If you ride public transportation, you've likely caught a glimpse of advertisements for the new fall television shows on the big three broadcast networks—ABC, NBC, and CBS. One such ad plastered across New York City heralds an inspiring return to television for Michael J. Fox, the famed Back to the Future actor who has battled Parkinson's Disease for over two decades, with an eponymous show on the 'Peacock' network. Another features Anna Faris, of Wayans brothers Scary Movie fame, getting the lead role in a new CBS comedy called Mom.
There's also sunny yellow messaging for an ABC sitcom show set in the 80's called The Goldbergs, staring Bridesmaids star Wendi McLendon-Covey and Curb Your Enthusiasm funnyman Jeff Garlin. Promising lineup, but once again, that alleged "post-racialism" has failed to make it's way to network TV in a meaningful way.
If you took a moment to view the new fall shows for the big networks, you might think that you were located somewhere in Europe instead of America. For another year, CBS seems to forget other races exist on television unless they are doing music or playing sports. None of their new nine shows features a minority as the lead character and David Alan Grier being used as a 4th choice supporting character in their Bad Teacher, a comedy based on the terrible, unmemorable movie starring Cameron Diaz.
CBS hasn't had a show with a Black lead character by him or herself, or a mostly Black cast since City of Angels in 2000, the gone-too-soon medical drama starring Blair Underwood, Vivica Fox, Hill Harper, and Gabrielle Union. It lasted just two seasons. It's a real shame considering that the network was home to iconic Black sitcoms Good Times and The Jeffersons.
Despite the success of Shonda Rhimes, Kerry Washington and Scandal, ABC has no new show featuring a Black lead character and only feature four Black supporting characters across 12 new shows. The Disney-owned network that once featured Family Matters and Hanging with Mr. Cooper doesn't seem to have much interest in another Black family sitcom
NBC isn't much better. Only Ironside, starring Underwood, is the only one of the new Fall series to feature a lead character that is Black. It's also worh nothing that, unlike some of their White colleagues who suddenly become TV stars without much experience, Black actors are unlikely to get lead roles unless they have proven for years their quality in both TV and movies like Underwood has.
The rest of NBC's lineup is very low on color, with the exception of The Blacklisted, which features notable, veteran Black actor Harry Lennix and Indian-English actress Parminder Nagra (both in The Blacklisted), as well as the comedy Welcome to the Family, which features a few Latino actors. That same show also stars Mike O'Malley, who TV networks continue to give star billing roles to despite failing so many times throughout the years. You can safely say that wouldn't happen if he were Black.
But the big three networks aren't the only ones struggling to locate Black actors these days, as both Fox and the CW have both produced disappointing levels of diversity this season as well.
The CW, which was once the WB—home to The Wayans Brothers, The Steve Harvey Show and Smart Guy—has historically featured few Black actors in it's young adult drama epics like Dawson's Creek, Supernatural and Gossip Girl. The network, which merged with the very Black UPN a few years back, has continued that tradition this season. Isaiah Washington, the 50-year-old actor from Grey's Anatomy and Love Jones fame, is the lone Black actor billed on one of the CW's new shows, The 100.
And though FOX gives prominent supporting roles to the excellent duo of Andre Braugher and Terry Crews on Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Nicole Beharie on Sleepy Hollow, they are predictably playing second banana to White leads. The rest of the network's 11 new shows feature no Black actors in key roles.
Will the lack of Black lead actors keep you from tuning into this season's new shows?