Do you like shows starring (mostly) white dudes? Well, aren’t you in luck. For the second in a row, all of the new pilots at CBS star men, according to Entertainment Weekly. The only difference between last year and this year is that this year, they have one show with a man of color because everyone knows tokenism is the way to go. CBS had a press breakfast today and a reporter asked CBS chairman and CEO Les Moonves if having no new shows with female leads was a good idea (spoiler alert: it isn’t).
“We saw this with you guys last year,” the reporter asked. “Are you concerned, particularly in a medium like television where women watch more than men, that you have such a male-centered [lineup]?”
“Well, number one, more women watch CBS, percentage-wise, than any other network, so our shows have a lot of female appeal,” Moonves countered. “I don’t think we’ve ever had to apologize for having Madam Secretary and Lucy Liu [on Elementary], and The Good Fight [on CBS All Access] and The Good Wife. We do a number of pilots, a lot of them have women in starring roles. There are a lot of women on the schedule. The best pilots win at the end of the day. And we think our track record is okay.”
Yes, because that’s how diversity works. Once you hit this certain mark you’re in the clear and you don’t need to add anymore. You have Elementary and Madam Secretary, that’s great, but you can add more. The network isn’t going to end if you have more shows with women on them.
The reporter was also unhappy with that answer.
“We’re at this point in the industry — FX, for example, is trying to make sure half its directors are female. It seems like you guys might be facing in the wrong direction?”
Moonves replied: “I don’t think that’s the case. Let me put on my CEO hat for a second because I’m not the president of entertainment. When I look at the totality of what CBS is, I look at news, I look at daytime, I look at sports, I look at Showtime, I look at The CW. And when you look at the totality of that, I think we’re fine in terms of the amount of women who are behind the camera and in front of the camera. I think we’re doing a very good job. I don’t think we’re looking in the wrong direction, on the contrary.”
If I facepalmed any harder I would have given myself a black eye. This is yet another non-answer to the question because this guy has no idea what’s going on. The Center For The Study Of Women In Television & Film has the numbers for television from the 2015-2016 season and they are not good. In fact, CBS, you’re doing the worst as far as female characters are concerned.
Programs appearing on ABC featured the highest percentage of female characters (43%), followed by NBC and Fox (41%), CW (40%), and CBS (39%)
As far as “doing fine behind the camera?” Well, you’re not in last this time but second to last is not exactly an improvement.
ABC programs had the highest percentage of behind-the-scenes women (30%), followed by CW (29%), NBC (25%), CBS (24%), and Fox (22%).
Back in February I lamented the fact that 29% of the highest grossing films of 2016 starred women and how people were cheering like that was some sort of accomplishment. Here we are, yet again, where women are being ignored despite being the primary audience for the network in question. This non-answer to a legitimate question and the self congratulatory tone of thinking because they have a few shows with women in them that they don’t need anymore.
It’s amazing that shows like Elementary turned what is usually a role for a white man into a role for a woman of color. It’s amazing that Madam Secretary got renewed for a fourth season. That being said, there is plenty of room on the board for more ladies and the excuses are getting old.
Also, how about some more people of color too. If we wanted to watch nothing but white mediocrity we’d watch any news story about the American government.