Battle of Diverse Pilots: How Diverse are NBC's Pilots?

The next-to-final part of a five-part series! I know it’s taken a long time, but it’s finally here, and I’m glad, because the small amount of analytics involved in this project can get tedious. 

There are 19 shows coming to NBC this fall-winter season (with several being passed over or, in the case of one, rolled over, I’m guessing until the next season). With the 19 shows, there are some interesting things happening, particularly with some shows having all-minority casts and one show possibly having an Asian-black interracial relationship.

In terms of demographics, though, things shake out kind of the same with other networks, with black actors occupying many of the roles.

The most represented non-white demographic: 26 black actors are a part of most of the shows, with Untitled Jerrod Carmichael Comedy having an all-black cast.

Here’s the full break-down:

  • People Are Talking (Tone Bell, Bresha Webb)
  • Problem Child (Anna Deavere Smith)
  • Sharing (Jerry Minor)
  • Superstore (Colton Dunn)
  • Untitled Jerrod Carmichael Comedy (Jerrod Carmichael, Loretta Devine, Amber West,  David Alan Grier)
  • Crowded (Carlease Burke)
  • Blindspot (Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Rob Brown)
  • Chicago Med (S. Epatha Merkerson, Yaya DaCosta)
  • Game of Silence (Larenz Tate, Demetrius Grosse, Deidrie Henry)
  • Heartbreaker (J. Louis Mills, D. L. Hughley)
  • The Player (Wesley Snipes)
  • Love is a Four-Letter Word (Rockmond Dunbar, Cynthia McWilliams, LeToya Luckett, Lauryn Hardy)
  • Unveiled (Stephan James, Dana Davis)

There are 13 Latino actors employed by NBC this season, with Telenovela boasting an all-Latino cast. There would have been two all-Latino casts, if NBC didn’t pass over The Curse of the Fuentes Women.

Here’s who we have:

  • Superstore (America Ferrera)
  • Telenovela (Eva Longoria, Aumary Nolasco, Iggy Diaz, Jencarlos Canela, Jose Moreno Brooks, Diana Maria Riva,  Alex Meneses)
  • Crowded (Audrey Esparza)
  • Heartbreaker (Rudy Martinez)
  • Love is a Four-Letter Word (Nadine Velasquez)
  • Shades of Blue (Jennifer Lopez, Vincent Laresca)

Unlike the other networks, NBC probably has the most biracial and multiracial actors this season. I don’t know if their backgrounds will be utilized in their characters, possibly in a show like Love is a Four-Letter Word, where there will probably be nothing but interracial relationships, judging by the cast. But we don’t yet know.

Here’s who’s coming to NBC:

The demographic that is represented, but is represented the least, is the Asian demographic. Only eight roles were cast with Asian actors, with two of those roles filled by the same actor.

  • Not Safe for Work (Vanessa Lachey, Rizwan Manji)
  • People Are Talking (Brooke Ishibashi)
  • Sharing (Greta Lee)
  • Superstore (Nico Santos)
  • Chicago Med (Brian Tee-just announced recently)
  • Love is a Four-Letter Word (Brian Tee)
  • Unveiled (Mouzam Makkar)

Severe lack of Native and Middle Eastern representation: Like with all network, there is no representation of Native characters and, in the case of NBC, no representation of Middle Eastern characters.

Severe lack of LGBT representation: Also, like many of the networks, there’s not any LGBT representation, at leas in terms of the actors themselves. There might be some LGBT representation in terms of character, but we haven’t seen the shows yet, so we don’t know.

Shows with leads of color: There are quite a few shows with leads of color, including Shades of Blue, Love is a Four-Letter Word, Telenovela, Chicago Med, Untitled Jerrod Carmichael Comedy, Superstore and Unveiled to name a few. I point these out in particular because I’m pretty sure all of the POC characters in these shows are definite leads; in other shows that have POC characters in the main cast, I’m not sure if they’re secondary characters or not.

Shows with possible interracial relationships: Both Chicago Med and Love is a Four-Letter Word are both big contenders for interracial relationships. Yaya DaCosta’s character has already been linked to Chicago Fire‘s Severide, so she’s no stranger to interracial relationships; I bet she’ll have something going on with Brian Tee at some point.

Speaking of Tee, I believe his character in Love is a Four-Letter Word will also be in an interracial relationship to one of the many POC women in the cast. Odds are that he’ll be in a relationship with a black woman character. In fact, I think I read something about that happening in this show, but don’t quote me on it.

Two shows without POC characters: We’ve got Coach (yes, the continuation of ’90s Coach) and Take It From Us. 

Iyanna Arrigo:  I just want to point out that I haven’t included Iyanna Arrigo, who is cast in Love is a Four-Letter Word, in the list because I can’t find a picture of her.

Overall notes: NBC always seemed like it had been struggling since the late ’90s to rebuild a Must-See TV block, in my opinion. I’ve never been interested in watching things on NBC apart from The Voice and The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon every once in a while. But, it seems like NBC might be on to something this season. I’d certainly tune into Chicago Med, because I want the ER experience I was too young to really live out when it was on. I’d certainly watch Love is a Four-Letter Word because I’m an OG Brian Tee fan (ditto that Tee sentiment with Chicago Med). I’m also a fan of telenovelas, so I’ll take a look at Telenovela as well.

I think it’s out of sheer luck that there’s a larger amount of biracial and multiracial actors at NBC; I doubt a casting agent really went into the casting process saying they wanted to give bi-and-multiracial people a chance to play multiracial or biracial characters. But, I’m glad these actors are here. I would really love it if Native and Middle Eastern characters were represented, as well as LGBT actors.

Final grade: B. If I was being generous, I’d give it a B+, but B seems to be the most fair, since there are clear oversights despite a lot of progress.

Coming up soon will be my final thoughts on all the big 4 networks!

 

  • Well done. I almost never watch anything on NBC either but its nice to see them making an effort at diverse casts.

    • I was glad to see the upward trend re: NBC as well. Let’s just hope some of these stick around, since NBC’s dramas haven’t been the best and/or the good ones get cancelled (Hannibal).

      • Yes, this is why I generally don’t trust network television.

        They are too quick to cancel shows and never give viewers enough time to get into a show or build an audience. I understand the reasons why they do that, but its an attitude that only hurts their cause, as people find no reason to become invested in a show because they think it will get canceled, so they don’t watch it and then it gets canceled.
        First Constantine and now Hannibal.

        I also get the impression that the executives really don’t care, or know, anything about or for genre shows, at all. They see that people are watching genre shows on other networks and they want some of that viewership, yet have no idea how to go about getting it. They just want to jump on the bandwagon.

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