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The greater reality of minorities on TV

February 16, 2009 |  6:09 pm

While scripted shows still largely reflect a white male society, the faces we see on reality shows are more diverse.

Realitytv_2The much-maligned world of reality television is winning praise these days for "keeping it real" in an unexpectedly relevant way -- reflecting a more diverse America than its more highbrow cousins in scripted prime-time shows.

Despite decades of public pressure on the major networks to diversify, the lead characters in all but a handful of prime-time scripted shows this season are still white -- and usually young and affluent. In contrast, reality programs consistently feature a much broader range of people when it comes to race, age, class and sexual orientation.

For example, CBS' "The Amazing Race" includes an Asian American brother-and-sister team and two African American sisters in its 14th season, which premiered Sunday. Three African Americans are in the current cast of CBS' " Survivor." Four African Americans and two Tongan Americans have been featured on the current season of NBC's "The Biggest Loser."

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-- Greg Braxton

Photo: Robert Voets / Associated Press