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UPLIFTT | March 29, 2017

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The bad news about diversity in Television’s fall lineup!

The bad news about diversity in Television’s fall lineup!

As the summer ends and fall arrives, so does a new lineup of network/cable television. The good news is that this season promises more diversity on television platforms.  The bad news is that the diversity seems to be largely excluding Latinos in new or returning programming. Shows like Empire, Scandal, and Blackish featuring prominent Black characters are returning. As well as shows featuring prominent Asian characters like The Mindy Project, Fresh Off The Boat, along with the addition of Dr. Ken, and Quantico.

The only returning shows featuring prominent Latino characters are Jane The Virgin, Devious Maids, The Fosters, Chicago Fire, and Chicago PD. Still, these are established shows that already have a following and it’s clear that there are no new shows being added that feature prominent Latino or Latina characters in them.

The rest of the fall television lineup feature more of the same predominantly white characters and casts with a few sprinkles of ethnic and racial tokenism. HBO’s comedy series, The Brink, is set to return indefinitely with the iconic Esai Morales continuing his role as president of the United States. Although we should not fool ourselves. Latino representation is sparse in television and film, let alone representations that don’t play into a stereotype. Devious Maids continues to perpetuate the stereotypes of ditzy, conniving, ignorant and promiscuous Latinas. Yet it is one of the very few shows returning that feature a predominantly Latino cast and characters. Jane The Virgin tries to take a more positive, pseudo-feminist approach but at the end of the day it still plays into a stereotype. The unmarried, pregnant Latina caught in a love triangle with questionability of her child’s father is perhaps one of the most despicable Latino stereotypes.

Frankly, it makes me nauseous when I step back and look at the big picture of how we are being portrayed. It seems that the small screen not only wants to ignore our existence but when they do acknowledge us, we are portrayed as anything but intellectual or multi-dimensional. Clearly the Latino gatekeepers of media are content with the current creative landscape. Perhaps our only hope of accurate representation may come from the indie market or subscription services like Netflix or Hulu. As of right now those outlets don’t offer much difference than network or cable TV.

As a final thought I will leave you all with a question. Can we truly say that there is diversity in the arts when a large ethnic and racial consumer demographic is ignored? My opinion is that as long as we are ignored, marginalized, and patronized the answer to my question will continue to be the same. To be as blunt as possible, the answer is: no fucking way!

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Contributing writer and creative director, John Anthony, is a freelance writer with a BA in literature. He also minored in TV/Radio production & political science. He was born and raised in the BX. He’s Nuyorican & Italian American. He’s done everything from grad school research to creative writing and performance. He is a huge fan of film, television, books, poetry, and music. He feels he can provide a unique perspective on Latinos in the media and cultural issues that pertain to Latinos in America, especially on the East Coast. Follow him on Twitter: @imjohnanthony

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