Cable Nets Carry Torch For TV Diversity


Advocates of diversity on Tv bemoaned the recent cancellation of NBC’s drama series Undercovers, one of  the few broadcast-TV series with African-Americans in leading roles.

But advocates can be thankful that, in the coming year, several cable networks will introduce new projects that help bring about more diversity in TV characters and stories.

Black Entertainment Television and TV One will offer several scripted comedy series, while TBS will look to continue its successful ratings run of African-American-themed comedy series.

This January BET will team with actress/singer Queen Latifah’s production company, Flavor Unit Entertainment to premiere Let’s Stay Together, a show which takes a humorous look at the relationship challenges of five young, aspirational African-Americans.

BET will offer its take on the traditional family sitcom genre later in the year with Read Between the Lines, while resurrecting  sitcom The Game, first aired by the CW in 2006, for a third season.

TV One will tap the talents of Fresh Prince Of Bel Air alum Tatyana Ali to produce and star in its first scripted comedy series, Love That Girl!

Beyond those new entries from African-American targeted outlets, TBS continue to be the house of successful, black-themed shows, led by Tyler Perry-produced hits House Of Payne and Meet The Browns. Both series remain among the most watched scripted comedy series on basic cable, averaging more than 2.5 million viewers each for premiere episodes.

TBS this past summer also greenlit a 90-episode order for the Ice Cube-produced comedy Are We There Yet? During its 10-episode summer run, the series averaged 2.8 million viewers and was the most watched show during the second quarter among African-American adults 18-34 and 18-49.

Sister network TNT also greenlit a third season of Hawthorne, one of only two basic cable scripted drama series featuring an African-American actor in a lead role (the other is BBC America’s psychological thriller Luther, starting Idris Elba (The Wire).

There’s no guarantee that any or all of these series will reap significant audience ratings and advertiser revenue returns for their respective networks.

At the very least, they will offer viewers a chance to see numerous African-American images in projects that offer more  than  supporting buddy-buddy roles or highly-sensationalized, reality series caricatures.