A few minutes ago, my darling husband started talking to me from where he was reading Entertainment Weekly
in the bedroom. He wanted to let me know about a new show on SyFy about
super-powered crime fighters called Alphas
, because apparently Callum Keith Rennie is going to be in it (it looks like he'll be a reoccurring character, which most likely means he'll be a villain, because that's how SyFy rolls).
I asked Dom how many characters were in it and he said five. Then I said that without reading the article I could tell him how the team would look:
The leader would be a white male
There would be two other white guys on the team
There would be one black guy
There would be one woman, possibly of Asian descent
Turns out I was wrong--the female team member was played by a an American of Middle Eastern descent. The magazine had also made a mistake in that the cast has six members, not five, which naturally means there can be another female. She's white, of course.
I was surprised, though, to see that the Professor X analog of the team is a Dr. Rosen, because as far as I know that's a Jewish name and I'd been thinking that the Dr. Zimmerman of Sanctuary
was just a fluke. Then again they're both doctors, right? You wouldn't want, say, the Bad-Ass sniper dude to be Jewish. Because then you'd have to set the show in Israel.
Much as I honestly applaud SyFy for being brave enough to have a character who, based on her last name, could possibly be Muslim (not to mention how nice it is to see Jewish surnames), I still think there's a big damn problem when I can guess the ethnic and gender makeup of the cast almost exactly based exclusively on knowing that it's an action show and the number of team members.
And while the last nails in the coffin of my love for SyFy were brutally hammered when they chose to cancel SGA for the horrendously racist and misogynistic casting and character choices of Stargate: Universe
, I will say that I know they're not the only network that constantly uses these kind of ratios for their action teams. I don't want to keep picking on SyFy, but Stargate: Atlantis
and Stargate: SG-1
were perfect examples of this. So is Hawai'i 5-0
. There's always a bit of leeway as to the background of the female character if you already have a male PoC on the team, and if you have a team of three than the woman will most likely be the PoC as well. SyFy (sorry, SyFy! But seriously, you keep asking for it) did this with Being Human
; I'm afraid I don't know about the cast from the original UK production.
Actually, I do want to pick on SyFy. After reading the cast descriptions for Alphas
, it turns out that (of course!) the Really Strong Guy is black, the Sniper Dude (God forbid he not be a dude!) is named Cameron Hicks--seriously, does SyFy ration names or something? Or is the constant repetition some kind of in-joke?--the female character I mentioned earlier is described as 'a pretty girl in her twenties
' (emphasis mine). The other woman is--OMG I SO CALLED IT!--basically a super-sexy, manipulative bitch (springwoof
: she's a charmer, but ours is cooler). The youngest guy on the team is not quite the technopath I thought he'd be, but he still does shit with radio, television and cell-phone frequencies. He also seems to have an Autism Spectrum Disorder by the way he's described, but I'll bet the producers didn't want to out-and-out say so in order to not have to deal with anything approaching a real Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Way to go with the originality, SyFy! You keep pushing those boundaries, you edgy, outside-the-box, imagining greater network, you! ::golf clap::
I know I'm not the only one on LJ who's gotten more than a little bored and sick of this. It's not just the predictability, it's the fact that it's all so damn predictable. Why can't a team of five have four women and one man, with a female leader? Why do most of the characters in pretty much any show ever on a major network have to be white? It's tiring and it's sad and it's gotten to the point where looking at the new shows advertised on TV or in my husband's Entertainment Weekly
is just discouraging.
I'm sure that at least some of the new network shows promised this fall will be as fantastic as the glossy photo ads and the previews claim, but I'm voting with my eyes and I'm not going to watch any of them. The stories may be different, but the faces are way too much the same.