In the very white and very male world of horror and fantasy TV The Walking Dead is one of the most diverse shows behind the camera and in front of it.
Horror and science fiction TV has traditionally lacked diversity. Both in casting and in writing and directing the genre tended to skew white and male. And the shows have been targeted to a primarily white male audience.
Women, when they were included at all, were either typecast in worn out tropes like being weak and needing saving or being evil and intent on the destruction of the white male hero. Female writers and directors were scarce.
A lot of genre shows have faced intense criticism for this lack of diversity. Doctor Who and Sherlock have come under fire in the last couple of years for sexism. Game of Thrones was roundly criticized for the violence against women inherent in the show’s mythos.
But the most popular genre show of all time, and the top rated TV show on television, is revolutionizing the genre.
The Walking Dead is changing the game by having a diverse lineup of writers and directors as well as a diverse on-screen cast. The Walking Dead proves that diversity in all areas of the creation of the show creates a genre show that has mass appeal across all demographics.
Criticism of The Walking Dead
In a recent essay The Walking Dead was criticized for having a diversity problem behind the camera. Even the highly critical author admitted that the show has a very diverse on-screen ensemble cast. But the essay went on to criticize The Walking Dead’s lack of diversity among the writing staff and directors.
The show is not immune from criticism. But The Walking Dead has a higher percentage of minority writers and directors than any other genre show. So any criticism of the show’s diversity just doesn’t hold up.
Diversity By The Numbers
It’s hard to compare any other genre show to The Walking Dead. No other show comes close to The Walking Dead in ratings. It has double the ratings for the second most popular genre show, Game of Thrones. And it has more than five times the ratings of the third most popular genre show, American Horror Story.
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But the diversity of these shows is fairly easy to measure. American Horror Story comes the closest to The Walking Dead in diversity. 31% of American Horror Story episodes were directed by minorities. 37% of the episodes were written by minorities. Those numbers are pretty good.
Game of Thrones has a dismal track record when it comes to diversity. Only 1.6% of all the Game of Thrones episodes were directed by minorities. And only 6.6% of the episodes were written by minority writers.
But The Walking Dead comes out on top with 37% of the episodes being directed by minorities. And 37% of the episodes were written by minority writers. The Walking Dead is not only the most popular genre TV show, it’s also the most diverse.
The Walking Dead’s Widespread Appeal
In many ways The Walking Dead is the sleeper hit that no one saw coming. No one could have predicted that a horror drama about a post-apocalyptic world would consistently draw tens of millions of viewers. But part of the reason why the show has such a wide appeal is because of the diversity of the show.
The universal themes of the show like loyalty, love, family and survival resonate with people across the entire social spectrum.
The show strikes a chord with many different types of people because diverse voices and points of view are woven into the fabric from the show. From the writing and directing to the cast everyone can find something relatable in The Walking Dead.
Diversity in TV is a topic that goes far beyond genre shows. And it’s a problem that the industry must continue to address. But The Walking Dead is leading the way when it comes to prioritizing diversity in genre TV.