This Golden Age of Television we keep hearing about is — just like the un-Golden Age before it — directed almost entirely by white guys, according to the Directors Guild of America‘s latest study about director diversity in episodic TV. Under a DGA agreement for the Internet, online series such as House Of Cards, Arrested Development, Hemlock Grove and Orange Is The New Black are included in the study for the first time. And while, as House Of Cards star Kevin Spacey keeps speechifying, they’ve made great strides in undoing the prejudice toward pilots in the industry, Caucasian males still directed nearly three-quarters of all episodic television. The remaining 28% of episodes were divided among minority males (14%), Caucasian females (12%), and minority females (2%).
Analyzing more than 3,300 episodes produced during the 2012-13 broadcast TV season, and the 2012 cable season, from more than 200 scripted TV series, the report found that one-hour series were the white-guy-directed-est of all – 74%. Things were a teensy bit less white guy-ish in the half-hour genre: 70%.
If you’re looking for a whiff of progress: the overall percentage of episodes directed by white males decreased, year to year — from 73% to 72%. Yes, in Hollywood, that constitutes progress. And, the percentage of episodes directed by Caucasian females increased — from 11% to 12%. So too did the percentage of episodes with minority male directors – from 13% to 14%. However, the percentage of episodes directed by minority females dropped from 4% to 2%.
DGA acknowledges, sadly we think, that the total number of episodes directed by minority females overall is low enough that the cancellation of a single series, Tyler Perry’s House Of Payne, significantly impacted this figure. Once again, too many shows also failed to reach even the low threshold of hiring women or minorities for at least 15% of episodes in a season.
“The DGA has now issued three consecutive years of data examining the diversity of hiring practices for episodic television…. [D]iversity hiring statistics in episodic television have remained virtually unchanged across those three years,” the DGA concluded.
This is not for lack of trying on the DGA’s part, the group pointed out. Over the past three years, its executives and members of the Diversity Task Force held nearly 20 meetings with production companies specifically to address diversity in hiring. Additional, DGA said, meetings were held at the individual show level. The DGA also noted it maintains a contact list of experienced women and minority directors to make it easier for producers making hiring decisions. And that list was handed out during these meetings with networks, studios, production companies and individual series; the list is also available to by any production company by contacting the DGA.
The results speak for themselves.