5 Diverse TV Shows you should Watch Now!
Diversity is taking a stronger foothold in television than it has ever had before. In the past, there were “diverse” shows but in general, they were targeted at certain demographics, rather than the television viewing population as a whole. Now many shows are taking chances and instead of being politically correct by being “inclusive” by having a token character of color — they are casting the vast majority of their shows with diverse characters. The beauty in this is these shows are empowering and validating for some people of color seeing these characters in powerful positions and under a positive light. Many of the characters are in leading roles or stronger roles, instead of being cast to the background. Often these shows reflect a version of our world that is not just a sea of one shade or tone but rather a plethora of tones with different cultural and religious backgrounds.
The show runners took this approach as a way to draw in more viewers and pushing the limits of the television viewing audience. The thrilling part in all of this is these shows are doing so well, it’s a wonder that television didn’t do this sooner.
This list complies of some of the best shows on television. Shows that not only embrace diversity but showcase these characters in powerful positive roles.
Quantico makes the top of the list by having a cast made almost inclusively full of diverse characters. From the leading lady Alex Parrish, played by Indian actress Priyanka Chopra to the African-American Academy director played by Aunjanue Ellis, this show sets up the world, ala Shonda Rimes style, filled with drama and sexual intrigue. It proves just how well a diverse cast can carry a show. The vast majority of the characters are not Caucasian and everyone has a dark secret. The heart of the show lies in the shifts between the present day Parrish maneuvering her way through the FBI academy at Quantico to the near future, where the story slowly explains a terrorist attack putting Parrish in the center of it. This back and forth storytelling keeps the viewer engaged in the show and allows plot points to be spread out nicely over the course of the 22 episodes. The good news is Quantico has done so well in the first season it is already green-lighted for a second season.
Crazy Ex- Girlfriend –
The one show on the list that showcases an Asian-American love interest. Most notably, one of the few shows out there with a Filipino-American in the leading male role. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend follows depressed Rebecca Bunch as she leaves her corporate lawyer job in New York to follow the love of her life, Filipino-American Josh Chan, to West Covina, CA. A musical comedy this show fleshes out the cast with a host of diverse characters in the principle cast that include Josh’s girlfriend Valencia Perez, Rebecca’s friend Heather Davis, and Josh’s friend Father Brah. The show seamlessly incorporates diverse characters without making it obvious. The only character whose racial background is explored is Josh Chan’s family. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend pokes fun at the Chans during a Thanksgiving celebration and during a family get together. It showcases an often under-served Filipino audience by presenting ideas about Filipino-Americans in a non-stereotypical manner. The diverse characters feel organic and a reflection of the world we live in today. Additionally, the show doesn’t shy away from breaking up unhealthy relationships and exploring the sensitive mental health of Bunch.
Emerald City –
NBC took a chance with this new series on Friday nights. Adria Arjona, a Puerto Rican actress, plays the principle character of Dorothy. Scrapping the typical kind of casting NBC decided to fill the show with a host of characters of color from Mido Hamada who plays Eamonn / Lion and Jordan Loughran who plays Tip / Ozma. Truly, this show pushes aside any dealings with race and instead organically inserts diverse without making it look too over done. Even the extras in the background are mostly made up of a diverse spectrum, which makes the World of Oz look like a very diverse world in contrast to Kansas in the pilot episode.
Luke Cage –
Truly a Defender series breakthrough Luke Cage set in Harlem reflects the demographic diversity that makes up the area. Which in case you didn’t know is largely African-American and Latino-American. The show is filled with African-American, Latino-American and Asian-American characters. While there are white characters fleshing out the show it is almost unheard of to have a fantasy made up of almost an entirely diverse cast. There were a few screams about how “racist” the show is and questioning why there is a lack of Caucasian characters on the show. With this in mind, Luke Cage was added to the list because it is one of the few shows that embraces diversity so much in a genre that generally doesn’t display diversity. Luke Cage shows how diversity can still deal with racial issues within a community while still remaining true to the fantasy elements of the show. Although there is a bit of corniness with Luke’s lines, such as his frequent use “Sweet Christmas” to remove swear words, the show still delivers a powerful message of diversity and racial injustice.
An original show from Netflix Brazil. This show takes the YA dystopian series and throws it for a loop. Much in the YA fashion, they fill the show with diverse characters, however, that’s where the similarities end. Instead of pushing non-Caucasian characters to the background they actually thrust them forward. 3% confuses the viewer about who is the lead character by expanding upon all the major characters. There are interracial relationships and a large portion of the cast is filled with characters from a magnitude of backgrounds like the powerful Joanna and wheelchair bound Fernando. Arguably, since the show is filmed in Brazil it is already forward thinking with almost all the characters coming from a largely Latino background. With this in mind, the show seamlessly incorporates characters of color. 3% writes off characters equally in a Game of Thrones style, which no single character is safe. It’s a fresh take on YA shows and sends a powerful message that diversity can work perfectly on a TV show and directly reflect the world around us.
* Bonus Into the Badlands –
AMC’s kung-fun inspired drama makes the list as a bonus show. While a large portion of the diversity is made up in the background and side characters Into the Badlands is included because the lead character is an Asian-American man. To top that he enters into a relationship with an African-American woman which displays their relationship in a very positive light. This pairing is largely underrepresented in entertainment. It is actually, because the author of this article is in the same interracial marriage, refreshing to see this relationship stay strong the entire first season. Sunny is a Regent for the local Baron, Quinn; this show is a far retelling of Journey into the West. He enters into a relationship with Veil, which is forbidden and goes even further by getting her pregnant. Spurred by his love for Veil and the fear of losing his future child Sunny embarks on a journey to free himself and Veil from the tyranny of the Baron. Although, there is a lot of cheese on the part of Sunny’s line delivery it is a fun and fast-paced kung-fu story that earns it a stop on this list. Fans have enjoyed this show so much AMC has already green lighted a season two.