Diversity in Soap Operas Underrepresented for People of Color – Bluntly Stated, They’re Too White
Underrepresented communities who deserve better in daytime television.
Before Eli (Lamon Archey) and Lani (Sal Stowers) said ‘I do’ on Days of our Lives, Lamon Archey (Eli Grant) tweeted theirs would be the first African American wedding on Days to happen on screen in the soap opera’s 54-year history. While we were excited to watch the very sweet and romantic nuptials, we couldn’t ignore what a shameful statistic that is. Days of our Lives isn’t the only soap opera to fail communities of color though. For a genre that is known for blazing trails in telling socially conscious and relevant stories, The Bold and the Beautiful, Days of our Lives, General Hospital, and The Young and the Restless can’t seem to break away from centering their stories on white characters. We can only hope all the conversations in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests about expanded representation in front of and behind the cameras in Hollywood have reached the powers that be who are eyeing returns to production.
The Bold and the Beautiful
An ongoing critique of The Bold and the Beautiful is, considering it’s based in the fashion industry in Los Angeles, it should have the most diverse cast, yet it has the least. They should have more than one LGBTQ+ character on the show as well as several characters and families of color, yet they do not. They don’t even use the character Maya, a transgender woman, and model, with ties to the Forresters. Then there’s Justin Barber, who is little more than Bill’s right-hand man despite being on the canvas for over 10 years and Carter Walton only pops up to perform weddings in the Forrester living room. There’s also Zoe Buckingham who got some airtime during Thomas’ storyline, but other than those recurring Black characters, all the major players on the canvas are white.
Days of our Lives
Days of our Lives is probably the most diverse in terms of race, but they have squandered many opportunities to deepen their characters’ stories. Latina Gabi Hernandez had parents and a couple of siblings at one time, but with Galen Gering leaving as Rafe Hernandez, it will now just be just her and her daughter Ari. Abe Carver has been on the show for decades yet he rarely has a storyline. And why haven’t they brought his son Theo back yet? Haley Chen and Melinda Trask, who are of Chinese descent, had promising avenues to explore, but they were both written out. Mr. Wei Shin is often mentioned as a DiMera board member based in Hong Kong, but he has only been seen a handful of times, and his son Li was introduced but has only been seen once in Salem.
General Hospital seems to like to introduce a diverse cast of characters, but not really write for them. The Chinese-American character Brad Cooper was given the backstory of being related to the previously established Wu mob family but, despite General Hospital loving those types of stories, they’ve never explored it. Now he’s serving time in prison with no word on his return. The Ward family, who is Black, has direct ties to the Quartermaines, but no one from that branch of the family tree has been seen in almost a decade. Jordan Ashford was recently given a compelling storyline connecting her to new villain Cyrus Renault, but that increasingly became more about Sonny Corinthos before production shut down.
The Young and the Restless
The Young and the Restless alum Victoria Rowell has called out CBS/Sony for years over their lack of diversity. Her character, Drucilla, was part of the once-thriving Winters family, but now only consists of Devon Hamilton who is often in the background of his own storylines, his sister Lily Winters whose children are off-screen and their cousin Nate Hastings who is barely written for. While it may not be the storyline many fans want for her, Amanda Sinclair has had decent screen time since her appearance in Genoa City, but Devon’s girlfriend, Elena Dawson, could use more fleshing out. Speaking of the billionaire tycoon, Devon should have a business rival catapulting him into Victor Newman/Jack Abbott status. We have just the suggestion – the never mentioned Vietnamese born Keemo Abbott who was written off a year after being introduced as Jack’s son. And, like the Hernandez’s in Salem, the Rosales family was once well rounded, but now it’s just Rey and Lola. It’s a shame too because their parents Celeste and Adrian were teased as pairings for siblings Jack and Tracy Abbott respectively but they were written out as quickly as they were introduced.
These are just a few examples of the characters soap operas could, and should, explore more. Because just like with white characters, there can be more than one Black, Asian, Latino, etc. family at one time on the canvas. And we definitely shouldn’t have to wait another 54 years for another milestone wedding.
Look through our gallery of more characters of color who deserve[d] to have more stories written for them and sound off on the issue of diversity and representation in soap operas below. Sign up for Soaps.com’s newsletter to be alerted to more stories like these as well as breaking soap opera news.