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See How Badly Television Is Doing When It Comes to Diversity

2 minute read

This year’s Oscars was slammed for the nominees’ lack of diversity—and now the small-screen is coming under fire, too.

Over the last 13 TV seasons, staff writers have continued to be mostly white and male, according to an annual report on TV staffing from the the Writers Guild of America. That trend continues in the face of the rise of showrunners like Scandal‘s Shonda Rhimes, Girls‘ Lena Dunham and Transparent‘s Jill Soloway.

WGA has amassed over a decade’s worth of data from its annual briefs, giving us a picture of how gender and racial diversity has changed—or remained unchanged—over time. Take a look:


The report, which surveyed 2,724 writers on 292 TV shows during the 2013-2014 season, shows that 29% of TV writers during that period were female, a 2.2% increase over the last 12 years. Meanwhile, 13.7% of writers were non-white, a 4.9% increase over the last 12 years. For comparison, 50.7% of Americans are female, and 22.3% of Americans are non-white, according to the latest U.S. Census data.

“In fact, women and minorities have lost a little ground relative to their male and white counterparts since the WGA’s last report, both in terms of overall staff positions and in the all-important executive producer ranks,” writes report author University of California, Los Angeles sociology professor Darnell Hunt. “Indeed, research is beginning to confirm the common-sense notion that increasingly diverse audiences desire more diverse storytelling.”

22 Movies That Are Being Turned Into TV Shows

Minority Report (Fox) The rebooted version of the Tom Cruise sci-fi flick will be set 10 years after the Precrime division has been dismantled and will focus on a female detective. 20th Century Fox
Big (Fox) The TV show version of Big, from the creators of Enlisted, will be a limited series that delves into "what it means to be an adult and what it means to be a kid, and how in today's world those two things are more confused than ever."20th Century Fox
Hitch (Fox) Will Smith, who starred as a love doctor in the movie version of Hitch, and his wife Jada Pinkett Smith will produce this workplace comedy about dating politics.Columbia
Scream (MTV) This 90s horror classic is getting a modern update: It will follow a spate of killings kicked off by a viral YouTube video. But if the TV version is anything like the movie, no actor on the show should make long-term plans. Dimension Films
Owen Wilson in "Marley and Me"
Marley & Me (NBC) Though the Marley & Me movie may have been a tear-jerker, the proposed TV show will be a comedy. Picking up where the film left off, John, Jenny and their three children will be forced to adopt a new stray puppy — whom they name Marley, of course.20th Century Fox
Bachelor Party (ABC) The writers have said the TV show, "loosely based" on the 1984 Tom Hanks movie about bachelor party debauchery, will be an anthology series in which each season focuses on a different wedding party and examines the relationships of various couples.20th Century Fox
In Good Company (CBS) In Good Company focuses on a middle-aged executive who must contend with a new boss who is both half his age and dating his daughter. Paul Weitz, who wrote the 2004 film, is onboard to write and executive produce the show.Universal
Monster-in-Law (Fox) The 2005 comedy starring Jennifer Lopez and Jane Fonda will follow a happily married woman who must contend with her mother-in-law while preparing to welcome a baby.New Line Cinema
The Devil's Advocate (NBC) The series, like the Keanu Reeves and Al Pacino film, will center on a public defender who joins a law firm that is run by the devil.Warner Bros.
The Dark Fields
Limitless (CBS) Bradley Cooper, who starred in the action film, will executive produce the Limitless TV series about a writer who is able to access 100% of his brain on a mysterious drug called NZT.Relativity Media
Real Genius (NBC) A present-day reboot of the cult Val Kilmer film, Real Genius will be a workplace comedy about the relationship between a physics legend and his naive coworker.TriStar
Rush Hour (CBS) The TV show version of Rush Hour will again pair up a play-by-the-rules Hong Kong police officer and a rebellious black Los Angeles cop in a procedural-type show.New Line Cinema
The Illusionist (CW) The Edward Norton film may have been set in 1889 Vienna, but the TV adaptation will take place in turn-of-the-century New York. It will follow a famous illusionist who returns home from prison to find his wife married to the mob boss who framed him for a crime.Yari Film Group
Uncle Buck (ABC) Like the 1980s John Hughes movie starring John Candy, Uncle Buck in its TV show form will focus on a man who must learn to grow up by taking care of his brother's kids. Universal
12 Monkeys (SyFy) Set to premiere January 19, the series features a man sent back from the future to prevent a plague that will destroy mankind.Universal
The Odd Couple (CBS) Matthew Perry and Thomas Lennon star in this remake of the classic Neil Simon play/film/show about a two recently divorced men and roommates — one messy and one a neat freak.Paramount
School of Rock (Nickelodeon) Set to air on Nickelodeon, School of Rock will follow a down-on-his-luck musician who pretends to be a substitute teacher at a prep school.Paramount
Shooter (TNT) Mark Wahlberg, who starred in the conspiracy thriller film, will produce the TV adaptation about a sharpshooter who is framed for murder.Paramount
Ashecliffe, a prequel to Shutter Island (HBO) Dennis Lehane, author of the novel Shutter Island upon which the Martin Scorsese film is based, will pen a prequel called Ashecliffe that would explore the eerie hospital's past before Leonardo DiCaprio's character in the film ever visited. Scorcese is reportedly in talks to direct the pilot.Paramount
The Truman Show (Paramount) Paramount Pictures has begun to develop a Truman Show TV series about a man unknowingly living in a semi-scripted reality show — a concept that's become all-the-more relevant in the age of hacks, shrinking privacy, over-sharing and social media.Paramount


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