Women and Minorities Still Aren’t Getting as Many Jobs as TV Directors – Here Are the Worst Offenders

DGA's 2015-16 episodic television diversity report shows very slight improvement in representation – but many shows, plus the streaming services, are still lagging behind.
DGA Diversity Study: Women, Minorities Aren't Getting TV Director Jobs
Julie Hebert directs an episode of ABC's "American Crime"

Progress is slow when it comes to the hiring of more diverse and female directors on TV. According to the Directors Guild of America’s analysis of scripted TV series shot during the 2015-2016 TV season, the number of women and ethnic minorities behind the camera barely budged from the year before.

Episodic TV Directors by Gender and Ethnicity, 2015-16
Episodic TV Directors by Gender and Ethnicity, 2015-16DGA

The study reports that 17% of all TV episodes were directed by women last season – up a tick from 16% the previous year. Male and female ethnic minorities directed 19% of all episodes, vs. 18% during the 2014-2015 season.

Streaming video services (like Netflix and Amazon) may be the new kid in town, but the platform actually exhibited less diverse representation than the old guard broadcast and cable networks. Among episodes run by streaming services, just 8% were directed by ethnic minorities — compared to 19% among broadcast shows, 24% among basic cable series and 10% among premium cable shows.

Director Hiring by Distribution Platform (Ethnicity), 2015-16
Director Hiring by Distribution Platform (Ethnicity), 2015-16DGA

It should be noted that streaming platforms and premium cable networks run fewer shows than broadcast and cable. Also: Basic cable’s numbers benefit from the sheer number of shows produced by Tyler Perry, who accounts for nearly a quarter of all basic cable episodes directed by minorities.

READ MORE: How Do You Create a TV Industry That Supports Women Directors? You Try

“These numbers shine a light on the lack of real progress by employers in this industry, plain and simple,” said DGA president Paris Barclay. “There’s a long road ahead for true change to be realized. For that to happen, the pipeline will need to change at the point of entry.”

Director Hiring by Distribution Platform (Gender), 2015-16
Director Hiring by Distribution Platform (Gender), 2015-16DGA

Overall, DGA counted 4,061 episodes of scripted programming (out of 299 series examined) this past season – not including fare produced overseas and outside of the guild’s jurisdiction. The DGA highlighted 57 shows that hired women or minorities to direct fewer than 15% of episodes – shows that made its “Worst Of” list.

Among those 57, the DGA singled out 30 shows that didn’t have a single episode directed by a woman or ethnic minority this past season. In particular, it called out FX’s “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” and Comedy Central’s “Workaholics” for consistently landing on the DGA’s “Worst Of” list, year after year.

As a matter of fact, “It’s Always Sunny” (which debuted in 2005) and “Workaholics” (premiere in 2011) have never hired a woman or an ethnic minority to direct an episode.

READ MORE: FX’s John Landgraf: Peak TV Won’t Start to Decline Until 2018 or 2019

This summer, FX CEO John Landgraf told reporters that he had asked showrunners to do a better job hiring female and diverse directors. He was responding to a Variety story, written by Maureen Ryan, taking the network to task for its failure in that regard.

FX now reports that 51% of directors booked for this coming season are female and/or ethnically diverse. Already this past season, FX’s “Married,” “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story” and “Tyrant” made it to the DGA’s “Best Of” list – but “Fargo,” “It’s Always Sunny,” “Man Seeking Woman” were among shows on the “Worst Of” list.

Shows repeating on the “Worst Of” list include “Aquarius,” “Galavant,” “Henry Danger,” “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” “Longmire,” “Man Seeking Woman,” “Marco Polo,” “Workaholics,” “Marvel’s Daredevil,” “Gotham,” “Ray Donovan,” “Ballers,” “The Librarians,” “Powers,” “Black Sails” and “iZombie.”

The “Best Of” list is led by four shows that all had 100% of their episodes directed by women and/or minorities: “Being Mary Jane,” “The Game,” “Heartbeat” and “Zoe Ever After.” (Three of the four air on BET; “Heartbeat” was on NBC.)

Ranking of TV conglomerates, best to worst, 2015-16
Ranking of TV conglomerates, best to worst, 2015-16DGA

Among conglomerates, the DGA gave high marks to CBS Companies (which includes CBS and Showtime) for the highest percentage of women- and minority-directed episodes. Sony was given lowest marks for women directors, while HBO was lowest for minority directors.

“Employers will need to implement new hiring practices – from getting more people in the door and interviewing more diverse candidates, to hiring experienced directors instead of handing these jobs out as perks,” Barclay said.

You can read the full DGA report here.

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