Writers Guild of America Finds TV Writer Diversity Still Sucks, Especially in Late Night
After last week’s news that TV and film audiences want diversity despite slow progress in making that happen, the findings of the Writers Guild of America are pretty hard to swallow: diversity among TV writers is incredibly low, and late night shows have the worst numbers.
According to Variety, the WGA reported that just 29% of TV writing staff was female for the 2013-14 season—down from 30.5% the previous season—and people of color only made up 13.7%—down from 15%.
Now, while not necessarily a perfect benchmark, it’s worth mentioning again (as with the general TV and film diversity survey) that people of color are about 40% of the U.S. population, and women are just over half. While there’s no reason to rigidly stick to those exact percentages, there’s also no reason an entire industry should be off from them by very nearly or more than half.
And in late night TV, talk shows, and game shows, where the white-dudeness has been extremely noticeable lately as several late night shows have changed hands, the disparity is somehow even worse. Women made up only 18% of late night writers for 2013-14, and people of color accounted for just 3.5%. That’s just sad.
How sad? Story time: I went looking for a great and fitting image of some of my favorite funny people to go with this post, and I found, to my dismay, that Jessica Williams isn’t listed as a Daily Show writer, and Larry Wilmore isn’t listed as a writer for either the Daily Show or Nightly Show. Both of them have “writer” included in their personal bios—even Jessica Williams’ official Daily Show bio—which just makes their lack of credit as official writers look even worse.
Though, it is worth noting that the Nightly Show‘s head writer is Robin Thede, a woman of color. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised by my findings judging by the contents of the survey, but geez. Get it together, television.