Written By: SABIENNA BOWMAN 27/8/15
There is a great deal of discussion devoted to diversifying directors in film, but the same conversation applies to the realm of TV as well. Even though TV is a writer’s medium, directors are an essential part of creating the aesthetic of the series. The Directors Guild of America (DGA) revealed their Diversity Report on Wednesday — and, though their study did reveal the top shows for female and minority directors, their overall findings on the state of diversity among directors in television isn’t great. Overall, white men are still dominating the field with a whopping 69 percent of all TV episodes being directed by Caucasian males. The numbers become even more disturbing when you factor in 84 percent of all first-time TV directors in the past year where white men.
Not only does that mean more white men are breaking into the field than any other demographic, but it means television as a whole is being guided almost entirely by a white, male perspective. The need for diversity in voices is pivotal, especially in an age where women and minorities are (finally) becoming increasingly visible in front of the camera.
On the upside, women directed 16 percent of all television episodes produced last year — up two percent from the previous year — and minorities (both male and female) directed 18 percent of all episodes — a one percent increase over last year’s stats. Those numbers are not a cause for major celebration, but hopefully they signify a step in the right direction. Seeing television become culturally diverse is rewarding, but diversity should extend to the people behind the camera as well.
The top nine shows for director diversity, according to the study are definitely worthy of praise, though — add these shows to your viewing list and support a more diverse television landscape in the process.
1. Being Mary Jane, BET
Soon to be entering its third season, Being Mary Jane stars Gabrielle Union as a successful broadcast news journalist. The show follows her professional and personal life, and it truly is a hidden treasure. The show itself focuses on Mary Jane’s identity as a black woman, and how she navigates dating, familial expectations, and career goals. While the show is already a hit, it’s a show that deserves even more love.
2. The Game, BET
The Game came to an end in August 2015 after a five season run split between The CW and BET — but it is still well worth checking out. The series followed a group of women who were either married to or the mother to professional football players. Like Friday Night Lights, the show was about the characters and not the sports. Because of its focus on family, friendship, and love, The Game had a passionate fanbase that followed the series from day one.
3. Single Ladies, BET
That’s right, BET has claimed the three top spots on the list which speaks to the network’s devotion to diversity. Originally a VH1 show, BET saw the potential in Single Ladies and picked up the series about a group of independent, career-minded women. The show’s focus on friendship and soapy goodness makes it one of TV’s most fun hidden gems.
4. The McCarthys, CBS
The McCarthys was the rare CBS show not to get a second season, but it still managed to nab the number four spot on the DGA’s list thanks to an overwhelmingly diverse group of directors. The family comedy, as led by sitcom staple Laurie Metcalf, is worth a shot if you can track it down.
5. Ground Floor, TBS
Another cancelled series, Ground Floor was an upstairs/downstairs office romance from Scrubs‘ Bill Lawrence. The two-season comedy was a like a more lighthearted, eccentric version of The Office, and its corporate versus clerical storylines carried the series as much as its star-crossed lovers did.
6. Empire, Fox
7. American Crime, ABC
8. Nicky, Ricky, Dicky & Dawn, Nickelodeon
This sweet kids show doesn’t translate great for adults, but the story of a set of quadruplets who can’t agree on anything is a fun diversion for the youngsters in your life — and, given the diversity it boasts behind the camera, the show is clearly in good hands.
9. Jane the Virgin, The CW
Yes, the brilliant Jane the Virgin is also in the top nine. It’s clear that diversity in front of the camera often leads to more diversity behind the camera. (If you haven’t caught up on Jane the Virgin for some reason, you have until October, so you should get on that.)
A few shows that didn’t quite crack the top picks that you should definitely check out include ABC Family’s The Fosters, TV Land’s Younger, and HBO’sVeep. Here’s hoping next season the DGA’s findings are brighter as even more fall shows focus on awesome women and diverse leads.