UPDATED with Showtime claim and DGA response at bottom: Women and minority TV directors made modest gains during the 2015-16 season, according to the latest report from the Directors Guild, even though 10% of all episodic TV shows employed no women or minority directors at all.
Women directed 17% of all episodes, which the DGA called a “small” increase from 16% the prior year. Overall, that’s an increase of 5.56%. Ethnic minorities, meanwhile, directed 19% of the episodes – up from 18% the prior year. Overall, that one percentage point rise represents an increase of 6.25%.
The actual number of women and minority directors hired, meanwhile, showed significant gains this year over last because the employment “pie” on broadcast, cable and streaming series had grown considerably.
Of the 4,061 episodes analyzed by the DGA this year, women directed 702, which was 85 more episodes than last year – a 13.8% increase. The number of separate and individual women directors employed also went up: from 148 last season to 183 this year – a 23.6% increase. This means that more women got a shot at directing, not just the same number of women directing more episodes.
Ethnic minorities, meanwhile, directed 783 episodes this year, which is 89 more episodes than last year – a 12.8% increase. And while the percentage of episodes directed by Caucasian males decreased to 67% from 69% the year before, they still managed to get three more jobs this year than last – 2,717 compared to 2,714.
Altogether, the number of episodes analyzed by the DGA increased 4% from last year, which had grown 10% from the year before that.
“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 – because for that to happen, the pipeline will need to change at the point of entry. 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.”
Of the major platforms, broadcast led the way in the hiring of women (20%), and ranked high in the employment of ethnic minority directors (19%). Series produced for pay-cable outlets such as HBO and Showtime hired women to direct 15% of their episodes, and minorities to direct only 10%.
Shows produced for basic cable ranked lowest in the hiring of women (14%) and highest in the employment of minority directors (24%), although the guild noted that a single director, Tyler Perry, accounted for nearly a quarter of all basic cable episodes directed by ethnic minority directors this season.
The number episodes for high-budget original series that were made under DGA agreements for streaming platforms such as Netflix, Amazon and Hulu grew by a whopping 120% since last season, but just 8% of them were directed by ethnic minorities, and 17% by women. Barclay said that the lack of jobs for women and minority directors on these SVOD series is of “particular concern.”
CBS companies led the way among the eight largest TV studios and their subsidiaries, with women or minorities directing 41% of their 357 episodes on 19 series. HBO finished last with 22% – and the lowest percentage of minority directors (12.5%) and the second-lowest percentage of women directors (9%).
Twentieth Century Fox and NBCUniversal companies tied for second best overall with 37% women and minorities, followed by Disney/ABC companies (32%), Viacom companies (30%), Warner Bros. companies (28%), and Sony companies (23%), which hired the lowest percentage of women directors (8.3%).
Combined, these companies oversaw the production of more than 75% of the episodes covered in the report. Altogether, 33% of the directors they employed were women or minorities.
Among the most anticipated – and for many, dreaded – features of the report is the guild’s annual “best” and “worst” lists, and there were gains for women and minorities here, as well. The number of series that made the DGA’s “Worst Of” list – shows that hired women and minority directors on fewer than 15% of their episodes – decreased 7% this year to 57 series, while shows that made the DGA’s “Best Of” list – those that hired women or minority directors on at least 40% of their episodes – increased 28% this year to 73 series.
Last year, there were more shows on the “worst” list than on the “best list.” This year, there were more shows on the “best” list than on the “worst.”
The DGA found that 30 of the 299 network, cable and streaming series it examined hired no women or minority directors, which landed them all on the DGA’s “worst” list. Those 30 shows include six that didn’t hire any women or minorities two years running: ABC’s Galavant, FXX’s Man Seeking Woman, FX’s It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia; Netflix’s Marco Polo; Nickelodeon’s Henry Danger, and Comedy Central’s Workaholics.
“It is worth noting,” the DGA said, “that It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and Workaholics continue to bear the distinction of making the ‘Worst Of’ list year after year, having hired no women or minority directors since their respective debuts in 2005 and 2011.”
Showtime’s Ray Donovan, after two seasons of hiring no women or minority directors, “demonstrated only a slight improvement,” the guild said, “hiring an ethnic minority woman to direct one episode” – and once again landing it on the “Worst Of” list.
At the other end of the spectrum, the DGA found that 73 series, or 24.4% of the 299 series examined, “demonstrated a commitment to diverse hiring practices, hiring women or minorities to direct at least 40% of episodes.” And of those shows, 25 were returnees to the DGA’s “Best Of” list, including: Being Mary Jane; The Game; American Crime; Jane the Virgin; Black-ish; Last Man Standing; 12 Monkeys; Empire; Fresh Off the Boat; The Middle; Suits; Madam Secretary; Nicky, Ricky, Dicky & Dawn; Hit the Floor; Modern Family; The Odd Couple; Blue Bloods; The Fosters; Grimm; Nashville; Pretty Little Liars; Chicago PD; Criminal Minds; Homeland; and Girls.
All 36 directors on four shows this year – NBC’s Heartbeat and BET’s Being Mary Jane, The Game, and Zoe Ever After – were either women or minorities, and in many cases, both. On three other shows – TV Land’s The Soul Man, ABC’s American Crime, and the El Rey Network’s From Dusk Till Dawn – at least 90% of their 44 directors were women and/or minorities.
Pilots were not included in the survey, and the DGA noted that series that were primarily directed by one director for the entire season, while included in the overall data, were not singled out in its “best” and “worst” lists. Similarly, foreign series shot abroad with a significant number of episodes that were not covered by a DGA agreement were also not included in the lists.
Meanwhile, Showtime today disputed some of the data contained in the DGA’s latest TV diversity report regarding its show Ray Donovan, and the DGA has issued a correction.
The report states that “following two seasons of hiring no women or minority directors, Showtime’s Ray Donovan demonstrated only a slight improvement, hiring an ethnic minority woman to direct one episode.”
Showtime, however, noted that Lesli Linka Glatter directed an episode in 2015, as well as in 2013. In light of that, the DGA has amended its report by saying that after one season of hiring no women or minority directors, the show “demonstrated only a slight improvement, hiring a Caucasian woman to direct one episode.”
Showtime challenged several other portions of the report as well, though some of dispute appears to involve the 2015 cable season.
Saying that that “deliberate steps” have been taken since last year’s report “to change the numbers within the show’s directing ranks,” a spokesperson for Showtime told Deadline that “out of 12 episodes of Season 4 currently airing on Sunday nights this season, we had two female directors (Daisy von Scherler Mayer and Tricia Brock) and an African-American director (Stephen Williams). I understand the report is based on stats from a year ago, but wanted to check-in to let you know those numbers have changed. Also to note, that when the story says the 2015-16 season, it’s not entirely accurate as it doesn’t reflect the current season of Ray Donavan in 2016.”