Showtime’s Masters Of Sex and HBO’s Boardwalk Empire and The Brink are among the 27 TV shows that hired no female or minority directors during the past season, according to the DGA’s latest diversity report, landing them on the guild’s annual Worst List. The list of shows that hired zero women as directors is even longer: 32.
Also making the Worst List were ABC Family’s Mystery Girls and FXX’s Man Seeking Woman and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. And Always Sunny is anything but if you’re a director looking for work who isn’t white and male: The study found that the offbeat comedy hasn’t hired a single female or minority director for any of its 115 episodes spanning 10 seasons. Meanwhile, the CW/WB series Supernatural has hired only two women and three minority men to direct to direct five of its 197 total episodes since 2005.
At the other end of the spectrum, the guild found that 57 series — 21% of all series examined — had “demonstrated a commitment to diverse hiring practices, hiring women or minorities to direct at least 40% of episodes.” Fox’s Empire hired nine women and minority directors to direct nine of its 11 episodes, while Showtime’s Homeland hired women and minorities to direct 19 of 47 total episodes (40%) during the past four season.
Shows that topped the DGA’s Best List, with women and minorities directing 100% of their episodes, all are from BET: Being Mary Jane, The Game and Single Ladies. CBS’ The McCarthys was ranked highest among the non-BET shows, with 93% of its episodes being directed by women and/or minorities. TBS’ Ground Floor was next at 90%, followed by Empire (82%) and ABC’s American Crime (80%).
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A show that the guild said has made a “dramatic turnaround” is ABC’s Last Man Standing. The comedy used no female or minority directors during the 2013-14 seasons but hired two minorities to direct nine episodes last season, increasing its season-to-season hiring stats from 0% to 41%.
The report had some good news for female directors: They directed 16% of all the scripted shows aired last season, a 14.3% increase over 14% the prior season.
First-time female directors, however, still are finding it harder to break into the business than their male counterparts. The report found that there were 128 directors hired in the 2014-15 season who had not directed episodic television before. Of those, 84% were male – up from 80% in the 2013-14 season.
“The uptick in the number of episodes directed by women — modest but hopeful — is just a drop in the bucket of what needs to be done by studios, networks and showrunners before we can begin to realize equal opportunities in television for our members,” said DGA president Paris Bacclay. “With so many more episodes and work opportunities, employers should seize the opportunity for diversity with their choices, especially when it comes to first-time episodic directors. Without employers making a concerted effort to bringing a more diverse mix of new entrants to the hiring pool, we won’t see meaningful and lasting change.”
In May, the ACLU blasted the industry for not employing enough female directors. Calling for the federal government to investigate, the civil rights group blamed the DGA — which has nothing to do with who actually gets hired — for not doing enough. The guild’s latest report is not expected to mollify the ACLU.
On the positive side, the guild found that the employment pie is getting bigger, which means more directing jobs for everyone. There were 3,910 episodes of television in the 2014-15 season — up 10% from the prior season’s 3,562. And with that expansion came more helming jobs for women, who directed 618 total episodes, representing 21% year-over-year growth over 509 episodes in the prior season; that’s more than twice the growth rate in number of episodes. Additionally, the total number of individual women directors employed in episodic television grew 16% to 149, up from 129 in 2013-14.
Minority directors, meanwhile, saw their share of directing jobs dip 5.2% during the same time span — falling from 19% to 18% of the jobs. Minorities directed a total of 694 episodes, up from 660 in 2013-14. And while that reflects a 5% increase in the number of episode directed by minorities over the 2013-14 season, it represents half the 10% growth of total episodes.
It should be noted that there was a 3% increase in the hiring of minority males in the 2013-14 season that was attributed entirely to the high number of episodes directed by a single director: Tyler Perry. He directed 54 fewer in the 2014-15 season, contributing to a 2% reduction in the number of episodes directed by male minorities.
The report, which only covered shows shot under a DGA contract, also found that:
• The percentage of episodes directed by Caucasian males remained static at 69%;
• The percentage of episodes directed by minority males decreased from 17% to 15%;
• The percentage of episodes directed by Caucasian females increased from 12% to 13%; and
• The percentage of episodes directed by minority females increased from 2% to 3%.
“In our diversity work at the DGA, we hear a lot of reasons from studios, networks and series showrunners about why they are powerless to make a change when it comes to diverse hiring,” Bethany Rooney and Todd Holland, co-chairs of the DGA’s Diversity Task Force, said in a statement. “It’s time for everyone to look closely at exactly how hiring decisions are made and for employers to take ownership and develop plans outlining the steps they will take to bring their hiring practices into the 21st century.” Read the full report here.
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