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With so many binge-worthy TV shows floating around and new ones constantly being released, I have compiled a list of some more recent TV shows that rank high on the diversity scale for both the cast and crew. This list contains mild spoilers and is in no particular ranking order.
Without further delay, here are 10 TV shows with diversity to watch in 2021.
Awkwafina is Nora From Queens is a TV show that is not only diverse in the cast, but also in the crew. With a writing crew consisting of mostly women, Awkwafina is Nora From Queens is a charming American comedy television series that was released in January of 2020. The TV show stars Nora Lum, known professionally as Awkwafina, who is best known for her role in the 2019 film The Farewell, which earned Awkwafina a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress, as well as her voice acting in Disney’s 2021 animated film Raya and the Last Dragon.
Awkwafina is Nora From Queens follows Nora Lum, a young woman who is raised by her father (BD Wong) and grandmother (Lori Tan Chinn), alongside her cousin (Bowen Yang). The comedy series depicts Nora Lum as a woman in her 20’s navigating her way through young adulthood in Flushing, New York – with humor, awkwardness, and heart throughout.
With a lack of Asian representation in television series, Awkwafina is Nora From Queens offers a fresh new look to the American comedy genre. There is still time to binge the first season before the second season is scheduled to air on August 18, 2021.
Being a huge Marvel fan, there was no way I could make this list without bringing up the new Marvel television series Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Falcon and the Winter Soldier is an American television miniseries based on Marvel Comics, brought to the screen in March of 2021. The series includes two well-known characters from the Captain America movies (as well as the Avengers movies): Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) and Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan).
The series follows the mismatched duo, who teams up to fight for a common interest, utilizing unlikely allies to achieve their desired outcome. The series includes drama, action, and even some comedy, which is inevitable when pairing this duo together.
Marvel hasn’t always been a staple for diversity as the “phase one” heroes have been primarily white men, but they are striving to bring more diversity to the table. Falcon and the Winter Soldier is a push in the right direction as the miniseries puts a superhero of color in the leading role rather than shoving them to the side. The series directly addresses what it is like being a superhero of color amongst the sea of white heroes as well as what it means to be “Captain America” as a black man.
While on the topic of Marvel, I have to mention another TV show recently released by Marvel that has also created a push for diversity. WandaVision was the first of Marvel’s new miniseries, released in January of 2021, and I was immediately on board. The series centers around Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany).
The series follows Wanda and Vision as they live a seemingly sweet suburban life, portrayed through a new decade of film in each episode. The series has a darker undertone that becomes increasingly more apparent with each passing episode.
As mentioned earlier, Marvel is pushing toward more diversity, and WandaVision is an example of this as it centers around Wanda – arguably one of the strongest heroes within Marvel. Like heroes of color, heroines have been neglected for so long. However, Marvel is starting to see and portray them as more than sexualized sidekicks. WandaVision not only shows a badass heroine, but it also depicts Wanda’s strength through loss and mental illness, giving the series depth and suspense.
A Million Little Things also deserves a place on this list. This American family drama television series was released on September 26, 2018. With stars such as David Giuntoli, Romany Malco, Allison Miller, and many more, A Million Little Things is a series that should be put on your to-watch list, especially if you’re a fan of drama series such as This Is Us.
The series follows a group of friends who experience the loss of a close friend, and in turn, are motivated to live better/ fuller lives. The show broaches important topics (such as depression, suicide, and cancer) and evokes many important emotions (bring your tissues).
A Million Little Things shows great diversity in its cast and discusses taboo topics that are often brushed over or left out completely in other series. These discussions of suicide, depression, and cancer led this series to have varying ratings, as many find these topics uncomfortable. However, these topics are important to hear because they’re real. Season 4 of A Million Little Things is set to premiere on September 22, 2021, so make sure you catch up on the first 3 seasons.
Let me give you a fun and feisty TV show to check out. The American coming-of-age comedy-drama television series, Never Have I Ever, was released on April 27 of 2020. This series not only has a diverse cast starring Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, Ramona Young, and Lee Rodriguez, but it also has a diverse crew with creator Mindy Kaling.
The series depicts an example of modern-day life for a first-generation Indian American teenage girl and the complications that come along with that. The series is inspired by the creator Mindy Kaling’s actual childhood as an Indian American.
Never Have I Ever helps give Indian Americans the representation that is lacking in the wider American television realm. The onscreen and offscreen representation creates a fun diverse TV show that should definitely be added to your watch list.
American period drama television series Bridgerton took the world by storm when it was released on Christmas 2020. The series maintained a spot on Netflix’s top 10 list for 18 days when it was released and became a fan favorite quite quickly, but that is not the reason I have included it on this list. It made it to the list because besides being overall a good series, the cast includes actors of various ethnic backgrounds, creating a refreshingly diverse cast for a period drama.
The series is set in the Regency era in England and follows the powerful Bridgerton family as they attempt to find love. This series has lust, betrayal, power, and wealth: a combination that suits the period drama well.
As stated before, Bridgerton has refreshing diversity. The period drama genre, in particular, has a tendency to lack respectable diversity, but Bridgerton broke away from that sad norm, creating a cast that included the diversity we love to see onscreen. If you’re a fan of period dramas and are looking for one that also includes a diverse cast, Bridgerton may be the series for you. While there is only a single season, for the time being, have no fear, as the series has been renewed for a second, third, and fourth season already.
Tiny Pretty Things is an American drama television series based on a novel of the same name. The new Netflix original series’ first episode was released on December 14, 2020. It stars Casimere Jollette, Brennan Clost, Jess Salgueiro, as well as a number of other ethnically diverse actors. While not as popular or well known as Bridgerton, Tiny Pretty Things deserves a place on this list due to its diverse cast and crew.
The series follows a group of teenage dancers and the drama surrounding their ballet school. This series involves cutthroat competition, betrayal, and lies, making it a successful drama series.
Tiny Pretty Things rates high on the diversity scale as the cast includes actors of all backgrounds. There was a conscious effort to include the kind of diversity we would see in a modern American school. The main characters are black, white, Asian, biracial, LGBTQ, Muslim, and more. While Tiny Pretty Things has not yet been renewed for a second season, season one is still worth a watch.
On January 6, 2017, Netflix released a reboot of the 1975 American sitcom, One Day at a Time. Even the 1975 sitcom One Day at a Time tackled serious issues, particularly issues pertaining to second-wave feminism, making it a diverse watch in its own time period. The 2017 series is inspired by the 1975 sitcom but is centered around a Cuban-American family, tackling its own set of important issues. The series stars Justina Machado, Rita Moreno, Isabella Gomez along with others.
The comedy-drama series, One Day at a Time, follows Army Veteran Penelope (Justina Machado) and her Cuban-American family as they go through the ups and downs of life.
Not only does this series do a good job portraying the Cuban American experience, but it also includes a good LGBTQ story with Elena’s character (Isabella Gomez). While the future of One Day at a Time looks bleak because of its cancellation due to COVID-19 halting production, the 4 seasons available are worth a watch.
Feel Good is a British comedy-drama television series, which was released internationally on March 19, 2020. This series was created (in part) by Mae Martin, who also stars as the main character Mae. Martin created this series as a semi-autobiographical LGBTQ romantic comedy.
Mae, a Canadian comedian, meets Georgina or “George”(Charlotte Ritchie) a middle-class English woman, and a romance starts to bloom. Feel Good follows Mae and their girlfriend George as they explore their romantic relationship in modern-day Manchester.
As mentioned earlier, this series is highly based on Mae Martin’s actual life as a non-binary, queer Canadian comedian. Being non-binary and queer themself, Mae Martin portrays the semi-fictional version of themself perfectly. The series evokes so many emotions and is brilliantly written and incredibly honest, which is rare for television. With a total of 2 seasons, Feel Good is an absolute must-see and I highly recommend putting it on your watch list for 2021.
I wanted to end with an animated series that contains good diversity. The Dragon Prince is an American fantasy computer-animated television series, which was first released on September 14, 2018. The Dragon Prince has a main voice cast including Jack DeSena, Paula Burrows, and Sasha Rojen.
The series follows step-brothers and princes Callum (Jack DeSena) and Ezran (Sasha Rojen) and an elvan assassin named Rayla (Paula Burrows) as they take care of the infant dragon prince and work to bring peace to their warring lands.
The Dragon Prince has a very diverse cast and the characters portrayed come from a whole slew of different backgrounds. The characters themselves have good variation in race and ethnicity, but we also get representation from a minority we don’t see often in television much less animated television, that minority being the deaf community. Callum and Ezran’s aunt is deaf, but she is a fierce warrior who uses sign language to communicate. On top of just having the onscreen representation, this series shows us that despite our differences in race, ethnicity, ability, age, wealth, and power, we can come together to make the world a better place.
While I have more TV series on my own to-watch list, these 10 series are some that I recommend you add to yours. Whether you want action, romance, animation, comedy, or drama there is a diverse TV show on this list for you.
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