Diversity on television shows has been scarce for decades. Although many leading networks have been pressured to diversify, leading characters on scripted prime time shows still predominately consist of white, young and prosperous actors.

Now, reality television programs are including a wider range of not only race and class, but of age and sexual orientation as well.

According to a report by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, non-whites are inadequately represented in almost every type of television programs except for reality programming. The mix serves its purpose as what Dave Broome, executive producer of NBC’s “The Biggest Loser,” puts as “a true representation of the population.”

However, the industry also views the combination of various backgrounds as a source of drama (something on which reality programming flourishes), seeing as issues revolving around class, race and sexual orientation tend to fuel tensions both big and small.

Though scripted programs are often written with a mindset of limited diversity, several shows such as ABC’s “Ugly Betty” and “Desperate Housewives,” have begun to help pave the way for more diversity in various aspects of television media.

Much like how professional sports broke out of racial barriers earlier in the century, the exposure of mixed cultures may eventually create a breakthrough on modern television.

– written by Huong Pham


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