After announcing all their new shows yesterday, CBS has defended the decision to have all-male leads for their fall 17/18 line-up.
The move comes last season, when CBS was criticized for their lack of diversity and inclusivity for their new shows. At the time, all of their six new shows featured white men as the leads, and the head of the network, Glenn Geller, noted that they needed to do better.
“We’re very mindful at CBS of the importance of diversity and inclusion,” he said at the time during the 2016 TCA Summer Press Tour. “We need to do better, and we know it. That’s really it, we need to do better. In terms of leads we are definitely less diverse this year than last year, and like I said we need to do better.”
Since then, Geller has been forced to take a leave of absence from CBS following a heart attack, and it seems that, without him, the network has gone back on their word.
Announcing their fall line-up, it seems that CBS’s pledge for diversity hasn’t quite been answered.
Out of the six new shows coming to their schedule in the fall, only one person of color features in a lead role, and not one woman is the lead in a show.
At a press breakfast, current network chief Les Moonves was quizzed by a reporter about the apparent lack of female leads in their fall line-up. The reporter asked whether the network was worried about having an all-male line-up when women, traditionally, watch more television than men.
“Well, number one, more women watch CBS, percentage-wise, than any other network, so our shows have a lot of female appeal,” Moonves replied. “I don’t think we’ve ever had to apologize for having Madam Secretary and Lucy Liu [on Elementary], and The Good Fight and The Good Wife.”
Continuing, he explained that it was, in fact, the “best pilots that win.” Hmm…
“We do a number of pilots, a lot of them have women in starring roles. There are a lot of women on the schedule. The best pilots win at the end of the day. And we think our track record is okay,” Moonves argued.
As Entertainment Weekly report, however, the reporter was keen to press Moonves on the issue, noting that networks like FX were attempting to make sure that they had an even split of male and female directors, and questioned whether CBS were “moving in the wrong direction.”
“I don’t think that’s the case,” Moonves retorted. “Let me put on my CEO hat for a second because I’m not the president of entertainment. When I look at the totality of what CBS is, I look at news, I look at daytime, I look at sports, I look at Showtime, I look at The CW.
We have to admit, we’re a little disappointed by the lack of inclusivity in CBS’s new line-up. As we know, diversity and inclusivity can actually help change the world and save lives, so it’s a shame not to see the network stand by their promise of switching things up and taking a step towards the future.