Netflix Continues to Exclude Diverse Groups of People

In the midst of the events unfolding in the United States and globally, regarding systemic racism and the brutal deaths of many in the black community, diversity and inclusion have become at the forefront of many topics of discussion. There is an emphasis to include these discussions in larger organizations today. Netflix, one of the most popular American television and media providers, recently announced the cancellation of many shows, including fan favorites like I Am Not Okay With This and The Society. These shows represent the struggles one goes through during relationships, understanding their sexuality and the hardships they face in their community, which helps the viewer relate and connect with the show even more so. Especially during this time, it is of utmost importance to broadcast such shows because of one main reason: representation matters.

Despite the news of the cancellation, fans could not help but notice  that many of the canceled shows had a diverse cast featuring people of colour, and members of the LGBTQ+ community.

The series I Am Not Okay With This follows a troubled seventeen-year-old girl, Sydney Novak, who is forced to navigate through an extremely unusual adolescence, burdened by superpowers and identity crises. Sydney Novak struggles with her sexuality throughout the show, having a deep connection with her close friend, Stanely Barber and while simultaneously developing feelings for her best friend, Dina. Despite being a very picky person, I absolutely loved this show. While being thrilling, and having heartfelt moments throughout the show, I enjoyed every single second of it and wished there would be more. Not only is this an amazing series, but it dealt with real problems and helped me connect with the characters. Teenagers often struggle with their sexuality, and this show perfectly represents what a real teenager may go through during their journey.

The Society is another Netflixseries that follows a group of high school students that are heading on an extended camping trip. However, due to a storm, they are forced to go back home and upon their return, they noticed that all the adults in their town had mysteriously disappeared. In The Society, one of the characters, Grizz developed a crush on his friend Sam, but stayed away due to the fear of coming out. Therefore, struggling with his sexuality as well. Despite the hardships they faced in the series, they promised that they would see each other at the end; no matter what happens. This plays such an important role in today’s society since teenagers often have a hard time and are afraid of coming out. People keep thinking about what others are going to see them as now and are scared that they would be rejected and treated like outcasts by their family, friends or loved ones.

Around the same time of the cancellations, Netflix announced the renewal of several other television shows and movies, which got me and fans thinking why they could not renew these captivating and fascinating shows as well. Right after the sequel to Netflix’s famous romantic movie, The Kissing Booth was released, news came out that it was already in production for a third film. The Kissing Booth 2 follows the main character Elle Evans—who is a senior—and how she deals with her boyfriend, Noah Flynn going away for his first year of college. Although this movie is lighthearted and very heartfelt, it is very unrealistic. Furthermore, no matter how you try to view their relationship, it comes off as very toxic and hostile. In the first movie, Elle was sexually harassed for wearing a short skirt and in the following conversation, Noah told Elle that she was “asking for it.” He also went around the school telling all the boys to not date her. I was severely disappointed after watching the movie since few things barely made sense including how Elle got into both Harvard and Berkely, when they did not really show her doing anything for it, except entering an arcade dance contest. If Netflix can renew such movies, why cannot they renew series’ that inspire the audience and help them with their own problems as well?

Diversity and inclusion need to be more than just a token commitment we as today’s youth need to put at the forefront of industries, corporations, organizations and television. To those of you wondering, what impact would having a diverse group of people behind a TV show or a movie have? You would find this answer in communities that are represented through these shows where self confidence, courage, bravery and inspiration are instilled after they watch someone who looks like them on screen. Diverse points of views and the inculcation of different cultures that bring these shows to life, have a tremendous impact in strengthening communities and bringing diversity at the forefront. 

Is it not the point of television to take you to another reality? A place which is similar to our world but also transports us to immerse ourselves in the experiences of the characters. Platforms and us as individuals have a social responsibility in today’s day and age to uplift and amplify the voices of communities. Why is it important for Netflix and movies to have people from diverse backgrounds? It is because representation matters, both on screen and off screen.