As a young female from an ethnic background, diversity is something important, whether that’s in reality shows or TV programs. It is vital to have other cultures incorporated in order to be educated about new perspectives and learn from other people’s experiences.
Reality shows always have a “token minority,” where they add a contestant from a different background to add the pretense of diversity to a homogenous cast. This is a shame as diversity should be accepted on all types of mainstream media.
Reality programs are supposed to engage viewers and provide drama unnecessarily. Whenever I watch a reality show, I always see the same type of people.
According to research conducted at Iowa State University, 90 percent of reality TV contestants are typically Caucasian and skinny. Producers occasionally add in African-Americans to attempt diversity.
The aim of reality TV is to entertain and watch real-life situations unfold, but this cannot happen if other ethnic backgrounds are not being represented.
Take ABC’s “The Bachelor” for example, a show where a guy tries to find love amongst 25 girls and chooses one person to marry. Since the show debuted in 2002, there has always been an overwhelmingly ‘white’ presence, not just with the contestants, but also with the choice of bachelors. Out of the 20 seasons, there has only been one bachelor from a minority background; Juan Pablo, who is Latino.
Fifty-nine percent of black contestants who have appeared on the show usually get voted off early in the seasons, mainly within the first two weeks. In 2013, the number of minority contestants increased to six, but then dropped again the following year to three.
According to CNN, the franchise was also targeted for a class action lawsuit in 2012 alleging racial discrimination. The suit alleged that ABC does not cast people of color because interracial romances would create controversy among the target audience. However, the case was dismissed, saying that the show has the First Amendment right to cast whoever they want.
Competition reality shows such as “Project Runway,” “Survivor” and “Top Chef” are wildly more diverse than “The Bachelor.”
“The Bachelor” portrays an unreflective reality to provide entertainment in fantasy situations, where stereotypes of “young” and “perfect” people want to achieve fame. The show doesn’t truly represent the concept of love and doesn’t reflect today’s America with people from multicultural backgrounds.
People want to see contestants who are similar to themselves, so they can feel more connected whilst watching the shows. Diversity is something that should be celebrated, as it brings people together and provides new perspectives in media.
Seeing the same stereotypes just makes the shows boring and predictable with no variety, which is not beneficial for production companies if they want to be re-commissioned each year.
Another example is CBS’ “Big Brother” which is always criticized for not having a variety of diverse contestants. Big Brother is a show where ordinary people live in a house for a month, complete challenges daily and are evicted weekly until the final two remain and viewers vote on who wins the cash prize.
Over the seventeen seasons, only 19 percent of contestants have been people of color. This show has the tendency for racism with a lot of racial slurs and comments. One contestant told an Asian-American housemate to “shut up” and “go make some rice,” as well as referring to her as Kim Jong Un.
This type of behavior is unacceptable, especially in today’s society when people should be treated fairly and equally.
This raises the question of whether America accepts multiculturalism compared to other countries, whether that is skin color, age, gender or background.
Seeing people similar to me in media makes shows more relatable and fun to watch, as I don’t feel singled out from everyone else. It makes me feel that if they can achieve success and do well, I can also strive to be like them.