With the recent additions to its lineup, The CW continues to diversify its programming. And that diversity extends behind the camera as well.
Representation matters. There is simply no denying the power that comes from seeing someone like you in your entertainment. The CW has taken that message to heart, both in front of and behind the camera.
In front of the camera
Of The CW’s 2017-2018 season lineup, two-thirds of the series featured female leads, according to a report by Variety.
Additionally, in Clarke Griffin and Sara Lance, The 100 and Legends of Tomorrow respectively feature queer women as their leads. Supergirl’s adoptive sister, Alex, had a strong coming out story in season 2. And Black Lightning featured a black lesbian hero, Thunder/Anissa Pierce.
Jane the Virgin stars a woman of color and her family, including her undocumented grandmother, and Legends of Tomorrow introduced a Muslim hero this year in Zari Tomaz. In fact, Legends features an incredibly diverse — in gender, race and sexuality — cast of misfit heroes.
The big Arrowverse crossover in 2017, Crisis on Earth-X, also introduced two out gay superheroes — played by out gay actors — in Russel Tovey’s The Ray and Wentworth Miller’s Citizen Cold, who were allowed to be affectionate. Snart later indicated that he and his partner would be getting married. Legends of Tomorrow has also promoted Matt Ryan’s bisexual demonologist John Constatine to series regular in season 4.
Moreover, the aforementioned report from Variety notes that The CW “boasted 33% non-white or Hispanic lead actors,” which was more than any of the other Big Five broadcast networks (ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, The CW). Several of The CW’s series also feature interracial relationships, including The Flash‘s Barry Allen and Iris West.
Along superhero lines, freshman series Black Lightning is an unapologetically black series about a black hero fighting to protect his black community. The series has not been shy about addressing issues that affect people of color, such as police brutality and gang violence.
Of the series that The CW has picked up for the 2018-19 season, the diversity on-camera is impossible to miss. Let’s look at some examples:
- The sisters of the Charmed reboot are women of color, and one of the sisters, Mel, has a girlfriend.
- The Roswell reboot, titled Roswell, New Mexico, stars a woman of color and will explore immigration issues.
- All-American stars a black lead and centers on a football player from South L.A. being recruited to play for Beverly Hills High. It will look at the struggles faced by two very different communities.
- In the Dark is about a “flawed and irreverent” blind woman.
Behind the camera
But perhaps most importantly, The CW’s lineup for the upcoming season will feature more women and people of color behind the camera. It’s one thing to have women starring in series and films, but most women’s stories today are still being told by men.
So, it’s essential to note that all five series picked up by The CW for the 2018-2019 season will have female showrunners:
- Charmed, Jessica O’Toole and Amy Rardin
- Rosewll, New Mexico, Carina Adly MacKenzie
- In the Dark, Corinne Kingsbury
- All-American, April Blair
- Legacies, Julie Plec, Brett Matthews
In fact, The CW has a higher percentage of female showrunners than the other four big networks. From that same Variety report:
— Jarett Wieselman (@JarettSays) May 31, 2017
Just as it’s important for women to tell their own stories, it’s important that people of color be able to tell theirs, too. In the 2017-2018 season, according to the Variety report, The CW featured “a higher ranking than other networks in non-white or Hispanic showrunners” at 33%, which was bolstered by the Black Lightning team of Salim Akil and Mara Brock Akil.
The next closest network was CBS at 11%. NBC came in at 10% while ABC and Fox were at 0%. That’s right, two of the Big Five had no non-white or Hispanic showrunners.
Take a moment to process that. I’ll wait.
Okay, back? Great. Now, all of this is not to say that The CW is a perfect network or that you have no right to be unhappy if your favorite CW show was canceled or a show you were excited for was not picked up for the upcoming season.
But in an era of television that is looking at the blatantly political revival of Roseanne and Last Man Standing, it’s important we pay attention to and support those who have made diversity a priority.