Over the last several weeks there have been some very big things happening in several of The CW’s shows in regards to diversity and representation. Some has been amazing and some has been terrifying. One thing, though, that I’ve seen come up time and time again as I scroll through Tumblr or answer asks is how much diversity and representation matters to any number of viewers.
Many of those who are minorities in the general population seek comfort, validation, and escape from their favorite TV shows and their favorite characters. When something happens to those characters, it doesn’t matter that they weren’t “real” or living in “the real world.”
We rejoice with them and we mourn with them. And for some, the connection with them can become extreme and unhealthy. But it’s because, at times, there’s nowhere else to turn. When real lives are filled with bullies, hate, depression, suicidal thoughts, self-doubt, loneliness, and any number of other things, there isn’t always ready access to the type of support network needed to survive the pressures of day-to-day life. In those cases, it can be easy to turn to TV for that support.
For that reason, we’re going to take a look at the shows on The CW – a network that has always catered to high school students, college students, and beyond – to see how they are doing when it comes to providing the diversity and representation that many of their viewers so desperately need. We’ll also take a look at some show night twitter trends that fans can use as they try to make a positive difference toward even more diversity and better representation in our favorite shows.
CRAZY EX-GIRLFRIEND (Mondays at 8 pm ET/PT)
THE POSITIVE: Main character, Rebecca Bunch, accurately portrays mental health issues, particularly depression. Rebecca’s boss, Darryl Whitefeather, and his current love interest (“White Josh”) provide positive LGBT representation and address both gay and bisexual issues. Dr. Avorkian, Rebecca’s therapist who is black, and Josh Chan, Rebecca’s Filipino love interest provide very positive representation for People of Color (PoC).
THE NEGATIVE: No representation for the disabled (yet).
SUGGESTED SOCIAL MEDIA TRENDS: #LGBTFansLoveCEG, #CEGgetsMHright, #PoCFansLoveCEG, #CEGNeedsDisabledRep
JANE THE VIRGIN (Mondays at 9 pm ET/PT)
THE POSITIVE: Jane, her mother, her abuela, her long-estranged father and others provide positive Hispanic representation and an accurate depiction of Latino culture. Luisa, who has a very complicated relationship with Jane, provides mostly positive LGBT representation.
THE NEGATIVE: No ongoing representation for the disabled or for mental health issues, although the show did accurately depict post-partum depression and other post-partum issues surrounding being a new mother through Jane. One of Luisa’s love interests is now deceased. Outside of Latinos, other PoC are non-existent.
SUGGESTED SOCIAL MEDIA TRENDS: #LatinosLoveJtV, #NewMomsLoveJtV, #LGBTFansLoveLuisa, #JtVNeedsBetterLGBTRep, #JtVNeedsMHRep, #JtVNeedsDisabledRep
THE FLASH (Tuesdays at 8 pm ET/PT)
THE POSITIVE: Strong PoC representation with the Wests and Cisco Ramon. Iris West is a smart, independent writer for the local newspaper. Her father is a very competent police detective. And Cisco is a brilliant tech guru.
THE NEGATIVE: Iris is often sidelined unnecessarily. No ongoing representation for mental health, disabilities, or the LGBT community.
SUGGESTED SOCIAL MEDIA TRENDS: #PoCLoveTheFlash, #IrisWestDeservesBetter, #TheFlashNeedsMHRep, #TheFlashNeedsDisabledRep, #TheFlashNeedsLGBTRep, #TheFlashNeedsDiversity
IZOMBIE (Tuesdays at 9 pm ET/PT)
THE POSITIVE: Ravi, the show’s medical examiner, and Clive, the detective that main character, Liv, works with are both strong male PoC leads. Liv, through the brains she eats to stay as human as possible, occasionally provides representation of mental health and LGBT issues.
THE NEGATIVE: Characters involved with the case of the week are often shown to embody stereotypes of under-represented minorities. Stereotypes seen so far include: “The Angry Black Woman,” “The Crazy Lady,” or “The Over-Sexualized LGBT Character.”
SUGGESTED SOCIAL MEDIA TRENDS: #PoCLeadsRockiZombie, #iZombieNeedsBetterMHRep, #iZombieNeedsBetterLGBTRep, #NoMoreStereotypesOniZombie, #iZombieNeedsGOODRep
ARROW (Wednesdays at 8 pm ET/PT)
THE POSITIVE: Strong PoC main character found in Diggle, Oliver’s partner. Had a strong LGBT character in Sara Lance. Had strong disabled representation in Felicity, Oliver’s love interest. Showcases mental health issues accurately through Oliver with his PTSD flashbacks and with Felicity in her response to finding herself suddenly disabled.
THE NEGATIVE: The character of Sara Lance left for another show. Felicity’s disability was miraculously healed.
SUGGESTED SOCIAL MEDIA TRENDS: #ArrowGetsMHRight, #PoCLoveDiggle, #ArrowNeedsLGBTRep, #ArrowNeedsDisabledRep, #ArrowNeedsDiversity
SUPERNATURAL (Wednesdays at 9 pm ET/PT)
THE POSITIVE: Accurate depiction of some mental health issues through the brothers’ responses to depression, trauma, and various situations they have found themselves in.
THE NEGATIVE: Little to no PoC representation. Little to no LGBT representation. Use of queerbaiting. Little to no disabled representation.
SUGGESTED SOCIAL MEDIA TRENDS: #SPNGetsMHRight, #SPNNeedsDiversity, #SPNNeedsLGBTRep, #SPNNeedsDisabledRep, #SPNNeedsPoC
LEGENDS OF TOMORROW (Thursdays at 8 pm ET/PT)
THE POSITIVE: Has a strong LGBT main character in Sara Lance, aka White Canary. Has strong PoC main characters in Jax, aka Firestorm, and Kendra, aka Hawkgirl. Occasional personal storylines for various characters address mental health issues such as belonging, pressure, stress, and anxiety with overall positive outcomes.
THE NEGATIVE: No disabled representation.
SUGGESTED SOCIAL MEDIA TRENDS: #LGBTFansLoveSaraLance, #PoCFansLoveFirestorm, #LoTGetsMHRight, #LoTNeedsDisabledRep
THE 100 (Thursdays at 9 pm ET/PT)
THE POSITIVE: Lead male, Bellamy Blake, is a PoC. There are many PoC secondary characters with important roles such as engineer, chancellor, guard, clan leader, warrior, and doctor. The best mechanic among the group is a female disabled PoC. Lead female, Clarke Griffin, is bisexual. There are several other LGBT characters including two guards, a trade post worker, and the now-deceased commander of the twelve grounder clans. The show also provides a fairly accurate depiction of mental health issues – particularly PTSD as experienced differently by each character on the show.
THE NEGATIVE: Use of “Dead Lesbian Trope.” The grounder commander was killed a minute or two after having sex with the bisexual lead. Her death was not because of her sexuality, but it was poor timing regardless. PoC characters and disabled character are sidelined at times. Disagreement in fandom over appropriate treatment of PoC, disabled character, and LGBT characters.
SUGGESTED SOCIAL MEDIA TRENDS: #PoCLoveThe100, #PoCWantBetter, #StopSideliningPoC, #RavenReyesRocks, #StopSideliningRaven, #NoMoreDamagingTropes, #LGBTFansDeserveBetter
THE VAMPIRE DIARIES (Fridays at 8 pm ET/PT)
THE POSITIVE: Bonnie Bennett, super witch, is a very strong PoC main character. In the current season, the show has provided LGBT representation through two more minor characters who are also antagonists.
THE NEGATIVE: Regular mistreatment of Bonnie. She often saves the day and is injured, killed, or otherwise sacrificed for the white mains. Fairly stereotypical representation of the two LGBT characters who are also villains. Lack of disabled representation. Lack of accurate mental health representation.
SUGGESTED SOCIAL MEDIA TRENDS: #BonnieBennettRocks, #PoCDeserveBetter, #LGBTFansDeserveBetter, #TVDNeedsDisabledRep, #TVDNeedsBetterMHRep
THE ORIGINALS (Fridays at 9 pm ET/PT)
THE POSITIVE: A couple of secondary characters, such as Marcel Gerard – the leader of the opposing group of vampires in New Orleans – provide PoC representation. Freya Mikaelson, one of the Original vampire siblings, provides LGBT representation.
THE NEGATIVE: Representation of LGBT character(s) is mediocre. Lack of disabled representation. Lack of accurate mental health representation.
SUGGESTED SOCIAL MEDIA TRENDS: #PoCLoveTO, #LGBTFansDeserveBetter, #TONeedsDisabledRep, #TONeedsBetterMHRep
The CW Diversity & Representation Scorecard
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend = A
Jane the Virgin = B
The Flash = B-
iZombie = C
Arrow = C
Supernatural = F
Legends of Tomorrow = B-
The 100 = A
The Vampire Diaries = D
The Originals = D