Don’t let Shonda Rhimes’ success fool you. While we’re seeing more faces of color on television, we can’t say the same about the writers who mastermind the plot twists of our favorite shows. According to a new Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW) report, minority writers are pretty rare, ThinkProgress reported.
The share of minority writers dropped from 30.5 percent in the 2011-2012 season to a measly 13.7 percent. But hey, if you look at the bigger picture, that figure is not that bad if you compare it to the stats of the past.
“Minority television writers have almost doubled their share of staff positions since 2000, which maybe says less about how stellar things are today and more about how abysmal they must have been 15 years ago,” ThinkProgress added.
A shift in the industry’s psyche isn’t the reason behind the recent small, yet admirable strides of minority writers, though. Thank Shonda Rhimes for putting masterminds of color on the map.
“Until the recent rise of multicultural dramas like ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal, there had been few successful television dramas that featured a critical mass of minority leading roles or writers,” WGAW wrote.
But if you think minority presence on primetime dramas is scant, forget about comedies. Besides Black-ish, where are the Black-themed sitcoms? Surely you remember shows such as Moesha, The Bernie Mac Show, Everybody Hates Chris, The Parkers, Girlfriends, Eve, and The Hughleys — these types of programs are most inclined to employ Black staff writers, but sadly, they’re extinct.
Today, minority writers on sitcoms only account for 3.5 percent of the staff.
When it comes to executive producer roles, ThinkProgress adds that minorities make up a significant share of only three networks, one of which you may have already guessed: BET, FX and El Rey.
Unsurprisingly, White men overwhelmingly hold seats of most executive producer positions, leaving minorities, and even women, in the dust. Female staff writers, by the way, make up just 29 percent of the industry and just 15 percent of executive producer spots.
Why is diversity important? ThinkProgress summed it up best: “The more diverse writers’ rooms are, the more exciting, insightful and outstanding the shows they write can be.” This will not only draw in more audiences, but put more money in the networks’ pockets.