Home / Blog / Business

DGA to Women, Minorities in TV: It’s Not Getting Better

If you're a woman or minority working in television, are you better off now than you were four years ago? A new report from the Directors Guild of America (DGA) suggests the answer is no.
 
For the third year in a row, the DGA took a comprehensive look at scripted prime-time episodic television programming to quantify the diversity of directors behind the camera. It didn't find much. Caucasian men directed 72 percent of episodes produced in the 2012-2013 season, the DGA said. Non-Caucasian males directed 14 percent. Women picked up the scraps, with 12 percent of the directorial jobs going to Caucasian females and just 2 percent going to non-Caucasian females.
 
"How is it possible, in this day and age," asked Betty Thomas, DGA First Vice President, in a prepared statement, "that more than a dozen series didn’t hire even a single woman or minority director all season?” 
 
As diversity goes, the numbers for minorities don't jibe with the demographics of the viewing audience. Non-whites make up roughly 28 percent of the U.S. population, according to Wikipedia (citing 2010 U.S. census figures), while the DGA says minority men and women directed only 16 percent of television episodes. But women are much more poorly represented. Just over half the U.S. population is female, but only 14 percent of television episodes are directed by women.
 
 
Source: Directors Guild of America
 
What's more, the numbers haven't changed much over the last three years, despite efforts by the DGA National Board's Diversity Task Force to address diversity in hiring practices. The biggest change from last year was the decline in the percentage of episodes directed by minority women, which fell from 4 percent to 2 percent — largely due, the DGA said, to the cancellation of just one series, Tyler Perry's House of Payne.
 
Does it matter? It does if we expect television programming to realistically depict its characters and the world they live in. Even excellent, highly acclaimed shows can have blind spots that reduce their appeal to potentially broader audiences. Granted, a lot of that falls on the shoulders of the show-runners and the makeup of the writers' room. But having women and minorities contribute in the key role of director can help set the right tone.
 
HBO's Girls has been lauded for bringing a decidedly female perspective to a television comedy, and the DGA's numbers show that fully half of that program's 2012 episodes were directed by women. At the same time, Girls has been criticized for its lack of minority characters, and, sure enough, the DGA report indicates that all of the show's directors last year were Caucasian. Even the just-concluded Breaking Bad, which is roundly admired as perhaps the best serial drama ever created, has raised some eyebrows with a story taking place in the American Southwest that features few significant roles for minorities. The DGA says that four of Breaking Bad's final 16 episodes were directed by women, but that none of them were directed by minorities. And a recent WGA report contended that Breaking Bad didn't have any minorities in the writers' room, either.
 
Great shows? Absolutely. Could they be even better? Of course. Could more diversity of thought and experience behind the scenes improve them? It seems quite possible.
 
Following are some tidbits from the DGA's research, including its "Worst Of" list identifying shows with the worst record for hiring women and minorities for the 2012-2013 season. 
 
SHOWS THAT HIRED NO WOMEN AND NO MINORITY DIRECTORS (2012-2013)
Title Production Company/Network
After Lately CP Entertainment Services/E!
The Exes King Street Productions/TV Land
Falling Skies Turner North Center Productions/TNT
Hemlock Grove Ouroboros Productions/Netflix
Hot in Cleveland King Street Productions/TV Land
iCarly Uptown Productions/Nickelodeon
It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia Sunny Television Productions/FX
Maron TVM Productions/IFC
Sullivan & Son Horizon Scripted Television/TBS
Supernatural NS Pictures/CW
Underemployed On Site Productions/MTV
Workaholics 50/50 Productions/Comedy Central
Zach Stone Is Gonna Be Famous On Site Productions/MTV
Source: Directors Guild of America

TOP SHOWS: PERCENTAGE OF EPISODES DIRECTED BY WOMEN
Title Production Company/Network % of Episodes
Single Ladies Bling Productions/VH1 71
Modern Family Twentieth Century Fox Television/ABC 50
Luck Home Box Office/HBO 50
Girls Home Box Office/HBO 50
The Carrie Diaries Warner Bros. Television/CW 50
Switched at Birth Prodco/ABC Family 43
The Middle Warner Bros. Television/ABC 42
Private Practice ABC Studios/ABC 38
Mistresses FTP Productions/ABC 38
Don't Trust the B—- in Apartment 23 Twentieth Century Fox Television/ABC 38
Source: Directors Guild of America  

TOP SHOWS: PERCENTAGE OF EPISODES DIRECTED BY MINORITIES
Title Production Company/Network % of Episodes
The Rickey Smiley Show Smiley Face Productions/TV One 100
The Real Husbands of Hollywood JSR Productions/BET 100
The Hustle Marlowe Productions LLC/Fuse 100
The Game Breakdown Productions Inc./BET 75
Mike & Molly Bonanza Productions/CBS 70
Lab Rats It's a Laugh Productions/Disney XD 69
Treme Home Box Office/HBO 60
Reed Between the Lines Breakdown Productions/BET 50
Guys with Kids Open 4 Business Productions/NBC 44
The Following Bonanza Productions/Fox 43
Source: Directors Guild of America  

Note: Shows that are primarily directed by only one director for the entire season were included in the overall data, but are not singled out in the lists above. Similarly, foreign series shot abroad with a significant number of episodes that were not covered by a DGA agreement were also not included in the lists above, but the episodes that were made under a DGA agreement were included in the overall statistics. The shows that meet either criteria include Arrested Development; Baby Daddy; The Big Bang Theory; The Borgias; Continuum; Deadtime Stories; Doll & Em; Family Tree; The First Family; How I Met Your Mother; Last Man Standing; The League; Legit; Level Up; Louie; Mr. Box Office; Partners; Rogue; The Soul Man; Spartacus; Two and a Half Men; Tyler Perry’s For Better or Worse; Vikings; Wilfred.

For more information on the DGA report, including links to PDF spreadsheets sorted by different criteria, read the summary at the DGA's website.

2 Comments

Categories: Blog, Business
Tags: , , , ,

  • Brenboy

    LMAO! What a joke on those oh so open minded Liberals in TV & Production. Ha! Are they racists now too? Another guilt study. Better call Jesse and Al to start marching. Whitey Bad he be keepin us down.

  • Mr. Anti Teaparty

    That’s easy for you to say Mr. Teaparty. Just look at the numbers, they don’t lie. Oh, don’t tell me…..the liberals faked the stats too huh!!!