The story today that I just couldn’t shake has something to do with Grey’s Anatomy. And for this alone, let me apologize.
Shonda Rhimes, executive producer of ABC shows Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice and Scandal, called out the new ABC Family television series Bunheads for i’s lack of casting diversity.
(See the story here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/13/shonda-rhimes-bunheads_n_1594251.html)
Yes, everyone in the cast, and almost the entire town, is white.
Ms. Rhimes is famous for her “blind casting”– none of the characters she writes are of any specific race. And she tweeted:
I have a couple of things I want to say about this. Carefully, is probably the best advice at this juncture.
First, I don’t disagree. The cast is entirely white. And diversity on television is important.
However… and hang with me here… Is it realistic to assume that the small town being replicated is incredibly diverse and would therefore have an abundance or even one black ballerina?
And if ASP were to adopt Shonda’s “blind-casting” bit, isn’t it entirely possible that they chose the best ballerinas for the show, and they all just happened to be white?
It’s fiction, so the small town could have been “created” to be diverse, I suppose. But I live in the real world and in the real world, I remember attending a school for seven years in which I could count the black students on one hand. And not a single one of them was in my ballet class. Or tap class. Or modern jazz class either.
I’m not saying the show shouldn’t have cast a non-white actor as a ballerina. But at the same time, how about we not force people to hire non-white people just so they can say “I have a non-white cast member.” To me, forced diversity isn’t actually diversity at all.
And when they finally end up casting a black or Latina ballerina (because it’s an issue now and networks hate that) it’ll be because the decision was forced and not necessarily because the actress was the most talented for the role.
But my second point is really the one sticking to me today. Because hypocrisy in any form bugs me.
Ms. Rhimes daughter is 10 years old and I understand the importance of exposing her to diverse television.
And while I’m yet to be a mother, if you were to poll 100 Moms of daughters, black, white, green or purple and asked which show they’d prefer their daughters to watch, Bunheads or *Insert A Shonda Rhimes Show Here* hands down, Bunheads is going to win that race.
Because no matter how diverse Ms. Rhimes may be in her casting, I can’t imagine many Moms wanting their little girls watching shows like Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice, where every episode someone is having sex or debating sex or cheating or thinking of cheating on their significant other. Where promiscuity not only becomes dominant features of every character and storyline, but also gives anyone admitted to a hospital pause when considering what STDs the doctor trying to touch them may or may not have.
But hey… at least those shows have diverse casts.
Priorities Mama Rhimes.