Diversity in entertainment is essential because it allows the media to account for the diversity of their audience, while creating inclusion for those seeking acceptance. It also provides the audience with an opportunity to educate themselves on a multitude of cultures. So, why don’t streaming services include more diversity? The answer is simple: they do. However, this diversity does not equate to accurate representation. Instead, it is riddled with racist connotations, perpetuates negative stereotypes, and rather than solving the problem of lack of diversity, seems to make it worse.

The Spanish drama Elite (2018-) showcases teenage Muslim Nadia, who takes off her hijab on multiple occasions throughout the show in an attempt to ‘fit in’ and even impress a boy at her school, all while being portrayed as ‘empowering.’ This not only disrespects women in the Muslim community, but it adds to the negative stereotype that they are oppressed. It can be discouraging to see one’s religion being demeaned in such a blatant manner, especially for the youth. Another example of misrepresentation would be how Black women are typically portrayed as aggressive with no vulnerability or layers of personality. This archetype stems from stereotypical views of African Americans. Indigenous men are also misrepresented and have negative connotations attached to their characters. Asian-Americans are not only over-sexualized, but they are also often regarded as intellectuals and nothing more. These stereotypes negatively impact the real world, as people who are not part of certain ethnic groups may truly believe the negative representation. The prevalence of misrepresentation in entertainment does more harm than good, as it conveys the wrong message to society.

Although there are positive representatives of ethnic groups, such as Nabila and Siddiq in The Walking Dead (2010), or the popular Indian teen, Devi, in Never Have I Ever (2020), it is essential for us to take a step forward and educate others in order to eliminate inaccurate representation. Some of these steps include:

  1. Educating peers on real and more accurate issues to ensure that they do not believe negative stereotypes to be realities. Try raising awareness on actual topics that relate to ethnic groups.
  2. Stop giving negative media attention. An example of this would be “hate-watching,” the act of watching a series or movie only to see how ‘bad’ it could be. This not only allows the industry to profit off of misrepresentation, but gives it more attention in the media.
  3. Engage in discussions and local clubs to encourage diversity. Reaching out and educating yourself on other religions and cultures can reduce negative stereotypical thought processes. 

Finally, make an active effort to amplify the voices of minorities. After all, why shouldn’t the audience look forward to having their stories represented rather than fear these tiresome stereotypes? Showrunners need to take a step back and realize that their shows have real-world implications.