Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
ABC, Black culture, Black-ish, Culture Industry, Diversity in Television, Sitcoms
Social and Behavioral Sciences
Diversity in television in film is an ongoing debate. The recent exclusions of minority-led television shows and films from award shows like the Emmys and Oscars have ignited complaints and debates from inside and outside the entertainment industry. Some networks responded with more inclusive programs and diverse cast leads and cast members. In 2013, Paul Lee, former ABC executive, introduced a diversity initiative that was a part of a rebranding strategy for the network, and to show different experiences in America. The initiative resulted in three new shows for the 2014-2015 season: Black-ish, Fresh Off the Boat, and Cristela. All shows featured minority leads and predominately minority casts. However, diversity is about more than just placing minorities in leading roles. There needs to be a showcase of the different cultural backgrounds, and experiences of different minority groups. That includes discussing racism, significant cultural events, and minorities’ interactions with one another and the majority White community.
Sitcoms are a part of the culture industry. According to Adorno, the culture industry exists solely to sell products and a lifestyle. In addition to that, sitcoms are designed to make the world simple and laughable. Also, sitcoms are not designed to evoke deep thought or conversations amongst the viewers that serious subjects like racism may result in. Sitcoms are in direct conflict with the goal of the diversity initiative. This research focuses on Black-ish, and how it shows diversity from the Black American perspective, and seeing how the culture industry may or may not influence the execution of the diversity initiative.
Keywords: Black-ish, culture industry, ABC, diversity in television, stereotypes, Black culture, sitcoms, sitcom formula
Vickers, Jasmine, "Black or Black-ish: Decoding Black-ish and Its Place in the Conversation of
Diversity" (2018). Theses - ALL. 227.