Reality TV Is Certainly Diverse. But At What Cost?


Reality television is filled with gay, black, Asian, trans, Hispanic, and — soon to be inevitably cast — aliens. But scripted television? The kind you find on the three-letter networks? Not so much. Is it because reality TV producers are such great proponents of diversity … or do they just love each demographic acting stereotypically in front of the camera?

[…] a report released last year by the National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People, titled “Out of Focus — Out of Sync,” accused the networks of perpetuating a view of the nation that recalls “America’s segregated past.” The 40-page report charged that non-whites are underrepresented in almost every aspect of the television industry — except for reality programming.

That’s no accident, according to reality TV producers and creators.

“We’re looking to create shows that everyday people can relate to, and for that you really need a true representation of the population,” said Dave Broome, executive producer of NBC’s “The Biggest Loser.”

“A couple of seasons ago, there was an over-the-top character who was white that we could have cast, but we sacrificed that for a Latino. That’s how important that is.”

The culture mix is driven by more than just political correctness. Although reality shows aren’t directly in the business of bringing racial and ethnic enlightenment to America, they are in business. For shows that thrive on conflict and drama, a collection of cast members from varied backgrounds often serves that goal. Unresolved issues surrounding race, class and sexual orientation can either quietly fuel tension on programs or generate outright emotional explosions. [LAT]