Pivot were also worried about Please Like Me casting

Yesterday Josh Thomas surprisingly apologised for comments he made in 2016 around the challenges of casting and how he wanted to make Please Like Me more diverse.

In 2014 he told TV Tonight casting had also been a concern to US network Pivot.

“They were really worried about our racial diversity casting, but so was I. The show is quite white, and I get really frustrated that Australian television is quite white,” he said at the time.

“It’s always been something I’d criticised, but we cast with who we could find and they were quite white. But also a lot (of characters) were family members, so you kind of get stuck. We tried to do better, but we didn’t do that much better in Season Two.

“It’s a thing I want there to be more of on television, but then when you’re casting you can’t really force it. You can’t go with someone who you don’t think is as good a match to a character, just because they are a different race.”

Compared to many scripted comedies in 2013 Please Like Me actually had some strong representation, including characters who were gay / lesbian, seniors and Asian-Australian. The  New York Times even included it on its list of the Best International TV Shows of the Decade at #19.

The role of Ginger, who befriended on screen-mother Rose (Debra Lawrance) was cast from a very wide field.

“‘Ginger’ didn’t have an age in the casting process. We looked at 20-somethings to Denise Drysdale,” he explained.

Drysdale eventually landed the role to much acclaim.

In his latest series Everything’s Gonna Be Okay, Thomas has cast performers who are LGBTQi, black and actors on the autism spectrum.

And a St.Bernard dog.

5 Comments:

  1. Josh was very worried about the racial diversity of his show. If only he were in some sort of position to do something about that…

    Given that TV is notoriously white, if the network exec is the wokest voice in the room, you’ve got a problem. Yes, he has represented seniors, LGBT, etc. but that’s not what the complaint is here. Pivot was talking about racial diversity.

    He had one Asian-Australian as part of the main cast, and that was Renee Lim whose character was playing into the “Old white guy with an ‘exotic’ wife” trope. Glad he saw fit that an Asian actress would be a “match” for that one but for some reason a person of colour wouldn’t “match” any of his character’s friends or dates (all characters that he himself wrote). What was so essential about those characters being white? The fact is, if racial diversity was as important to him as he claims (like, say,…

    • The fact is, if racial diversity was as important to him as he claims, his series would have been racially diverse. (Like, say, queer diversity) Actions speak louder than words.

  2. People from diverse ethnic backgrounds wouldn’t really fit into Josh’s nihilistic world and it would’ve come across as disingenuous and frankly disrespectful to the people/cultures that they claim to be representing. It’s no coincidence that people from Eastern/African backgrounds seldom apply to appear in trashy dating shows, but are more visible on family-friendly fare such as game shows and MasterChef (basically anything unlikely to humiliate them and/or their families as their cultures are likely to consider certain vices to be best kept private).

    I’ve watched Please Like Me on and off and fail to see how “diversity” would have enhanced it. It appeared to be a mostly honest reflection of the lifestyles of nihilistic millennials from Anglo-Saxon backgrounds, and there’s nothing necessarily wrong with depicting specific types of people if the narrative/context calls for it.

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