Television is currently in a transitional period, and it's been clear that many of the 2015 TV shows are changing the game. Between Netflix gaining more Golden Globe nominations than HBO, a whole reign of new superheroes coming to the small-screen, and an overall audience that is desperate for real, relatable content, 2015 was the year that new shows began to not only win over audiences — but also make a statement. In fact, many people are saying that not only is television becoming a more diverse landscape than film, but production companies are also striving to make their diversity "feel authentic" — according to the Washington Post. Because, after all, television is more than just your average numbers game.
Yes, seeing higher numbers of diversity in regards to LGBT characters is nice. And I love seeing a rise in minorities taking on lead roles, and female characters playing more than just "the wife." Those changes are absolutely deemed as successes! However, the thing that really stood out about the television shows of 2015 is that the content actually felt more real. Because, while it's important for television to include all types of people, it's also more important that those characters being represented actually act like real people. And, in 2015, it definitely seems as if that shift is happening. Whether it be an increase in diversity, a brand-new unique perspective, or even content that's directly pointing out the flaws in television, 2015 was an amazing year. And here are the shows that made it so game-changing.
1. Master of None
Aziz Ansari looked Hollywood right in the face and pointed out all of their flaws with his brand-new show on Netflix. Not only was there an entire episode devoted to the lack of diversity and "real" characters on television — titled "Indians on TV" — but the show also completely ignores the need for any male character to be "masculine." The show not only directly exposes Hollywood's flaws, but also takes one giant stride in the right direction for the future of television.
2. Jessica Jones
Yes, Jessica Jones is yet another Marvel television show hitting Netflix, but what made this show so completely unique is that Jessica is not your average superhero. Not only does the show feature a female-led storyline with multiple strong female supporting characters, but, as of right now, the superhero at its forefront doesn't go around in spandex saving the city. And what exactly is she fighting for? The right for consent. She lives as a former victim of mind control and as a victim of rape, and constantly tries to help other victims see that neither thing was their fault. This show is nothing less than empowering for women as a whole and for women going through such serious issues.
OK, so DC Comics' own female superhero might not seem like a huge stride in television to you just yet. But, here's why she is: Supergirl follows a female superhero on network television. While still sporting the typical superheroine attire, this girl is not all about cleavage and being a guy's ultimate "dream girl." This Supergirl is a real person. She's quirky, relatable, and all-around normal. She's setting an example for strong female-led television shows to come.
2015 started out with a bang when Empire started on FOX. The hit-show not only features an almost all-black cast, but it's not produced by Shonda Rhimes — who is often the only one credited with bringing female-led, diverse casts to network television. Instead, this show is breaking down African-American stereotypes and surprising people at every turn with its ratings compared to other network shows. Empire has also managed to score itself Emmy nominations earlier this year and multiple Golden Globe nods.
5. Fresh Off The Boat
Master of None and Empire weren't the only shows getting real about their diverse casts in 2015. Earlier this year, a network comedy based off of the true story of Eddie Huang also hit television in the form of Fresh Off The Boat. The show tells a story about a Taiwanese family that moved to America in the '90s and faces everything from stereotypes to your everyday problems of entering a new community. It garners not only laughs, but eye-opening reactions from an audience who has never seen a show quite like this one ever before.
6. Mr. Robot
When you first hear that Mr. Robot is a show about a hacker, you might think it's going to be another implausible cliche about exactly what hackers are capable of. However, this USA Network show is so much more than you may think. Mr. Robot features diversity, and a brand-new look at how your "typical hacker" might be — without any of the stereotypes.
These shows are so groundbreaking that I can't imagine we would have had any of them a year ago, so they certainly deserve a round of applause. Diversity on television might be an uphill battle we're fighting, but, slowly but surely, a victory is bound to come.
Images: Netflix (3); CBS; FOX; ABC; USA Network