Three decades after The Cosby Show, the broadcast networks are finally making sitcoms again that more accurately represent and reflect the diverse makeup of their audiences. At Quartz, I wrote about new fall sitcoms Black-ish and Cristela, as well as midseason comedy Fresh Off the Boat.
In doing so, the network is finally beginning to correct the embarrassing dearth of sitcoms featuring non-white families. “If you look at shows now that seem to lack diversity, they actually seem dated, because America doesn’t look like that anymore,” ABC Entertainment President Paul Lee told reporters at the Television Critics Association’s summer press tour. “People want to see voices that reflect the America that they know. … That’s not so much diversity as authenticity.”
As just as Cosby Show did 30 years ago, these three shows focus on themes that viewers of all ethnicities can easily connect with. “We love having a diverse slate, but we think these shows are deeply relatable. [When I watch them], I am one of those families,” said Lee, who admits that the new shows will hopefully appeal to international audiences as well. “We have a chance to resonate in the US and beyond. But make no bones about it, these are American stories, all of them.”
It also helps that Black-ish is terrific, and one of fall’s best new comedies. ABC’s Lee, who is leading the charge towards presenting diverse families, knows that he and his peers still have a long way to go to close the gap. But these shows represent a very promising start.