Dear Hollywood [actually I’m referring specifically to the network and studio presidents that possess a troubling amount of indirect influence over the consciousness of the mass/general population],
You are FINALLY entering the last leg of Pilot Season 2017! Scripts have been refined, not polished, but refined. Budgets have been negotiated, and the production plans have been set! Only thing left is casting!
Now, needless to say (but I’ll say it anyway), this current political moment is demanding a lot from artist. Many artists are looking at the world today, rolling up their sleeves and are heading to work. We must. Fewer artists have been quicker to respond or even more critical than our very own Hollywood producers and elites: Judd Apatow, Lee Daniels, Richard Schiff, Mark Ruffalo, Shonda Rhimes, Bryan Cranston, Chelsea Handler, Jack Black, Kerry Washington, Louis CK, the list goes on and on. The point is, these people all yield copious power in the television industry and now it is time for these people, and this industry to put its money where its mouth is.
If you scroll through Deadline with the tag “pilot” you will be privy to the current production decisions being made regarding the shows that our American audience will tune into come the fall. Though I personally believe in television and even applaud it for being of the frontier of social and political consciousness (far ahead of film and often ahead of the Broadway theater); I too often see: Let’s tell a straight white man’s story and fill the rest with a few supporting minorities. I do believe that commonality is shifting but but we must count of networks like ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC to gear their primetime slots towards stories that matter.
Currently on the ABC greenlight list have: The Gospel of Kevin as their primetime hourlong drama. Starring Jason Ritter, The Gospel of Kevin, centers a straight, white, male (some-fucking-how) down on his luck and is LITERALLY TASKED BY GOD TO SAVE THE WORLD.(that is the actual logline). *sigh* Not done. FOX has decided to greenlight: Behind Enemy Lines (no, seriously). Another criminal driven drama, but this time about our heroic soldiers and their desperate, tumultuous escape from some presumably war-torn, Muslim nation. Yes, it is based on the 2001 movie, the same tired-ass producers paired with 24: Legacy and Shades of Blue producer Nikki Toscano who is arguably as blind as Tobi Lasagna AND it will star Marg Helgenberger (ya know, the stale, wonder-bread, thin, old lady from CSI?) But it’s all totally fine because BJ Britt (the black guy from 24, thanks Nikki) will be starring alongside Marg. I won’t even go into detail about ABC’s other primetime slot contender, Doomsday: the aftermath of 9/11, when the U.S. government institutes a secret think tank featuring the most creative minds in science and entertainment that is tasked with dreaming up man-made disaster scenarios and their possible solutions. (actual logline). Sounds like wypipo saving the world, but I’ll just be quiet.
Ok, let me get to my point and wrap this up.
TV is a powerful medium, arguably our most powerful medium. We MUST take advantage of its potential to affect positive change. We don’t just need to place a rainbow of people in any story we can think of. We need to look at our world, look at ourselves in it and be conscious of the stories we are telling and the effect of how we represent the people in those stories. I am sick of the crime dramas going after the Mexican cartels, or thugs, or Muslim terrorists while we continuously make our heroes white. It is painting a picture that seeps into the minds and infects the beliefs of the American people and IT MUST BE STOPPED. Heroism has no gender, color, or creed. Neither does villainy. Represent them as such.
Pilot Season 2017, don’t fuck up.