Netflix has a diversity problem. But it’s not the one you’re thinking of.

April 28, 2019

As an avid Netflix viewer I’ve found, whilst watching their originals, that they have really taken to making their characters more diverse, but in that they have made a stereotype of their own or an expected character in the originals I’ve seen so far.

That character is the token gay, black best friend. 

To show that I’m not pulling this out of thin air, I was watching their latest release ‘The Perfect Date’ and I felt a buzz of déjà vu as we find out that Noah Centineo’s character Brooks has a gay, black best friend and at first I thought it was Noah causing me déjà vu from To All The Boys, which came out during summer last year, but no, it was the main character having a gay, black best friend. Like Lara Jean in to all the boys having Lucas, and in Netflix’s Sex Education, Otis having Eric as his gay best friend.

Don’t get me wrong, I like shows having a diverse cast, but what I don’t like is when a diverse characters’ diversity is their personality. Almost like being a stereotype or having to bring up their race or sexuality at every point instead of just letting them be. 

I can say that in some shows they do let them be and give them a personality outside of this, like in Riverdale they have the sheriffs son Kevin, who isn’t just the gay best friend even if that’s how he is initially brought into the story, but as the show progressed we got to see the problems he deals with, his relationship with his dad, his struggles finding a footing in the world but succeeding anyway. I liked that he was given a story rather than just being there when the other characters needed a gossip session with him.

Back to the thing that sparked me onto this, the gay and or black best friend. We don’t really see Asians being portrayed the same way, or Latinas or even Caucasians. It recently seems to be the young black male playing the token black friend to the main who is also very outwardly gay. Other races, when they are shown to be on the LGBTQ spectrum tend to be closeted for a portion of the movie, their coming out being their character arch. And all I’m asking Netflix for is a character, not a trope. Yes you can have your gay and or black best friend character but I want to see some depth with them, not just them being loud and funny, but give them a story or some background – I’m talking about King Bach’s character  in to all the boys at this specific point as he served no point in that movie but to crack loud one liners.

Outside of sexuality I find Netflix adding diverse characters where they weren’t to begin with as much as an issue. It seems a bit J.K Rowling to me, backtracking and adding diversity for diversity sake. This point stems from, again, To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before and how after the success of the first movie Netflix has decided to recast a character they showed at the end of the first movie as a little Easter egg/ movie set up, this character being a blonde Caucasian man, to a black man. Let me tell you this, in the book his physical features are mentioned extensively like his hair being just as blonde as the main character remembers and since we have already seen what the character had initially been meant to look like, I think this is an obvious diversity push.

Keep in mind this is all my opinion and you may disagree but I do think some things don’t need a fully diverse cast or if they are going to have one the actors chosen to add diversity should be given a role not a stereotype.

Thank you for reading, share your opinions in the comments, but thats all for now.

~Terry xx


  1. You have really got me thinking about this. Shamefully I had never really though about this before but you're completely right.

    Thank you so much for writing and sharing this with me!

    - Nyxie

  2. It is interesting that you brought up diversity with Netflix. Even though they are trying to be more inclusive, there are more steps ahead of them.

    Nancy ♥


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