Lack of Diversity in the Token Foursome Friendship Shows
Start writing a post
Entertainment

From 'Sex And The City' To 'Girls,' Why Aren't TV Gal Pals More Diverse?

Cough cough *white feminism*

160
scontent-iad3-1.cdninstagram.com
Instagram

Although I've never been one to watch a lot of television, I spent a good chunk of this summer watching all seven seasons of the iconic TV comedy, Sex and the City, and I shamelessly relished every episode of the series. Although I was several years (decades, even) late to the Sex and the City party, I could tell that, at the height of its popularity, it must have been an empowering and novel expression of feminine sexuality and friendship. But amidst wondering if I was a Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte, or Samantha, I began to contemplate what the show would be like if today's rightfully heightened standards for diversity and representation had been implemented.

Beyond the casting of four white women as the series' four ingenues, it was apparent that the script hardly ever even introduced the four gal pals to women of color. One of the only featured women of color in Sex and the City was in the Season 3 episode, "No Ifs, Ands, or Buts." The conflict of this episode spurs from an African American woman named Adeena, who disapproves of the interracial relationship between Samantha and her brother, Chivon. She justifies her disapproval using the poorly written line, "it's a black thing." The fact that Adeena was the most well-developed woman of color in the entire series is pathetic.

Watching the series, I also began to draw the obvious parallels that exist between Sex and the City and Girls, another HBO series about four women in New York navigating the world of dating, careers, and friendship. Both series liberally depict female sexuality and female friendship. For this reason, they're empowering, but they don't depict much diversity in the process. This is, at best, odd considering that Girls was made as a series so recently. We've to lead ourselves to believe that people have become more aware of diversity and intersectionality since the days of Sex and the City.

But even with the progression of time and the progression of, notably, society's norms, the quality, and quantity of representation in each series is about the same: the main four girls are white and are all well off financially. And while showing the success of women is obviously something to have triumphed, it wouldn't deprecate the agency and strength of the characters to feature more socioeconomic diversity.

Although I truly do love and often commend Sex and the City and Girls, both series still go to show that some of the most seemingly empowering television shows for woman-identifying viewers are parables of white feminism in disguise. And far beyond race and class, there are many other social identities that go unaddressed or are poorly represented among the characters in each of these series.

Ultimately, Sex and the City and Girls both succeed in depicting female agency, creativity, body positivity, success, and companionship-- but who is to say that they actually succeed in empowering all women? Of course, there's also the issue of tokenism or the idea of making a cast diverse, but not out of an artificial obligation to be "politically correct" and without resorting to stereotyping as a means of characterization.

It's easy for us to say that we're more aware of diversity in our media, but we still remain relatively uncritical of segregated female friendships. It seems like the only time we ever see a diverse group of girlfriends in the media is a product of tokenism rather than of chance. To quote something America Ferrera wrote for Deadline Hollywood, "Tokenism is about inserting diverse characters because you feel you have to; true diversity means writing characters that aren't just defined by the color of their skin, and casting the right actor for the role."

Lena Dunham defended the lack of diversity in Girls by explaining that she wanted to avoid tokenism. While tokenism is obviously something that should be avoided, she instead opted to blatantly write her characters as "two wasps and two jews" (WASP being an acronym for White Anglo Saxon Protestant.) Dunham's blatant decision to make all of the main characters white before even beginning the casting process, then, was the problem. And while the four women of Sex and the City are all costumed as New York City wasps, the way the characters were written could have lead to diverse casting-- it just didn't happen when it came time for casting.

In any case, real groups of female-identifying friends look and act much different than the groups of female-identifying friends seen on TV. And whether the culprit is writing or casting, it's time to diversify our fun-loving groups of TV friends without taking a turn towards tokenism. And though this brings up a whole host of other issues surrounding inclusion and casting, I hope that the next iconic foursome of women-identifying characters we see take on life is more representative of the groups of girlfriends that are watching at home.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Pexels

Let me just say, first and foremost, happy Thanksgiving! This holiday is known as a time for families to get together, to be thankful for the blessings in our lives, and to dig into a lot of very delicious food that you'll be having as leftovers for the next week. However, this family time is certainly not without downsides, as we are forced to confront certain family members on matters that should best be left out of Thanksgiving discussion, and in my case, this happens to be my father, who is the only republican in our family (that I know of).

(FYI: Since I still live with my dad, it's not just Thanksgiving when I'm forced to listen to him talk about politics, as I had gotten a taste of where he stands just from earlier this year alone.)

Keep Reading... Show less
Peter Truong

If you still have not figured out what you want to cook on Thanksgiving, baked macaroni and cheese is something worth considering. It is simple, affordable, and delicious. I have had many different types of baked mac and cheese and most are dry. I do not like a dry mac and cheese, it just does not seem appealing to me. If you like the creamy cheesy essence of mac and cheese, look no further, this recipe is for you.

Ingredients:

Keep Reading... Show less

As a first-year college student, I've been doing a lot of meeting and introducing myself to people, often with the classic format of "name, hometown, major".

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

This Simple 7-Step DIY Face Mask Combines Safety — And Sustainability

Instead of studying like I intended on doing today, I made a face mask for some reason and thought I'd share how I did.

91789

If you were looking for a simple way to make a mask, I am happy to share how I personally make them. I have a pretty small face in general, so I prefer having my homemade ones so they fit better. This is also a great alternative to just throwing away any clothes! Before starting, you will need to make sure you have fabric, thread, a needle, and pins; if you have a sewing machine, you obviously could use that instead of hand sewing it.

Keep Reading... Show less
Student Life

6 Ways To Handle The Stress Of Earning Your Degree From Your Childhood Bedroom

Oh so this was the room where I snuck cookies upstairs past my bedtime and stole R-Rated movies to watch when my parents were asleep and now I'm expected to earn my degree in this very same room?

51505
Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

It's definitely not easy, but it's something so many kids are struggling with right now.

Keep Reading... Show less

November is such an underrated month. With all the excitement that comes with Halloween ending and the holiday season around the corner, some people skip over it and go straight to their Christmas playlist. For me though, November is the perfect time to compile a playlist of songs that bring on major nostalgia which I think is perfect for this time of year. If you're looking for something to get you in that thankful spirit before you head into the Christmas spirit or something to play while you enjoy Friendsgiving, here are some go-to songs to add to your November playlist.

Keep Reading... Show less

Taylor Swift is famous for her Easter eggs on social media that hint at what is coming next for her. Over the past few days, fans noticed a change in Swift's hair when she was accepting her win as Apple's songwriter of the year that was reminiscent of the "Red" era. Of course, this has caused widespread speculation that Swift has begun to re-record her masters.

Keep Reading... Show less

While joyful, the holiday season can also be stressful for many and that's A-O.K. Plus, with the added tension that is 2020, this year's holiday season is a lot, to put it simply.

This is your reminder to put yourself first and listen to what you're yearning for. Deep down, you know what you need to thrive and I know that you can get there.

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments