Another call for commercial television to increase its multicultural representation is issued today, this time in an excellent article by journalist Melinda Houston in the Sunday Age.
She notes audiences show no indiction of shunning shows with strong ethnic diversity, citing the hits of Underbelly, Australian Idol and The Biggest Loser:
For a nation where 90 per cent of the population can trace their lineage to somewhere else, Australian television is strangely coy about depicting reality. With the noteworthy exception of City Homicide (where indigenous actor Aaron Pedersen forms part of the force without comment) and, of course, Underbelly, the top-rating local shows of 2008 were intensely Anglo in their casting. Or, as Britain’s racial equality chief, Trevor Phillips, put it last year, “hideously white”.
Yes, mainstream Australian television is so bizarrely and inappropriately Anglo-centric even the Poms have started to notice. When Phillips initiated an inquiry into racial depictions on television following a shameful exchange on Britain’s Celebrity Big Brother in 2007, two of the series singled out for criticism by English viewers were Neighbours and Home and Away.
Neighbours producer Susan Bowers responded by saying she was aware of the problem, and had been working to get more ethnic diversity into the cast, starting with extras, progressing to walk-ons and small speaking roles, and in 2009 introducing a young Korean actor, Hany Lee, as part of the permanent cast.
So there you go. Erinsborough will now have one Asian resident. Unlike every other suburb in Melbourne, which has about one squillion. Not to mention the Greeks, Italians, Lebanese, Indians and Pakistanis, Arabs and Africans who have long constituted the Melbourne most of us see when we look out the front door rather than at the box.
As the rest of the article (which you can read here) notes, it’s SBS where the ethnic diversity remains hig.
Idol and So You Think You Can Dance remain standouts on TEN. ABC’s The Librarians is another contender. Some game shows sustain visible representation, yet only a handful of News programmes have even considered this issue in any tangible way.
Even US shows like Survivor and, particularly The Amazing Race, have addressed casting issues. Grey’s Anatomy prides itself on casting “blind,” casting roles on skill not race.
There are other issues in casting that often remain low on the agenda, depending on the genre, including: seniors, disabled, gay and lesbian and even women co-hosts are frequently seen in secondary hosting roles whenever beside a male -why is that?
Which other shows would you nominate as delivering diversity, or is this a non-issue to you?
Source: The Age