Battle of Diverse Pilots: How Diverse Are CBS’ Pilots?

The battle continues! Last time, it was ABC. This time, I’m grading CBS. Once again, I’m using The Hollywood Reporter‘s list of every pilot so far. 

The most represented minority demographic: Just like with ABC, black people are the most represented. Out of the 18 pilots listed, 8 shows have black characters. Overall, there 13 black characters making up the black population of the whole pilot list.

I do have to say that the small amount of time it took to analyze the pilots allowed me the ability to actually write down actors’ names. I had debated listing tons of actor names in my ABC report, but honestly, there were too many pilots and I was lazy. Sorry. But here are the black actors you can expect to see on CBS:

  • For Justice: Anika Noni Rose, Phylicia Rashad, Mario Van Peebles
  • Happy Life: Duane Martin
  • Taxi-22: Sahr Ngaujah
  • Criminal Minds spinoff: Tyler James Williams
  • Doubt: Dule Hill, Laverne Cox, Kobi Libii
  • Limitless: Hill Harper
  • Rush Hour: Justin Hires, Page Kennedy (guest star)
  • Supergirl: Mechad Brooks

Tied for second place: Latino and Asian representation is tied at 7 characters apiece. Asian actors include:

  • The Half of It: Christine Ko
  • For Justice: Leonardo Nam
  • Code Black: Raza Jaffrey, Melanie Kannokada
  • Criminal Minds: Daniel Henney
  • Rush Hour: Jon Foo, Jessika Van

Latino actors include:

  • Happy Life: Rita Moreno
  • Life in Pieces: Angelique Cabral
  • Super Clyde: Diane Guerrero
  • Taxi-22: John Leguizamo
  • Untitled Tommy Johnagin comedy: Jo-Anna Garcia Swisher
  • Code Black: Luis Guzman
  • Rush Hour: Aimee Garcia

Severe lack of Native and Middle Eastern representation: There is F. Murray Benjamin, who I’ll discuss later, but apart from him, there’s no serious representation of Middle Eastern characters. There’s certainly no representation of Native American characters. Again, representation is key when it comes to tearing down stereotypes and outright lies people believe about others. Just take a look at my interview with Loren Anthony, who walked off the set of The Ridiculous Six. The hurt I heard in his answers explains how dangerous stereotyping is.

Bi-racial/multiracial representation: There is a little on this front, but it’s more in the case of the actors themselves, not the characters they’re playing (possibly). F. Murray Abraham, who is in Taxi-22,  is Middle Eastern and Italian and Dean Cain, who is slated as a guest star in Supergirl, is Welsh, French, Japanese and Irish.

Gay/lesbian/bi representation?: Jane Lynch is in Angel from Hell as a guardian angel, but as for characters are specifically listed as gay, lesbian or bi, I don’t have clear research on. And by “no clear research,” I mean “none.”

No one is specifically listed as playing along the sexual spectrum, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some characters who are. We’ll just have to watch the shows when the primary, secondary and tertiary characters are fleshed out.

One transgender actor playing the only transgender character: Laverne Cox is the only transgender actor listed. She is also playing a transgender character. But it’s high time to get some more representation on the board. Cox shouldn’t be the only one carrying the burden.

The beige quotient: Ana Kayne fills this portion out. She’s starring in LFE.

The one show with a fully-minority cast: Can you believe that CBS has a show that has an only-minority main cast? That distinction belongs to Rush Hour. 

Shows with no diverse casts: There are three shows that are devoid of diversity compared to ABC’s two. These shows are The Mistake, the Untitled O’Shannon/Warren Comedy, and Sneaky Pete. 

It should also be noted that all shows haven’t finished casting, so the lack of diversity for these shows could change.

Overall notes: If we’re grading CBS on a curve, the network did very good for itself. If we’re grading it level, like every other network, it did fairly well. It could have done better, since compared to it, ABC looks like the Rainbow Coalition of networks. But despite CBS’ clear problems, like a lack of Native, Middle-Eastern and LGBT representation, the network also seems to have gotten the message that diversity is the new order of business. However, it seems like they’re being very reserved and conservative about it, which goes along with CBS’ general demographic anyways.

Final grade: C. Overall, CBS has passed. But my recommendations are to include representation of aforementioned groups not listed.

What do you think about CBS’ pilots?

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