There has been a lot of conversation and debate about the lack diversity, specifically African-American, in mainstream television.
“American Horror Story: Coven” switched things up last season when it comes to race and diversity and looked into a script that is Voodoo inspired and took viewers back to slavery in Louisiana the 1800s.
However, TV and Entertainment reporter for the LA Times, Greg Braxton said that when shows are set the south like “American Horror Story: Coven, the depiction of race can be backwards. “There is a disconnect with the real racial importance and makeup of those regions,” he said.
Braxton continued to say how producers feel pressure to make the cast more diverse, where they say ‘I just want to hire the right person and that is what is important to me.’ “Well, the ‘best person’ always turns out to be white” Braxton said. “The mindset of racism is still out there and there is no outside pressure to change course.”
Yet, “American Horror Story: Coven” had black actresses as main characters. Gabourey “Gabby” Sidibe, the actress playing Queenie, first made it to the big screen in 2009 in the movie “Precious.” This large-figured, dark-skin woman brought something special to the screen then, and is doing the same to AHS.
“I grew up on white girl shit, like Charmed and Sabrina the Teenage Cracker,” Queenie said in one episode.
Madame LaLaurie, a white woman and iconic historical figure from New Orleans, leads the racially explicit theme. In the show LaLaurie, a woman who was known to tear the faces off her slaves for fun, creates an interesting twist to the show when she is brought into the modern world with Queenie thanks to a spell cast on her many years ago.
But if you take a look closely at the finer details, the white portion of the show had an institution where it was organized and had a counsel among the school and the black part of the show as chaotic. Andrea Bassett’s character, Voodoo queen who owns a hair salon and clashed with the witch’s coven, was the stereotypical “angry black woman,” according to the adjunct instructor, Ron Taylor, at Columbia College Chicago’s Semester in LA program.
When it comes to these producers, many would question how could they not see the world they live in and that is it so diverse, and why do producers continue to fail at bringing more ethnic diversity to prime time television? What is so amazing about the shows that do show diversity is that you get to see a back story of all kinds of rich cultures that you may never had the opportunity to see before. However, “there is still this discomfort,” Braxton said. “It is okay to be diverse, but you have to be safe.”
Some may argue that at the end of the day, shows like “American Horror Story: Coven” and even ABCs “Blackish” are just trying to be diverse in order to get more views. Sure, the writers are probably trying to raise awareness and or celebrate a culture, but the network just want to bring in more types of people, go increase their ad sales and make more money.
“Money does talk, but (so does) connecting through an audience that continues to grow and grow and networks can’t ignore that,” Braxton said.