Authentic Representation in Television 2018

Authentic Representation in Television 2018

The television industry is making progress in terms of representing characters with a disability more authentically, a white paper from the Ruderman Family Foundation finds. A follow-up to a 2017 report, the paper, Authentic Representation in Television 2018, examined nearly three hundred shows on thirty-seven networks and four streaming platforms and found that 55 percent of the shows on network television and 42 percent of those on streaming services included characters with disabilities. Of those characters, 21.6 percent overall, including forty-five out of two hundred and three characters on network TV shows and eleven out of fifty-six on streaming platform shows, were portrayed authentically by an actor with the same disability. But while the percentage of authentically cast characters with a disability for the top ten network TV shows increased from 5 percent in 2016 to 12 percent in 2018, the percentage for shows on streaming services fell from 17.6 percent to 12.5 percent. The study also found that more than half of all characters with disabilities in the sample had mental disabilities, a third had physical disabilities, and the rest had cognitive disabilities, but of the authentically cast characters only 16 percent had mental disabilities, while 71 percent had physical disabilities and 13 percent had intellectual disabilities. 

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