×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

New 2017-18 TV Shows Are Mostly White and Male

The new crop of scripted broadcast series for 2017-18 season features low representation for women and people of color in the topmost roles both in front of and behind the camera. According to an analysis by Variety, white men make up a the majority of showrunners and lead actors on the new series ordered for the upcoming season.

Working with industry sources, Variety identified 46 lead and co-lead actor roles, and 42 showrunners and co-showrunners on the 39 new series ordered by the Big Five broadcasters for next season. Of the lead actors, only 20% were Hispanic or non-white, and only 35% were female. Of the showrunners, 10% were non-white or Hispanic and 29% were female.

“It’s not a very encouraging analysis,” said Darnell Hunt, director of UCLA’s Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies. “Given the fact that things currently have a long way to go, if what you’re looking forward to for the next season in many of the categories isn’t exceeding what’s already there, there’s little to no prospect for progress.”

New series do not account for the totality of each network’s diversity next season. Freshman shows will air alongside veterans such as ABC’s “Black-ish,” CBS’ “Superior Donuts,” The CW’s “Jane the Virgin,” Fox’s “Empire,” and NBC’s “The Carmichael Show,” which feature women and people of color in lead acting roles and as executive producers. But the rates of representation that Variety found for the new class are consistent with the broadcast norm. (For example, the most recent installment of the Bunche Center’s Hollywood diversity report, which looked in detail at the 2014-15 television season, found 11% representation for minorities in lead broadcast roles and 38% representation for women.)

Looking ahead to next season’s freshmen, CBS, which has received ample criticism in recent years for an underrepresentation of onscreen minorities in lead roles in primetime, ranked lowest of all the broadcast networks in female showrunners, with 11%, and female lead actors, with 0. But the network fared slightly better in representation for racial and ethnic minorities, thanks to the drama “S.W.A.T.” starring Shemar Moore. The series’ creator, Aaron Thomas, is expected to split showrunning duties with fellow executive producer Shawn Ryan.

ABC, which has long touted its onscreen diversity as a selling point, ranked lowest in non-white/Hispanic lead actors at 9%, and was one of only two networks — the other being Fox — not to have a non-white or Hispanic producer handling the day-to-day running of a freshman show. ABC’s low marks are mitigated in part by representation on “For the People,” a broad ensemble featuring several non-white actors. ABC is in the process of recasting a lead role on the series that was played in the pilot by an African-American actress.

The network is still expected to outpace several competitors next season in terms of onscreen diversity.

Percentage representation in new 2017-18 scripted series

 

“ABC is interesting because currently their shows are quite diverse,” Hunt said. “I guess it stands to reason that their new shows might not be quite so diverse, because if you put all of their shows together, you’d see a much higher share of people of color.”

The CW was the most diverse network in all four categories measured — in some cases separated from its competitors by a wide gulf. The network boasted 33% non-white or Hispanic lead actors, followed by Fox (30%), NBC (18%), CBS (13%), and ABC (9%). It was one of two networks with a majority female lead-actor pool (67%), alongside NBC (55%). Fox (30%), ABC (27%), and CBS (0) trailed in female leads.

The husband-wife team of Salim Akil and Mara Brock Akil on “Black Lightning” gave The CW a higher ranking than other networks in non-white or Hispanic showrunners. But the DC superhero drama is one of only three shows to be run by a non-white or Hispanic writer-producer. “S.W.A.T.” is another. NBC’s “Champions,” where Mindy Kaling is expected to shoulder showrunning duties with Charlie Grandy, is the third.

The CW was the only network to boast a majority of female showrunners at 67% — followed by ABC (33%), Fox (20%), NBC (20%), and CBS (11%).

Representation for 2017-18 will change as the season approaches, then begins. Several shows, such as Fox’s “911” and ABC’s untitled “Grey’s Anatomy” spinoff, have yet to be staffed or cast. And additional scripted series may be picked up between now and the end of the season.

More TV

  • Ari Emanuel Endeavor

    Endeavor IPO Filing Offers Details of Company's Financials, Leadership Pay Packages

    Endeavor’s IPO filing Thursday offers a hard look at the company’s financial performance during the past three years during a period of rapid growth for the company that’s home to UFC, WME, Professional Bull Riders and a clutch of other assets. Endeavor is generating solid free cash flow from operations and healthy adjusted earnings for [...]

  • Blake Jenner What If TV Show

    'What/If' Star Blake Jenner on Creating Chemistry With Jane Levy, Renee Zellweger

    Blake Jenner first rose to fame in 2012 when he won “The Glee Project” and therefore earned a role on “Glee” proper. In the years since, though, he graduated from teen heartthrob status to meatier, edgier roles in films such as “American Animals” and now the Netflix limited series “What/If,” in which he stars opposite [...]

  • Mario Lopez Candy Crush

    Mario Lopez, Seth Kurland Set Latinx Family Comedy Series at Netflix

    Mario Lopez and Seth Kurland are teaming up for a new comedy series at Netflix. Variety has learned that the streamer has given a 16 episode order to the multi-cam comedy “The Expanding Universe of Ashley Garcia” co-created by Lopez and Kurland. In the series, when Ashley Garcia — the world’s only 15-and-a-half-year-old robotics engineer [...]

  • HBO logo

    TV News Roundup: HBO Announces Recipients of 2019 HBOAccess Writing Fellowship

    In today’s roundup, Fox Nation announces a fresh slate of programming for the summer and HBO announces the recipients of its HBOAccess Writing Fellowship. DEVELOPMENT: HBO has announced the recipients of its 2019 HBOAccess Writing Fellowship. The eight writers selected out of the 3,000 submissions will participate in an 8-month program of master classes and [...]

  • Big Bang Theory

    'Big Bang Theory,' 'Manifest' Among Top Live+7 Gainers of 2018-2019 Season

    With 2018-2019 broadcast season wrapping up, certain shows stand head and shoulders above their competition in the Nielsen Live+7 rankings. Live+7 data is currently available only through May 5, but the top dogs will likely see little change once the final numbers are in for the traditional September-May season. The top gainer in adults 18-49 [...]

  • Anna Kendrick Paul Feig

    Anna Kendrick, Paul Feig Team for Comedy Anthology Series at WarnerMedia Streaming Service

    Anna Kendrick and Paul Feig are coming to the WarnerMedia streaming service Variety has learned that the upcoming streamer has ordered the romantic comedy anthology series “Love Life,” the first season of which will star Kendrick with Feig executive producing. WarnerMedia has ordered a 10-episode first season of the half-hour series. Lionsgate Television and FeigCo [...]

  • Jon Feltheimer

    Lionsgate Posts Loss, Underperforms Wall Street Expectations

    Lionsgate has posted a quarterly loss and its revenues and operating income have come in under Wall Street projections, despite growth from its premium cable channel, Starz. The studio reported a net loss of $24 million, or 11 cents a share, with adjusted operating income of $103 million for its fourth fiscal quarter ended March [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content