The Christian Science Monitor : 2020-12-07

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ARTS AND CULTURE “ONE DAY AT A TIME”: The reboot of the 1970s sitcom from Norman Lear stars (left to right) Isabella Gómez, Justina Machado, and Marcel Ruiz. amount of FM radio stations,” says Carolyn Byerly, chair of the communicat­ion, culture, and media studies department at Howard University in Washington, D.C. “It’s not sexy ... to look at things like finance and ownership and policy, but that’s really what determines what you see and hear.” “Television is still a pretty white world in many ways,” she adds. Research suggests that situation is disproport­ional to who is actually consuming entertainm­ent, and to the variety of experience­s consumers might be hoping to see reflected. A majority of moviegoers are people of color, according to the Hollywood Diversity Report 2020 from the University of California, Los Angeles. And viewingtra­cker Nielsen reports that African Americans consume more traditiona­l television than the rest of the population. Popular programs featuring Black and Latino ensembles also have been increasing since the 1970s – as have campaigns to get actors of color more attention, like #EmmysSoWhi­te. “The Cosby Show”(19841992), “George Lopez” (2002-2007), and the “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” (19901996), whose 30-year cast reunion debuted on HBO Max in November, are among the pioneers. They offered a path to more recent programs like “Black-ish” (ABC), “Insecure” (HBO), “Empire” (Fox), and “Vida” (Starz). “Scripted television has been ahead of documentar­ies in terms of telling more Black stories or the Latin experience, and also telling more economical­ly diverse Black stories,” says Steve James, the director and co-writer of 1994’s award-winning “Hoop Dreams.” He recently debuted “City So Real,” a five-part documentar­y series about Chicago, on National Geographic. Hollywood has not capitalize­d on the fact that minorities are not a niche audience, Mr. James says, and documentar­ians have often fallen down that rabbit hole as well. “In the documentar­y world, there’s a tendency to focus on only desperate and tragic stories of people of color because they’re dramatic and they’re about social issues and on and on and on. There’s been a lack of attention to the sheer diversity of the communitie­s of color within those communitie­s themselves.” “The Cosby Show” was appointmen­t TV when Tikenya Foster-Singletary, a senior lecturer in the English department at Spelman College in Atlanta, was younger. MIKE YARISH/NETFLIX As diversity on TV grows, viewers crave authentici­ty Change is afoot as more people of color are included in the creative process. of “One Day at a Time,” another 1970s sitcom about a divorced working mom and her kids. “Your heart gets broken from that again and again when, especially right now, there’s such a deep starvation for representa­tion of Latino people on television.” By Rochelle O’Gorman / Correspond­ent W Aligning programs with audience hen legendary producer Norman Lear created iconic sitcoms in the 1970s like “Sanford and Son” and “The Jeffersons,” American society was reeling from civil rights protests and political upheaval. Instead of steering clear of controvers­y, he added shows with nearly all-Black casts. Today, in a similar time of enormous protest and division, stories on television – and those who tell them – are becoming more diverse. While barriers still exist, opportunit­ies both in front of and behind the camera are improving for Black, Latino, Asian, and Indigenous people. One hurdle they hope to address is making sure what’s represente­d on the small screen is more authentic. “Whenever there are Latino shows on I get excited, and so many people in my community get excited, and then we watch it and we can feel the artifice,” says writer and producer Gloria Calderón Kellett, who Mr. Lear approached to help helm a reboot For Ms. Kellett and others trying to push for progress, involvemen­t in the creative process is important in an industry where writers’ rooms and media ownership are largely homogenous. White men own most TV stations and “women own about 6% of television stations and about the same “We can feel the artifice. Your heart gets broken from that again and again when, especially right now, there’s such a deep starvation for representa­tion of Latino people on television.” – Gloria Calderón Kellett, writer and producer 36 THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR WEEKLY | DECEMBER 7, 2020 PRINTED AND DISTRIBUTE­D BY PRESSREADE­R PressReade­ +1 604 278 4604 ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY COPYRIGHT AND PROTECTED BY APPLICABLE LAW