Shonda Rhimes Chastises New Family Show for Lack of Diversity

This week, I’ve had no fewer than three exchanges with non-black friends (some white, some non-white) about how, for better or worse, their own hometowns were like the fictional Southern town of Paradise in Bunheads: small, touristy and absolutely devoid of multicultural townies. In discussing the conundrum of talking race with elementary school children, I found that, for those who grow up in predominantly black communities, the idea of a homogeneously white town is still a foreign concept. Could a show set in one introduce the idea of active or intentional racial homogeneity?

This is all presuming, of course, that a young girl (Rhimes’ eldest daughter, Harper, is ten.) would even want to continue watching Bunheads, a show that mainly focuses on a woman in her late 20s-early 30s finding herself, with the help of a much older maternal figure. At this point, the teen ballerinas featured here seem thrown in because they’re necessary to appeal to ABC Family’s core demographic.

What do you think? Should television casting always be diverse, regardless of where the show takes place? Is it enough to add a spot of color to a show where cultural diversity is unlikely to ever be explored? Should parents disallow or take issue with their children watching shows that don’t include people of color?

Stacia L. Brown