By: Sasha Grapeworth

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Literally Marginalized: Nonwhite People at the Edges of TV Cast Photos

It’s fall TV premiere time! The time when we briefly glance up and say ‘Huh,” to the new batch of network television shows before going back to streaming House of Cards to our tablets. And if there’s one thing network TV loves, it’s white people. White people solving crimes, white people falling in love, white people just learning a lot about themselves. But TV loves nonwhite people too. Specifically, it loves them to stand back and to the side. A little further. Fuuurrrther. There we go.


This Asian lady would love to come be in the front of the photo, but she’s too busy standing way in the back connecting live wires with her bare hands.

Madam Secretary

To be fair, it wouldn’t be realistic if there were more black people at the White House. Besides, this gives Madam Secretary‘s marketing team options: They can go from this ‘

To this:


‘Whoa. Nasim Pedrad is Persian, not white, right?”

‘Yeah. She’s pretty ethnically ambiguous, though.”

‘You’re right. She can sit in the middle of the bench that Seaton Smith is about to fall off the edge of.”

‘We’re really progressive network execs.”

‘Oh we’re great.”


John Cho’s mouth is obscured by the flowing locks of a white woman. Race and Media Studies 201 students, you’re welcome for the thesis.

A to Z

‘Hey, can I get photos of our Asian-American cast members?”

‘Nah, they’re in the witness-protection program.”

‘Oh, with Katey Segal?”

‘Yeah. They all saw a murder together. It was fucked up.”

Marry Me

Alternate title: ‘White people hogging the couch but Tim Meadows doesn’t mind.” Marry Me complies with FCC requirements that you can’t show two black people’s full heads.


It’s not that people of color are alone out there on the edges; they just rarely make it into the middle foreground.

No matter how badass Jada Pinkett Smith looks in that dress, she can’t penetrate the Zone. The Zone only cares about the sick way those ties hang over those white boy bellies.

EXCEPTION 1: You have an Oscar

If you are an African-American lady who has been nominated for/won an Oscar, you may take two steps toward the center. Like Octavia Spencer in Red Band Society.

EXCEPTION 2: You are in a Shonda Rhimes show

Still helps to have that Oscar nom, though.

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