CBS Defends Predominantly White Male Pickups as Diverse, Reveal They Would Have Renewed Supergirl

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CBS allows Supergirl to move to another network, passes on Nancy Drew for being “too female,” and then we find out they ordered eight shows, six of which have white male leads, and think that’s diverse? What is going on over there?

The news of Supergirl getting picked up for Season 2 by The CW was a relief to many but viewers raised eyebrows at CBS when Nancy Drew wasn’t picked up for the Fall season. According to a report from Deadline it “tested well but skewed too female” for the network (Deadline’s words there, they weren’t quoting anyone specifically).

Skip to today. CBS Entertainment president Glenn Geller spoke to reporters about what they did pick up. The Hollywood Reporter writes:

Of CBS’ eight new series, only one is female-driven (Doubt) and only one features a black lead (Training Day with newcomer Justin Cornwell starring opposite Bill Paxton). Meanwhile, CBS’ six other newly ordered series are all toplined by white stars: Kevin James (Kevin Can Wait), Michael Weatherly (Bull), MacGyver (Lucas Till), Pure Genius (Dermot Mulroney), The Great Indoors (Joel McHale) and Man With a Plan (Matt LeBlanc).

“We are the network that has Madam Secretary, 2 Broke Girls and Mom — we have lots of female leads, we have a great balance,” said Geller. “Actually, our new series are more diverse this year than last year…I think that’s phenomenal. We are definitely moving in the right direction.”

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Many don’t reach far enough for diversity. They think “well we’ve got one of this or one of that” or “we’ve got women so we don’t need women of color of LGBTQ representation” and stop there. You can never stop diversifying and you certainly shouldn’t use the word diverse if you’re slate is precisely not that.

Meanwhile, Deadline spoke to chairman and chief executive of CBS Les Moonves about the Supergirl decision. “It’s great to own two networks,” he said, swimming in his giant money pit. “Supergirl fits better on the CW.”

Moonves praised CBS’ partnership with Warner Bros. and his relationship with CEO Kevin Tsujihara. He said that talks about Supergirl went on for a month before the agreement for the show’s relocation to the CW was made.

‘If they didn’t go there, we would’ve probably taken it back,’ Moonves said.

Gellar echoed this earlier that day, “And who would say we wouldn’t have picked it up had it not gone to the CW.”” But. So. Huh? Also, Deadline has some interesting to say about Supergirl’s ratings.

Despite the fact that its numbers tapered off significantly after a strong start, Supergirl, aided by a solid DVR play, averaged a 2.4 rating among adults 18-49 in a competitive time slot, ranking as the No. 1 new CBS drama and No. 4 new network series overall (behind only Blindspot, Life In Pieces and Quantico) in the demo this season. It is CBS’ youngest-skewing new drama and averaged nearly 10 million viewers.

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Believe me, I’m one of many who think Supergirl will thrive at The CW and create more opportunities for crossover fun (and one who wondered why it was being placed at CBS to begin with) but this is just such an odd situation.

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18 Responses to “CBS Defends Predominantly White Male Pickups as Diverse, Reveal They Would Have Renewed Supergirl

  1. […] According to HitFix (which, sidebar, check out the John Boyega/Pacific Rim 2 article I just did up there!), Superman will show up in the first two episodes of the season when the show debuts on The CW. […]

  2. Zefram Mann says:

    On the plus side, nice to see Bill Paxton getting work. Will he be playing the corrupt detective? He certainly made a good show at being a villain in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

  3. JayFab says:

    They said themselves on Supergirl last year. They had Cat Grant describe two straight white men, a straight white woman, and a straight black man as racially diverse.

  4. Social Justice Kamen Rider says:

    Amused at how CBS is absolutely refusing to acknowledge the existence of the Rush Hour series. Like, that’s a show with majority POC characters, but they’re not even willing to use THAT for their “diversity” statement.

    • Pontifex says:

      Considering that they canceled it, they can hardly brag about the diversity it brought them. That’s too bad, I like Aimee Garcia, and the tall guy was good, and I hope he gets more work.

      • Social Justice Kamen Rider says:

        They never really gave it a chance. 10PM Timeslot with barely any advertising.

  5. They Call Me The Fizz says:

    “We love Supergirl! We just don’t like footing the bill for her…” *sideeye*

  6. Pontifex says:

    So of the top four new shows this last season, three were female fronted, one of whom was a WOC from India? And this doesn’t f***ing sink in?

    I loved both Quantico and Blindspot, Jamie Alexander was perfectly cast as Jane Doe, while also being dynamite in the action scenes, and Alex Parrish is a great character, well played by Chopra, of whom I was already a fan.

    It is clear that diversity works, and that the public wants it. But these executives so often seem to be thinking a decade behind, If CBS want to start skewing less rich,old, and white (and there are hints they do), they are going to have either change their thinking, or hire a younger, truly diverse crew to do their thinking for them. Actually, scratch that former option.

  7. Aila says:

    Eh, I was only watching them for Supergirl. Bye bye CBS, never watched you before then, won’t be watching you after.

  8. Jason Rye says:

    They were not going to renew Supergirl, if they had any intention that deal would not have moved as fast as it did. This is just PR back peddling at its finest.

  9. Shoot4themoon says:

    Did all the reporters pull a Wolf Blitzer and not pose a follow-up question to Geller re: the blatant bullshit of their new lineup being remotely diverse? And, btw, Training Day – the one show they could conceivably point to as at least being racially diverse – doesn’t appear until mid-season. All the White Guy Shows? Yep. In the Fall.

    • VindicaSean says:

      Well they couldn’t very well cut short the season order for CSI: Conshohocken.

  10. Brian says:

    Supergirl is definitely more at home on the CW with the crossover opportunities and the fact that CBS is basically the old people network. I don’t know that I heard enough about the premise for the new Nancy Drew show to decide if I wanted to watch but Sarah Shahi is always a draw. Would it basically be Veronica Mars? and would it be high school era Veronica or movie era? Either way I liked both really. But would you be stepping on the toes of iZombie? Heck. Put Rob Thomas in charge of both of them. and dammit I need more of Sarah Shahi on my tube.

    holy crap, I got it. We need Root and Shaw to have their own show. When is that going to be on my TV? Wait this is all coming together. Bad Robot produces it with Warner Bros Television. I should be a programming exec

    • Nicole says:

      For Nancy Drew, in my head I pictured it as more of a “Harriet the Spy.” Maybe it’s because I was reading Harriet the Spy around the same time as Nancy Drew as a kid.

  11. Adrian says:

    People generally hate admitting their faults and TV networks are no different; plus then they would be obligated to, you know, do something about it, which might result in something ghastly like improving their network’s viewership, making them more attractive to the advertisers, and result in making more money.

  12. bandit_queen says:

    Hey, some of those white men are older than the others! That’s totally diverse! /s

  13. Vel Venturi says:

    So TV! Much diversity! Bleargh. This is why I don’t bother with network TV.

  14. VindicaSean says:

    Michael Weatherly? The former Mr. Jessica Alba gets his own show, but Nancy friggin’ Drew got passed on? And Kevin James? Why? Claiming this slate is diverse is….they’re basically saying, “We have a black castmember.” Come on.