White Males Still Direct Most Primetime Shows, DGA Report Says

Seventy-three percent of the shows on primetime TV, about the same as last year, are directed by males, according to a Directors Guild report

Last Updated: September 27, 2012 @ 4:32 PM

When it comes to ethnic and gender diversity, primetime television directing isn't getting any better, according to a report issued Thursday by the Directors Guild of America.

Comparing figures for 2011-2012 with figures for 2010-2011, this year’s report shows that the percentage of episodes directed by Caucasian males increased slightly, from 72 percent to 73 percent; the percentage of episodes directed by Caucasian females remained the same at 11 percent; the percentage of episodes directed by male minorities decreased from 14 percent to 13 percent and the percentage of episodes directed by female minorities increased, from 3 percent to 4 percent.

The Directors Guild of America report analyzed the ethnicity and gender of directors hired to direct primetime episodic television across broadcast, basic cable and premium cable.

Also read: Directors Guild Awards Set for February 2, 201

The DGA analyzed more than 3,100 episodes produced in the 2011-2012 network television season and the 2011 cable television season from more than 190 scripted television series. 

Among one-hour series, Caucasian males directed 76% of all episodes, and in half-hour series, Caucasian males directed 69% of all episodes.

“Our industry has to do better,” said Paris Barclay ("Sons of Anarchy"), the DGA’s first vp and co-chair of the diversity task force of the DGA National Board. “In this day and age, it’s quite disappointing that so many shows failed to hire even a single woman or minority director during the course of an entire season – even shows whose cast and crew otherwise is notably diverse.

"And, ‘We just don’t know anybody,’ doesn’t cut it anymore – the pool of talented and experienced women and minority directors grows every year, and too many of these qualified, capable directors are still overlooked.”

The DGA maintains a contact list of experienced women and minority directors to make it easier for producers making hiring decisions. The list can be obtained by any production company by contacting the DGA.

The DGA cited several shows with no female or minority directing: “Chemistry” (Chemistry Series/Cinemax); “Dallas” (Horizon Scripted Television/TNT); “The Inbetweeners” (On Site Productions/MTV); “Leverage” (Leverage Productions/TNT); “Retired at 35” (King Street Productions/TV Land); “Supernatural” (NS Pictures/CW); “Veep” (Home Box Office/HBO); and “Workaholics” (50/50 Productions/Comedy Central).

In designing the parameters for this year’s report, the DGA made several changes to its methodology and data collection to improve accuracy and make it easier to compare data to other years.

These changes included defining specific start and end dates for each television season production cycle; capturing more DGA-covered episodes; implementing additional automated calculation procedures; and clarifying, in cooperation with the companies, the status of directors whose ethnicity or gender had previously been identified as “unknown.”

As a result of these improvements, the DGA was able to improve the data for the previous 2010-2011 television season to more accurately report the statistics.

The data now shows that in the 2010-2011 television season, Caucasian males directed 72 percent of all episodes (not 77 as had been reported); Caucasian females directed 11 percent of all episodes (unchanged from the 11 that had been reported); minority males directed 14 percent of all episodes (up from the 11 that had been reported); and minority females directed 3 percent of all episodes (up from the 1 that had been reported).

The changes in data are a result of capturing nearly 300 additional episodes for the season and more accurately identifying the diversity status of the directors.