Hey Jhenne! I’ve wondering: why does it seem like shows made in the 90’s up until the early 2000’s were more racially diverse? There seemed to be this weird-ass gap from around 2005-2012 where things got very whitewashed. Not to say the media is perfect today (ha!), but I definitely see some improvement as shows like Empire and Jane the Virgin become more of the norm. I was wondering if there were any institutional changes that led to that gap or really wtf happened, if you know.




We are about to be here all day I hope you’re ready for this level of commitment. 

This is a really good question, and I don’t think there’s a single concrete answer so much as a multitude of things going on at once. And while it’s really really interesting, imo, that means my answer is about to be LONG AS HAYLE. But I’ll try to put links and stuff for further reading’s sake. And I’m really only scratching the surface and doing some Intro 101 summation, because each of these channels and acts and points has a fascinating lengthy af history. So there’s plenty to look up if you survive this, lol.

Starting disclaimers:

  1. I’m talking specifically about mainstream television (in America). Not the entire realm of visual/digital media, and not film or indie stuff.
  2. I’ll be using black sitcoms as benchmarks, both because that’s where my base of knowledge is, and because there are -historically- more examples.
  3. I’m only really including shows starring/centered on, rather than featuring as side characters and whatnot.
  4. Also, I’m going to focus on “family” and primetime programs rather than children-specific media/animation.

Annnnd obviously this reply is research + speculation, because my books don’t necessarily delve into or examine the history of the medium re: diversity for me to copy paste here ofc. So. Conjecture.


Anyways. yeah. Here we go! (With opening definitions and distinctions!)

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That ‘foot in door moment’ comment really hit me. Is it any wonder after the work and effort and wait to get to this, what, one season where we have multiple, popular diverse shows, people are going to be disappointed when new shows are super white?

Of course it’s no surprise that so quickly someone has put out a terrible article on Deadline asking if we’ve gone too far and what will happen to the white actors now??