Hollywood’s record diversity, whites made up 63.7% of the population. In 2020, the census rate was just under 58%, the lowest rate on record.

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

It builds on and reinforces previous findings on television, he said. It also mirrors a similar study of UCLA films published earlier this year.

The study found that for all households, including whites, for example, the average scores were highest for TV shows with scenarios in which people of color made up between 31% and 40% of authors.

The report found that for white, Hispanic, and Asian American households, average ratings were the highest for scripted cable television programs, which ranged from 41% to 50% of colored people, while black household ratings were highest for shows with “The composition of the majority is a minority.”

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People of color lacked parity in leading roles across all platforms. But for the first time in the history of the report, the overall diversity of actors in broadcast scenarios was slightly higher than in the general US population (just under 43% of ethnic and racial groups).

The researchers found that while color actors were also close to “proportional representation” in cable and streaming, most of the advances can be attributed to an increase in black and multiracial roles.

The report says Asian Americans are the fastest growing group in the country – and Hispanics remain underrepresented while Native Americans are “virtually invisible.”

Part of the problem, according to study co-author Ramon, is the industry’s white monolith of network and studio executives who tend to view these ethnic groups as “very niche.”

“I think they often think of the stories of Hispanic and Asian-American creators as something really secondary…. and not appealing to the mainstream without quotes, ”she said.

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

The study looked at 461 scripted shows across all platforms to determine how women and people of color have made gains in employment as actors, writers, directors, and series creators.

Overall, racial diversity has increased in almost all job categories, with female representation improving in about half of them.

Compared to a previous report from UCLA, more people of color were recognized as screenwriters on all TV channels, with the broadcast coverage increasing from 23.4% to 26.4%; by cable – from 25.8% to 28.6%; on streaming – from 22.8% to 24.2%.

According to the study, “most of these accomplishments can be attributed to women of color” – for example, Robin Tede and her HBO series Black Lady Sketch Show. In contrast, there was a growing number of people of color among the writers of authority on television, but they “walked on water in cable and digital.”

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