Accessibility/Mobile Features
Skip Navigation
Skip to Content
Editorial News
Entertainment
Classified Sites

The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

ABC's slate of ethnically diverse fall series is authentic America: network exec

Shonda Rhimes speaks during the

Enlarge Image

Shonda Rhimes speaks during the "How to Get Away with Murder" panel at the Disney/ABC Television Group 2014 Summer TCA at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Tuesday, July 15, 2014, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. - ABC's fall slate includes new series about black, Asian-American and Hispanic families. But calling the network's choices a case study in diversity is to miss the point, said Paul Lee, ABC Entertainment Group president.

"It is a mission statement to reflect America," Lee told the summer meeting of the Television Critics Association on Tuesday. "That's not so much diversity as authenticity when you reflect America."

The network has the advantage of strong storytellers including Shonda Rhimes, the force behind ABC's "Grey's Anatomy" and "Scandal." She's going for a Thursday-night trifecta with "How to Get Away with Murder."

The new drama stars Viola Davis as a hard-charging law professor and criminal defence attorney, giving the African-American actress the kind of starring role that TV doesn't often accord minorities. Rhimes has done the same thing with "Scandal" and star Kerry Washington.

ABC, the home of white-oriented comedies "Modern Family" and "The Middle," will introduce ethnic families in the sitcoms "black-ish," ''Cristela" and "Fresh Off the Boat."

All of them have minority creators or producers or both behind the camera, which Lee said drives the shows' authenticity.

"Black-ish," about an African-American family whose father worries that they're losing touch with their ethnicity, stars Anthony Anderson and Tracee Ellis Ross and includes creator Kenya Barris as well as Laurence Fishburne and Larry Wilmore among its executive producers.

Although the shows are about ethnically specific families, they are "relatable" for all viewers, Lee said. "These are American stories, make no mistake about it," he said.

Barris said race is not the central point of "black-ish."

"This show has so much less to do with race than it does with culture and identity," Barris said. America today is divided more along socio-economic lines than racial ones, he said, and the show intends to explore that division.

When Rhimes was asked to discuss the lesson TV might learn from the rarity of two shows with black female leads, she replied, "Do I think there are any lessons? No, I don't. The shows speak for themselves."

Whether her dramas might affect the medium "remains to be seen. It hasn't happened yet," she said.

Lee was asked why one returning show about an ethnic family, "The Goldbergs," seems to avoid the Jewish experience, such as showing a celebration of Hannukah or a bar mitzvah.

There is no agenda at work, Lee replied, saying such decisions were up to creator and executive producer Adam Goldberg.

"It's Adam's show," Lee said. "I'm not going to sit there as a network and say, as one Jew to another, 'I want a bar mitzvah.' "

  • Rate this Rate This Star Icon
  • This article has not yet been rated.
  • We want you to tell us what you think of our articles. If the story moves you, compels you to act or tells you something you didn’t know, mark it high. If you thought it was well written, do the same. If it doesn’t meet your standards, mark it accordingly.

    You can also register and/or login to the site and join the conversation by leaving a comment.

    Rate it yourself by rolling over the stars and clicking when you reach your desired rating. We want you to tell us what you think of our articles. If the story moves you, compels you to act or tells you something you didn’t know, mark it high.

Sort by: Newest to Oldest | Oldest to Newest | Most Popular 0 Commentscomment icon

You can comment on most stories on brandonsun.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is register and/or login and you can join the conversation and give your feedback.

There are no comments at the moment. Be the first to post a comment below.

Post Your Commentcomment icon

Comment
  • You have characters left

The Brandon Sun does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. Comments are moderated before publication. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

Brandon Sun Business Directory
Sudden Surge: Flood of 2014
Opportunity Magazine — The Bakken
Why Not Minot?
Welcome to Winnipeg

Social Media