2013 was a great year for television. So great, in fact, that many critics' best-of-the-year lists offered some especially enthusiastic and superlative praise. "One of the best years for TV in a long time," Time magazine noted. "One of the best years in TV history," the A.V. Club echoed a few weeks later.
But 2013’s stellar offerings didn’t come without their share of problems. Conversations about TV from the past calendar year raised questions about the character diversity and representations of minority groups. Why does Mindy Kaling only date white guys in The Mindy Project? Will Girls get over its race problem? Can Doctor Who overcome its disappointing whiteness and maleness? Given the success of Scandal and Grey’s Anatomy, why don’t more showrunners take cues from Shonda Rhimes and make diversity a priority? How can portrayals of bisexual people improve if television doesn’t even get female friendships right? Why is Orange Is the New Black the gold standard for TV diversity when even it could do so much better?
Some might minimize these complaints as the work of the PC police or rabid Tumblr social-justice warriors, but these questions matter. Seeing your lifestyle or identity represented on a television screen is validating, and it's easy to take that validation for granted if you're used to seeing people like you on every channel at every hour. When it doesn't happen, the message is clear: You're not important enough to have your stories told. Your identity—as a racial or ethnic minority, as a queer person, as a woman—isn't important enough to bother with getting it right.