Trends: Interracial Couples on Broadcast TV, 2010-2015, Part 2

President Fitzgerald Grant (Tony Goldwyn) and Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) in 'Scandal' (New York Post)

President Fitzgerald Grant (Tony Goldwyn) and Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) in ‘Scandal’ (New York Post)

Happy Friday! Ready for Part 2? (If not, catch up on all the interracial couples of broadcast TV over the past five years, and then come on back!) Here’s the fun part: seeing the data play out in graphs!

First off, here are the basic data tables. Here are the number of new shows and total shows per season per network:

New Shows and Total Shows per Season per Broadcast Network (Excel)

New Shows and Total Shows per Season per Broadcast Network (Sex & Stats)

Those look like relatively big numbers, right?

Here are the number of shows per network per season that featured interracial couples:

Number of Shows Featuring Interracial Couples per Season per Broadcast Network (Excel)

Number of Shows Featuring Interracial Couples per Season per Broadcast Network (Sex & Stats)

There are too many zeroes in that table.

And here’s how the numbers on the interracial couples translate for the percentages of new shows and total shows:

Percentage of New and Total Shows Featuring Interracial Couples per Season per Broadcast Network (Excel)

Percentage of New and Total Shows Featuring Interracial Couples per Season per Broadcast Network (Sex & Stats)

Interracial couples were never part of more than 25% of new shows, and 10% of total shows in any given season. Sad, right?

Next, I wanted to find the breakdown of interracial couplings by season, to see if any one season featured more of one coupling than for others. Here’s the table for that:

Interracial Couples Breakdown by Season, 2010-2015 (Excel)

Interracial Couples Breakdown by Season, 2010-2015 (Sex & Stats)

And the resulting line graph:

 

Interracial Coupling Types on Broadcast TV, 2010-2015 (Sex & Stats)

Interracial Coupling Types on Broadcast TV, 2010-2015 (Sex & Stats)

You may be wondering what that massive spike is at 2012-2013 (I know I was). That was when “The Mindy Project” debuted on Fox, and Mindy Lahiri dating all the white guys really skewed that sample.

Other than that, you can see that the most common racial combinations depicted were white and Black/African-American, and white and Latino/a. Without the spike, I’m betting that the white/Asian combination would’ve fallen somewhere in the middle. South Asian/East Asian couples were rare, as was one coupling with a mixed-race person. (Crazy that a mixed-race person on TV didn’t come around until Tracee Ellis Ross in “Black-ish.”)

I was also curious to see how depictions of interracial couples broke down by network. Here’s that table:

Interracial Couples Breakdown by Network, 2010-2015 (Sex & Stats)

Interracial Couples Breakdown by Network, 2010-2015 (Sex & Stats)

And what it looks like in bar-graph form:

Number of Interracial Couples per Broadcast Network, 2010-2015 (Sex & Stats)

Number of Interracial Couples per Broadcast Network, 2010-2015 (Sex & Stats)

ABC led the charge with White/Black couples, and Fox clearly dominated with the White/Asian combination. ABC also had the broadest range of interracial relationships depicted. CBS showed the most White/Latino couples.

Even though strides have been made in depicting interracial relationships (in quantity, at least), there’s clearly still a long way to go in getting equal representation.

Trends: Interracial Couples on Broadcast TV, 2010-2015, Part 1

Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) and President Fitzgerald Grant (Tony Goldwyn) in 'Scandal' (EW.com)

Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) and President Fitzgerald Grant (Tony Goldwyn) in ‘Scandal’ (EW.com)

Fall TV is back! Ready for your favorite shows to return? Some of the cable companies have already begun to premiere new seasons of their fall shows, and now it’s time for the Big Four networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox) to follow suit.

The primetime premieres of shows new and old start this week, and it’s always interesting to see how much diversity makes it onto our screens. I was curious to see if the incidence of interracial couples on the Big Four networks had risen over the past five years (since trends are a bit slower to infiltrate there). I looked at incoming shows (i.e. those that started with pilots), and didn’t count returning ones. I was mainly looking for romantic couples, but noted platonic ones and love interests as well.

Part 1 explores the findings, and Part 2 (which will be published tomorrow) will show change-over-time trends with tables and graphs.

And now to the findings:

2010-2011:

Brad (Damon Wayans Jr.) and Jane (Eliza Coupe) in 'Happy Endings' (Oh No They Didn't)

Brad (Damon Wayans Jr.) and Jane (Eliza Coupe) in ‘Happy Endings’ (Oh No They Didn’t)

ABC: 3 shows/4 couples

  • Happy Endings: African-American man Brad Williams (Damon Wayans Jr.) is married to white woman Jane Kerkovich-Williams (Eliza Coupe).
  • My Generation: White guy Steven Foster (Michael Stahl-David) had a one-night-stand with Caroline Chung (Annie Son) in high school, which resulted in a child. Also, African-American Rolly Marks (Mehcad Brooks) is married to Dawn Barbuso (Kelli Garner), who’s white.
  • Off The Map: African-American man Dr. Otis Cole (Jason Winston George) has a relationship with Latina Zee Toledo Alvarez (Valeria Cruz).

CBS: 0 shows

For shame, CBS.

Fox: 1 show/0 couples

  • Breaking In: Melanie Garcia (Odette Annable) was the love interest to white guy Cameron Price (Bret Harrison).

NBC: 1 show/0 couples

  • Outsourced: The show implied a future between white Todd Dempsy (Ben Rappaport) and Indian woman Asha (Rebecca Hazlewood).

 

2011-2012:

President Fitzgerald Grant (Tony Goldwyn) and Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) in 'Scandal' (New York Post)

President Fitzgerald Grant (Tony Goldwyn) and Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) in ‘Scandal’ (New York Post)

ABC: 1 shows/1 couple

  • Scandal: Washington fixer Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) starts/continues (spoiler?) a relationship with President Fitzgerald Grant (Tony Goldwyn).

CBS: 1 show/1 couple

  • Rob: White guy (Rob Schneider) marries Maggie (Claudia Bassols), and gets to know her Mexican-American family. (Incidentally, Schneider isn’t completely white, but is of partial Filipino descent.)

Fox: 2 shows/1 couple

  • I Hate My Teenage Daughter: White woman Nikki Miller (Kate Finneran) raises her biracial daughter Mackenzie (Aisha Dee), with help from her ex-husband Gary (Chad L. Coleman).
  • Touch: Kiefer Sutherland and British actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw’s characters’ relationship was strictly platonic.

NBC: 0 shows

This was the second season in a row that the network had no shows with interracial couples.

 

2012-2013:

Dr. Mindy Lahiri (Mindy Kaling) and Casey (Anders Holm) in 'The Mindy Project' (Fox)

Dr. Mindy Lahiri (Mindy Kaling) and Casey (Anders Holm) in ‘The Mindy Project’ (Fox)

ABC: 2 shows/4 couples

  • Mistresses: White woman Savi (Alyssa Milano) sleeps with her African-American coworker Dominic (Jason George). Asian-American Dr. Karen Kim (Yunjin Kim) sleeps with her patient, Thomas Grey (John Schneider). Latina single mom April (Rochelle Aytes) dates white man Richard (Cameron Bender).
  • The Neighbors: African-American woman Jackie Joyner-Kersee (Toks Olagundoye) is in a couple with white man/fellow alien Larry Bird (Simon Templeman).

CBS: 2 shows/2 couples

  • Elementary: Sherlock Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller) is white, and Dr. Joan Watson is Asian (Lucy Liu).
  • Golden Boy: Latino detective Christian Arroyo (Kevin Alejandro) has an affair with white fellow detective Deb McKenzie (Bonnie Somerville)

Fox: 1 show/9 couples

  • The Mindy Project: Indian OB-GYN Mindy Lahiri (Mindy Kaling) dates all the white guys: Dennis (Ed Helms), Matt (Seth Meyers), Josh (Tommy Dewey), Brendan (Mark Duplass), Jamie (B.J. Novak), Sam (Seth Rogen), Adam (Josh Meyers), and Casey (Anders Holm). She also flirts heavily with co-worker Danny (Chris Messina).

NBC: 1 show/0 couples

  • Do No Harm: Dr. Lena Solis (Alana de la Garza) was the love interest of Dr. Jason Cole (Steven Pasquale).

 

2013-2014:

Ichabod Crane (Tom Mison) and Abbie Mills (Nicole Beharie) in 'Sleepy Hollow' (The Chiefly)

Ichabod Crane (Tom Mison) and Abbie Mills (Nicole Beharie) in ‘Sleepy Hollow’ (The Chiefly)

ABC: 0 shows/0 couples

A rare no-show for interracial couples this season from ABC.

CBS: 1 show/1 couple

  • Extant: Astronaut Molly Woods (Halle Berry) is married to Dr. John Woods (Goran Visnjic).

Fox: 3 shows/3 couples

  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine: Jake Peralta (Andy Samberg) crushes on his Cuban-American partner Amy Santiago (Melissa Fumero).
  • Gang Related: Vee Dotsen (Inbar Levi) and Tae Kim (Sung Kang) are a couple.
  • Sleepy Hollow: Abbie Mills (Nicole Beharie) and Ichabod Crane (Tom Mison) work together to protect their town.

NBC: 1 show/1 couple

  • Welcome to the Family: A white girl (Ella Rae Peck) and her Latino boyfriend (Joey Haro) get pregnant right out of high school.

 

2014-2015:

Rebecca Sutter (Katie Findlay) and Wes Gibbins (Alfred Enoch) in 'How to Get Away with Murder' (World News)

Rebecca Sutter (Katie Findlay) and Wes Gibbins (Alfred Enoch) in ‘How to Get Away with Murder’ (World News)

ABC: 4 shows/7 couples

  • Black-ish: African-American advertising executive Andre Johnson (Anthony Anderson) is married to Rainbow (Tracee Ellis Ross), a mixed-race surgeon.
  • Cristela: A Latina attorney (Cristela Alonzo) spars with her white co-worker (Andrew Leeds).
  • How to Get Away with Murder: Too many to count! Annalise Keating (Viola Davis) is married to Sam Keating (Tom Verica). Law student Connor Walsh dates Oliver Ricamora (Jack Falahee). Law student Laurel Castillo (Karla Souza) dates Kan (Arjun Gupta). And main character/audience-surrogate Wes Gibbins (Alfred Enoch) sleeps with Rebecca Sutter (Katie Findlay).
  • Selfie: Marketing guru Henry Higgs (John Cho) tries to reform Eliza Dooley (Karen Gillan).

CBS: 0 shows/0 couples

No interracial couples from this network this year.

Fox: 0 shows/0 couples

Same as CBS.

NBC: 1 show/1 couple

  • The Slap: Hector Apostolou (Peter Sarsgaard) is in an interracial marriage with Aisha (Thandie Newton).

 

Looks like a lot, right? Check back tomorrow for Part 2 where I’ll look at the actual numbers!

Twitter Announces Diversity Goals for 2016

Twitter logo (Design Trend)

Twitter logo (Design Trend)

Last week, Twitter announced its goals to diversify the company’s employees in 2016. The goals focused on increasing the presence of female and non-white employees. For the women, this includes reaching 35% women overall in the company, with 16% of tech roles going to women and 25% of leadership roles getting filled by women. For minorities, the goals are bringing the number to 11% in the overall company, with 9% of tech roles and 6% of leadership roles. Interestingly, the goals for minorities are marked with a literal asterisk, and apply to within the US only. (I’d like to know the reasoning behind that, and I’m sure I’m not the only one.)

This follows Twitter’s identifying and committing to diversity as a workplace issue. Last year, the company shared its diversity numbers. Spoiler alert (or not): it’s a whole lotta white dudes. While the company overall is about 70% male/30% female, it skews more guy-heavy in the tech section. Ethnically speaking, white and Asian employees comprise the largest portions, at nearly 60% and 30% respectively. Employees who self-identify as Hispanic or Latino or as Black or African-American make up only about 5% of the Twitter workforce.

Even though it looks like Twitter’s taking some big steps forward, Julia Greenberg at “Wired” points out that these steps are actually pretty small:

As it stands now, the company already has 34 percent women on its staff, with 13 percent in tech roles and 22 percent in leadership roles—not too far off from its goals. With 4,100 employees worldwide currently, the difference would be adding at least 41 women to reach its overall gender goal (though it would depend on the company’s growth).

Twitter is just the latest in a line of tech companies who’ve released their not-so-diverse data (following Facebook and Google, among others). It’ll be interesting to see how these goals will change due to supply and demand over time.

American Ballet Theatre Promotes Filipina-American Stella Abrera to Principal Dancer

Stella Abrera (Ballet UK)

Stella Abrera (Ballet UK)

By now, I’m sure you’ve heard that New York City’s American Ballet Theatre (ABT) recently promoted dancer Misty Copeland to principal, making her the first Black principal in the company’s 75-year history. But that wasn’t the only important promotion that was made.

Stella Abrera became the first Filipina-American to ascend to the rank of principal. (Two promotions, two history-makers this round for the ABT, if you’re keeping track.) She was born in the Philippines and moved to the U.S. when she was four years old. Beginning in Pasadena, Abrera also studied ballet in San Diego and Sydney, Australia. She joined ABT in 1996, and became a soloist in 2001. Abrera’s various roles have included the titular role in “Cinderella,” Emilia in “Othello,” and Clara and The Snow Queen in different versions of “The Nutcracker.”

Ballet is an art form notorious for having little diversity. I hope Abrera’s promotion (and Copeland’s) opens the door for more non-white dancers.

 

Diversity Amongst Principal Dancers in Top Ballet Companies: By The Numbers

San Francisco Ballet's Yuan Yuan Tan and Davit Karapetyan in George Balanchine's 'Scotch Symphony,' 2012 (Odette's Ordeal)

San Francisco Ballet’s Yuan Yuan Tan and Davit Karapetyan in George Balanchine’s ‘Scotch Symphony,’ 2012 (Odette’s Ordeal)

It’s a well-known fact that classical ballet companies aren’t known for their diversity. With the news that American Ballet Theatre (ABT) dancer Misty Copeland has been promoted to principal, I was curious to see just how (non-) diverse the major ballet companies are.

First, I identified the top classical ballet companies in the U.S.: ABT, New York City Ballet (NYCB), San Francisco Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, and Houston Ballet. (I didn’t look at Chicago’s Joffrey Ballet because the company doesn’t use traditional levels, as far as I could tell.)

Next, I looked at each company’s roster, looking for diversity. I decided to narrow my search to solely the principal dancers to save time. I then made a spreadsheet of my findings:

Principal Dancer Diversity at Top Ballet Companies Excel Spreadsheet

Principal Dancer Diversity at Top Ballet Companies Excel Spreadsheet

The first glaring thing is none of the companies have any Black principals at this time. (Copeland will change that when she begins her new position in August.) Every company listed has at least one principal of Asian descent, and San Francisco has two.

Here’s how the various companies break down.

American Ballet Theatre (ABT):

ABT has 15 principal dancers. Four Latino/Latina dancers make up 25%+ of the company’s diversity.

Houston Ballet:

Houston Ballet has the smallest group of principals with just eight dancers. The one Asian dancer and one Latina dancer combine to make up 25% of the diversity.

New York City Ballet (NYCB):

NYCB has the highest number of principal dancers at 24. Latino/Latina dancers comprise 12%+. Though not noted above, NYCB also features one dancer of South Asian descent.

Pacific Northwest Ballet:

This company has the worst diversity score. No Black or Latino/Latina dancers, and only one Asian dancer, in a group of 12 principals.

San Francisco Ballet:

With six dancers among 20 principals, San Francisco Ballet’s Latino/Latina contingent make up 30% of that company’s diversity, the largest of the studied cohort. Though not noted above, the company also features one dancer of South Asian descent.

Thursday Trends: Whitewashing Asian Characters in Film

Emma Stone, 'Aloha' (Jezebel)

Emma Stone, ‘Aloha’ (Jezebel)

Let me be clear: this is not a good trend. At all. It should never have even started. And yet, here we are.

It’s still a problem.

Historically, Hollywood has always had a problem of “whitewashing,” i.e. casting white actors in roles specifically created for non-whites. The thinking is that whites are more “bankable,” but there aren’t many roles and opportunities for non-white actors as it is. So a white actor ends up taking a role from a non-white one, and many non-white people are deprived of seeing depictions of themselves on-screen.

This tends to happen a lot with Asian actors. Most recently, director Cameron Crowe came under fire for casting Emma Stone in his latest movie “Aloha.” Stone was cast as a character named Allison Ng, whose ancestry is one-quarter Chinese and one-quarter Hawaiian. (Having white and Asian or Pacific Islander ancestry is traditionally known as “hapa,” deriving from the Hawaiian Pidgin word for half. So Ng’s heritage would be termed “hapa” or “hapa haole,” to include the European ancestry.)

Look at the picture above and tell me with a straight face that Emma Stone resembles anyone remotely half-Asian.

Fortunately, Crowe caught some heat for this decision, and has publicly apologized for his choice. (But he covered his ass a little, saying that the character was meant to be frustrated that her features belied her mixed-race heritage.) But Crowe could’ve easily cast an Asian or mixed-race Asian for his film. He just chose not to.

This whitewashing of Asian characters tends to come up every few years. 2010’s “The Last Airbender” received a public outcry when it was revealed that the cast was mostly non-white actors, save for Dev Patel. (The debacle coined the term “race bending.”) This was odd considering that the TV series (on which the movie was based) was set in a world with obvious Asian elements, and it was animated using anime influence.

The 2008 movie “21” centered on the real-life story of the MIT Blackjack Team, a group of current and former students who beat the casinos at their own game by counting cards. Though many of the group were of Indian and Asian descent, the movie whitewashed the cast, using mostly Caucasian actors.

And then there are the times when white actors are actually put in yellowface. 2012’s “Cloud Atlas,” which had the ensemble actors playing various characters, actually had two examples of this, and took it past the point of no return: Jim Sturgess (who was also in “21”) and James D’Arcy both played Korean men at one point. Sturgess and D’Arcy are both white men, but they both spent extensive time in makeup to more realistically resemble Asian men.

This is far from a new problem. The 1956 film “Teahouse of the August Moon” featured legendary actor Marlon Brando as Japanese villager Sakini, donning full-on yellowface to physically embody the role. And everyone who’s seen 1961’s “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” remembers Mickey Rooney as Holly Golightly’s Japanese neighbor I.Y. Yunioshi, who, seen through modern eyes, was a jaw-droopingly offensive caricature. (“The New York Times” review of the film called Rooney “broadly exotic.”) Fortunately, the distance of time and perspective have allowed people to see that these portrayals were very offensive towards Asians, and it was wrong to a) write/portray the characters in such stereotypical ways, and b) cast actors not of the specific ethnicity to play these parts.

But maybe the message isn’t sinking in as much as it should be: Blonde, Caucasian actress Scarlett Johansson will star in DreamWorks’ adaptation of the anime title “Ghost in the Shell.”

Here’s the thing: There are so many asian and mixed-Asian actors out there. Kristin Kreuk, Chloe Bennet, Olivia Munn, John Cho, Steven Yeun, Daniel Henney, Harry Shum Jr., Sendhil Ramamurthy. And those are only the ones I didn’t need to Google off the top of my head. Point being, there’s massive opportunity here for diverse casting that reflects reality. So let’s get on it!

#ThrowbackThursday: Luise Ranier in “The Good Earth,” 1937

Luise Ranier, 'The Good Earth' (Rotten Tomatoes)

Luise Ranier, ‘The Good Earth’ (Rotten Tomatoes)

In 1937, actress Luise Ranier starred in a film adaptation of Pearl S. Buck’s novel “The Good Earth.” The plot centers on  the rise and fall of a Chinese family’s fortunes. Ranier played O-Lan, the family matriarch.

Ranier, who was born and spent her childhood in Germany, was Caucasian.

She became one of the first instances of Hollywood’s whitewashing: casting a white actor in a non-white role. Thus began the film industry’s troubled history with diversity on screen. But I guess it worked out for Ranier: she won an Oscar for Best Actress.