×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Scripted Series Snub Seniors, Study Says

Seniors characters are dramatically underrepresented on popular television, according to a new study from USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.

Looking at a sampling of 72 shows — a mix of the most popular series according to Nielsen ratings in the 18-49 demo and with viewers 65 and older — the study, titled “Seniors on the Small Screen: Aging in Popular Television,” found that people ages 60 and older made up only 9.4% of speaking roles, despite making up 19.9% of the U.S. population, according to the U.S. census. Of the 72 shows surveyed, one episode per series, only three came within two percentage points of 19.9%.

Seniors accounted for only 8.2% of series-regular roles on the shows surveyed.

Among senior roles, diversity was scarce. Only 30% of all roles for characters ages 60 and older were female. Thirty-eight of the 72 programs surveyed had no female senior role.

Senior roles also skewed heavily white, with white characters accounting for 72.2% of all such characters, compared to 14.6% black/African American, 6.6% Hispanic/Latino, 1.3% Asian, and 5.3% from mixed race/other groups. None of the 72 shows featured a single female Asian senior speaking role.

Behind the camera, seniors fared slightly better in some areas, far worse in others. People 60 and older accounted for 25.3% of directors on series surveyed. But only two of the 19 senior directors counted were women.

Writers rooms were especially short on senior representation. Of 121 credited writers across 72 episodes, only 5% were age 60 or older.

Of the 100 showrunners identified, 11 were ages 60 or older — 10 men and one woman.

The study was authored by Stacy L. Smith, Katherine Piper, Marc Choueiti, Artur Tofan, Anne-Marie Depauw, and Ariana Case.

 

More TV

  • Netflix - Apple TV

    Netflix Turns in Record Q4 Subscriber Gains, Price Increase Weighs on U.S. Forecast

    Netflix is beating Wall Street expectations on international subscriber growth — but its recently announced price increase in the U.S. may have put a damper on its momentum in the States. For the fourth quarter of 2018, Netflix reported 1.53 million paid net adds in the U.S. and 7.31 million internationally, to end the year [...]

  • vudu-free-movies-tv-shows

    Walmart Brushes Off Reports of Streaming Development Halt

    Walmart isn’t ruling out options for a potential streaming video service, a company spokesperson says. Responding to a CNBC report that the mega-retailer had decided not to launch its own streaming entertainment service after all, Walmart would not confirm that there was any halt in development of such a platform, and did not have anything definitive [...]

  • THE KOMINSKY METHOD

    'Kominsky Method' Renewed for Season 2 at Netflix

    Netflix has picked up “The Kominsky Method” for a second season. The comedy stars starring Michael Douglas and Alan Arkin recently won two Golden Globe Awards, one for best comedy series and the other for Douglas in the best actor in a comedy series category. Arkin was also nominated in the supporting actor category. Season 2 [...]

  • Crackle Latin America

    Sony Shuts Down Crackle Latin America Business

    Sony Pictures Television is folding the Crackle Latin America subscription VOD service, which has 400,000 subscribers across 17 countries, after concluding the business isn’t economically viable. Crackle Latin America first launched in April 2012 as an ad-supported streaming service — like the U.S. version of Crackle — before switching in 2016 to a subscription video-on-demand [...]

  • Empire of Sand Book

    Kronicle Media, Amyale, Rebel Maverick Option YA Novel 'Empire of Sand' for TV (EXCLUSIVE)

    Production companies Kronicle Media, Amyale and Rebel Maverick have partnered to develop the YA fantasy novel “Empire of Sand” by Tasha Suri as a TV series, Variety has learned exclusively. The novel by first-time author Suri is centers on Mehr, the illegitimate daughter of an imperial governor and an exiled Amrithi mother–a member of a race of [...]

  • 'NYPD Blue' Sequel Pilot Casts Fabien

    'NYPD Blue' Sequel Pilot Casts Fabien Frankel in Lead Role

    The “NYPD Blue” pilot at ABC has cast newcomer Fabien Frankel in the role of Theo Sipowicz, Variety has confirmed. Theo is the son of Andy Sipowicz, who was played in the original series by Dennis Franz. Like his father he is described as a hard-drinking, hard-headed, and quick-witted cop. Frankel is a recent graduate of the London Academy of [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content