Once Shonda Rhimes’ tweet about the lack of diversity in the new ABC Family comedy “Bunheads” reverberated through the blogosphere, we knew it was only a matter of time before the show’s creator, Amy Sherman-Palladino, fired back. Unfortunately, her response is predictably evasive and indicting rather than constructive.

When asked about the series’ overwhelming whiteness, Sherman-Palladino told Media Mayhem host Allison Hope Weiner:

“Look, I’m not going to get into a pissing match with Shonda Rhimes because she has 15,000 shows on the air, and she’s doing just fine for herself. [But] I’ve always felt that women, in a general sense, have never supported other women the way they should…. I think it’s a shame, but to me, it is what it is. I wouldn’t do it. I wouldn’t go after another woman. I, frankly, wouldn’t go after another showrunner.”

Ah, that old chestnut about women sticking together, racial exclusion and bias be damned! We know it well. Rather than addressing Rhimes’ valid critique, Sherman-Palladino chastises her for betraying some sacred women’s code, citing the scarcity of women at the highest levels of TV production and how imprudent it is for them to publicly take each other to task.

While it might’ve been more effective for Rhimes to discuss her concerns with Sherman-Palladino directly, in a more private, controlled forum, it also would’ve been to Sherman-Palladino’s benefit to confront Rhimes’ assertion directly, particularly since her show is brand new and in dire need of more viewers (some of whom could, potentially, be women of color). My guess is that she had little interest in casting for diversity, despite the sense it would’ve made for ratings, for positive cultural messaging, and for the advocacy of increased exposure for women of color in ballet. But she was loathe to admit that and chagrined at even being called out on it. Eventually, she chalked it up to the show’s “small budget” and “demands.”

It’s a typical refrain. Historically, we’ve seen the feminist agenda fail to address the particular issues facing women of color. The problem persists even today. I guess it should be no surprise that Sherman-Palladino chose to confront this issue this way. Expecting a woman who’d write a show this racially homogeneous to have a legitimate reason for the whiteout (a reason that didn’t involve scolding Rhimes for her anti-feminist tack) is pretty unrealistic.

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  • arlette

    women like her are exactly the reason why i get annoyed when black and white women ask me why i am not and never will be a feminist.

  • Mimi

    I didn’t know making a sitcom was so gotd*mned easy.

  • Child, Please

    Soooo, am I the only one who watches Shonda Rhimes’ shows and can count on one hand how many black people there are in her shows? Hell, minorities period? While Shonda has top tierd shows on a major network, let’s not forget that the draws to these shows are primarily the non-black characters. I am curious as to why a woman with three shows and seemingly paved a way for us doesn’t hire a casting director to cast more qualified blacks. I love Grey’s Anatomy and was interested in Off The Map, but she really rubs me the wrong way with her criticism of shows who don’t have black people, when she seems to forget her shows wouldn’t be successful without the white leads on her show. Scandal is the lone exception considering it was marketed (as ABC did with The Frog Princess) as the first show in 30 years to have an black female lead on a major network. Otherwise, it’d be cancelled, too!

  • tia

    This isnt about being on some show or in some magazine

    But you know, I think some white women might be more racist than some white men. You look at credits and its white women casting these shows or they make the decision on who is in these magazines; Meanwhile, Black men are over represented, relative to their numbers in tv shows and i think its because white men are more open to them, or more willing to share in that way(maybe to seem less racist, but not white women).White women hide.

    Just a thought.