The recent rise of social media has allowed viewers to publicly express their opinions about TV shows. Producers and other important crew members utilize this medium to receive feedback and improve their shows. Social media has also introduced many to intersectional feminism, which prompted many individuals, especially underrepresented young adults, to speak out on the lack of minority representation in the media. Representation is unarguably essential, and minority groups are disproportionately represented. For example, even though non-whites make up about 40% of the U.S. population, only 28.3% of TV’s non-white characters had speaking roles. Many casting directors and other crew members, unfortunately, see this as a business opportunity, casting minorities on purpose to attract ratings. In fact, Variety conducted research on five main television networks and found out that for the 2016-2017’s season new shows, 45 out of 50 show runners were in fact white and 36 of them where males. White males are the most privileged of them all, so of course it makes sense that they would not care about those at the bottom of the social hierarchy and just use minorities to earn more profit.
More often than not, minorities on TV are killed off or mistreated, which subliminally perpetuates the idea that as a woman, person of color, or LGBT member, you do not get a happy ending. Let’s take, for instance, The 100, a 2014 post-apocalyptic television show, which has been praised for its diverse cast. Sadly, this show is also known for killing off minority characters, such as Lexa, one of the few LGBT characters, or Lincoln, one of the two main black male characters at the time of his departure, who portrayed Lincoln, admitted to having been bullied off the show by the creator, Jason Rothernberg. Another prime example would be The Vampire Diaries, where the only main black woman, and character of color in general, is often mistreated. Bonnie Bennett, a witch portrayed by Kat Graham, constantly sacrificed herself and suffered for her white friends. She lost her whole family in order to help them out. She was nothing more than a black token. In fact, unlike her two white best friends, Elena and Caroline, who had several epic love stories, Bonnie was never even given a decent love interest. All the potential men either used her, cheated, or died.
Of course it is understandable death and misery are necessary for plot development, but why does it most often than not happen to minorities? Many argue that these sort of things on television are simply “coincidences” but why haven’t certain white male characters such as Rick Grimes or Ichabod Crane died, while their fellow minority characters have? Perhaps before jumping to conclusions and praising a show for its diverse cast we should consider these facts. They cast minorities we can connect to, only to kill them off or make them suffer.