25 TV Series That Embrace Diversity

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New Girl. Photo: Fox

New Girl. Photo: Fox

When comparing diversity in TV versus film, it’s no contest.  As the #OscarsSoWhite controversy ramps back up, we’re focusing on the positive by honoring the diverse TV series we know and love.

The 88th Oscars are around the corner, and the #OscarsSoWhite controversy is sure to follow. We’re here to honor the TV series that try to portray the world the way it is, instead of through a lens of white privilege.

As much as the Academy would like it to, #OscarsSoWhite isn’t going to disappear into thin air. Leading up to the Oscars, the chatter about diversity in film is once again growing to a dull roar. Just in the past few days, statistics site Five Thirty Eight published a chart about diversity in Hollywood, and HBO fake news anchor John Oliver went on a hilarious rant about the whitewashing of Hollywood.

It’s definitely of note that Oliver’s segment on Last Week Tonight only focused on films, not television. Of course, some television shows are certainly guilty of whitewashing but when it comes to working on a balanced ratio, TV has film beat, hands down.

Last month, Idris Elba walked home with two SAG Awards. He earned one for Lead Role in a TV Series on Luther, and the other for Best Supporting Actor in the Netflix film Beasts of No Nation. During his acceptance speech he uttered the three words, “welcome to diverse TV.”

We completely agree. TV is incredibly diverse. In a funny quirk of Hollywood, TV is now – possibly for the first time ever – an industry leader in the integration of diversity into mainstream entertainment. When TV started to expand (online streaming services) and experiment (streaming, FX, AMC) there were more compelling and interesting roles to play on TV than film. As a testament to this, recently Kristen Dunst praised TV as a place where creativity can bloom and where actors can find meaty and satisfying roles. Whereas TV was once a shameful step down from the glamour of being on a film set, now actors are finding artistic satisfaction on the small screen.

It’s time for the movie industry to take a page from the TV playbook. It’s time for them to start being realistic about the value of bringing minorities to the table.

We’re here to give props to the TV series that have made small but significant breakthroughs in minority casting. Some of these series break the mold, others just cast diverse actors because they work in the roles. Diversity is a valuable asset to any storyteller, and TV is beginning to bring those stories to life for us.

So with the help of my co-editors Cody Schultz and Sandy Perez, we’ve put our favorite diverse shows in alphabetical order, because there’s only one true winner when minorities are showcased on TV – and that’s the viewers.

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