Good news, everyone! Television is slowly (but, hopefully, surely) becoming a more diverse medium. Shows starring black women like Scandal and How To Get Away With Murder are killing it in the ratings. Fresh Off The Boat–the first show about an Asian American family in nearly 20 years–premiered the other day to great reviews. Jane the Virgin, a show about a Latina woman, is getting universal praise. It seems as if the TV industry is finally starting to realize that not everyone on the planet is white, straight and fit. Hurrah! Why it took until 2015 for this realization to occur, I have no idea, but it is definitely an exciting change worth praising.
But wait, not so fast. For every show that puts a queer character in the forefront or stars an overweight woman with an actual story to tell as opposed to the butt of sizeist jokes, there are still dozens of shows out there that are so lacking in diversity and realism. For every teen drama that actually stars teens, there are 10 others that star 28-year-olds with 12-pack abs who are supposed to be believable 16-year-olds. Uh, no thanks. Check out these eight things that we don’t see enough of on TV but should. Come on, it’s time.
Asian Representation, PeriodThe fact that Fresh Off The Boat is the first show about an Asian American family in 20 years is EMBARRASSING. There are a ton of Asian people out there, TV land. Why is there only one family on our screens? Asian-Americans are one of the fastest growing populations in this country, people. We need to do better. Oh, and don't get me started on whitewashing.
LGBTQ Characters Without Tragedy Surrounding ThemA common critique among some people in the LGBTQ community is that too many queer storylines in TV shows are riddled with angst and tragedy. That's not to say that being an LGBTQ teen is a walk in the park or to diminish the serious violence that affects many within the community. But in the same vein, young queer teens need to see that happiness is available, too, and it's important to see that in media depictions.
Shows About Young People Of Color--Not Sidekicks!We. Need. More. Of. This. Period. It's as if after the early '00s stories about young people of color just disappeared. They're slowly coming back but we need to speed it up a little. Diversity shouldn't just exist in shows about adults. No more brown sidekicks 2k15. Brown stars!
Plus Size Women Being Treated As People, Not Walking Fat JokesMy Mad Fat Diary does a great job of actually treating an overweight girl as a person who has hobbies and interests and crushes instead of just a walking fat joke. Not enough shows do this, though, especially when it comes to overweight women.
Less Sterile Depictions Of Teen LifeYeah, every show has a rating system but why is it that almost every American teen show that tries to show grittier, darker sides of teen life end up turning into a cheesy Very Special Episode? Also, teen curse. Why is cursing so restricted but violence is totally okay?
Groups Of Friends That Are Actually DiverseI'm not saying that any show that doesn't look like the UN is racist, but is anyone else sick of seeing shows set in a metropolitan area that doesn't depict any racial diversity? What gives? Oh yeah, racism. Some shows do a great job at this, especially a British show called Some Girls, but we need more of it! No more shows set in NYC where the only people of color are background characters.
Teenagers Playing Teenagers, Not 30-Year-OldsWhile this isn't exactly a result of systematic oppression and puritanical values like some of the others...this has got to stop. The next TV show that tries to convince me that a 28-year-old man who looks like he spends 50 percent of his spare time getting swole at the gym is supposed to be a sophomore in high school I'm going to scream. There are teens and others in their early 20s who can act, too!
Disabled Characters Who Aren't TokensYeah, having one kid in a wheelchair who has a few great lines every now and then isn't exactly progressive. Disabled teens exist; some have "visible" disabilities and some do not. But they deserve to see themselves represented as more than just a sad side plot.
What else is TV serious lacking? What do you think TV is actually getting better at portraying? Tell us in the comments!