Networks pledge to diversify their reality TV shows. Do they deliver?

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TV networks like ABC have promised to cast more people of color. Can diversity and equity issues be fixed with recasting? Photo by Wikicommons.

The latest episode of ABC’s “The Bachelorette” will air tonight, and it’s been marked by historic firsts. COVID postponed production. Then there was a bachelorette switcheroo. Now the suitors are courting a bachelorette who’s both Black and Mexican.

Orange County native Tayshia Adams is the franchise’s second Black lead. To put that in perspective, there have been 40 seasons over the past 18 years. ABC pledged solidarity with Black Lives Matter and to cast more people of color. Can diversity and equity issues be fixed with recasting?

“I talk to folks all the time that are making these kinds of decisions. And a lot of times, the go-to is what's worked before,” says Ri-Karlo Handy, editor and owner of Sunwise Media. “And unfortunately, there's not a lot of innovation on building everything from the ground up with diversity in mind."

How to bring in real change? Handy says, “It’s going to require … studios and production company owners taking charge and saying, ‘This is important to me. And when I develop, when I create, when I partner with people, when I cast, I’m going to make my shows look like what America looks like.’ Because people forget — this country is on its way to being majority people of color very soon.”

Credits

Guest:

  • Ri-Karlo Handy - editor and owner of Sunwise Media and the Handy Foundation