We had some criticisms for ABC Family’s new dance series Bunheads for its inaccuracies about the lives of young aspiring ballerinas, but it turns out that’s not the only aspect of the show being criticized as unrealistic. Just a few minutes into the show’s pilot on Monday night, Grey’s Anatomy creator Shonda Rhimes tweeted,
Hey @abcfbunheads: really? You couldn’t cast even ONE young dancer of color so I could feel good about my kid watching this show? NOT ONE?
If anyone were going to speak out about the show being pretty whitewashed, of course it would be Rhimes. It’s almost too fitting, like she’s become the poster child for a TV show that uses colorblind casting. Because what struck me as the weirdest aspect of this beginning Twitter feud was that Rhimes challenged a fellow female showrunner—Amy Sherman-Palladino, whose groundbreaking series Gilmore Girls was at its peak while Shonda was writing the screenplay for The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement.
I’d rather see Rhimes more supportive of someone whose work helped pave the way for Grey’s Anatomy to hit airwaves in 2005. After getting some flak from Twitter followers, she clarified,
I did love seeing girls of all shapes and sizes. That was great. Am a huge Gilmore Girls fan. Just pointing out one issue…
Of course, yes, we also don’t want a show where the only characters who “deserve” names and conflicts and dance sequences are white. I have to agree with Zap2it that showrunners are in a position of power where they should be more sensitive to presenting the most heterogenous cast possible: People of color, differently-abled folks, LGBT characters, etc. It’s that line between oblivious whitewashing and painfully obvious token casting, and knowing when it’s appropriate for a character to actually be white or some other privileged type.
Then again, Shonda Rhimes herself is in that position of power. Wouldn’t her smartest move to be to write those kinds of role models for her kids? To be fair, her kids are both under the age of 10 (I believe), so there’s nothing for them in Grey’s Anatomy right now. But it’s likely that she’ll have moved on to a new show by the time her older child is a preteen, so maybe she should try her hand at some age-appropriate (and colorblind) material.
Amy Sherman-Palladino doesn’t have a Twitter, so it was on ABC Family to respond to Rhimes tweet; so far, they’ve instead tweeted about other programming like Pretty Little Liars and have reblogged positive reviews. Typical social media work, sure, but I expected them to jump on this with some sort of statement.
Photo: ABC Family