Does Racism Impact the Way Reviewers Rate TV Shows?

Does Racism Impact the Way Reviewers Rate TV Shows?

Meagan Good stars in Minority Report

Since the quality of both shows is vastly different, my suspicion is that Minority Report is being canned by reviewers for not catering to whiteness. Minority Report boasts a diverse main cast which along with Meagan Good, includes Wilmer Valderrama and Li Jun Li. Background characters in scenes are heavily filled by people of color, and the city’s mayor is a black man, married to an Asian woman, with a biracial child. Outside of a family of Precogs, white people are few and far between except as suspects who may commit a potential crime. It’s worth noting that this vision of our country’s future racial makeup isn’t too far off. By 2020 white children will become the minority, and come 2040 white people will make up less than 50% of the American population.

In contrast Scream Queens is overwhelmingly white, and littered with racist dialogue. One character is referred to as a “White Mammy” and a “House slave.” Ryan Murphy attempts to write racist characters under the banner of satire with a wink and nudge, but time and time again it falls flat. He has become the Internet troll who is ‘just being racist ironically, you just don’t get the joke.” One who has been trolling so long, it’s not a veneer anymore. It’s come to the point where it seems he is writing racist characters simply because he’s tickled by racism. His history of mistreating black characters is so pervasive, somebody finally asked: “Ryan Murphy, are you racist?”

Earlier this year Nellie Andreeva, the co-editor of Deadline Hollywood, wrote an article titled “Pilots 2015: The Year of Ethnic Castings — About Time or Too Much of Good Thing?” Claiming “the pendulum might have swung a bit too far” when it comes to diverse casting. After admitting black viewers consume more TV than their white counterparts, Andreeva continues:

“With shows as Empire, Black-ish, Scandal and HTGAWM on broadcast, Tyler Perry’s fare on OWN and Mara Brock Akil’s series on BET, they have scripted choices, so the growth in that fraction of the TV audience might have reached its peak.”

The article can be summed up in two sentences: “Haven’t we given you enough?” and “Bring back all the white actors.” Deadline gave a half-hearted apology and renamed the article, but this is barely scratching the surface when it comes to the biases that the media holds against shows led by black actors, and especially black actresses.

There’s something to be said for giving shows a chance to find their ground. Many reviewers and fans have urged people to watch Agents of SHIELD, or Arrow, admitting the first seasons of each shows aren’t great, or should be skipped entirely. It’s kind of alarming that shows with white leads are allowed to have an entire first season of mediocrity (at best) but a show with a black lead actress, who is featured prominently in marketing, is doomed if even one episode underperforms.

I think there’s a larger conversation to be had about how racism effects reviewers and how racial bias is fed to its audience, who in turn ignore a show because that well has been poisoned. At a time where reviewers are asking if “diversity have gone too far” and some are even rooting for black shows to fail, we need to have this conversation sooner rather than later.