«Life After Orange» revolves around three characters who are a member of at least one minority. It’s one thing to represent minorities in TV shows in a large quantity but it’s a whole other story to portray them in an adequate and fair manner without making them stereotypical. This can be a very challenging task but there are some ways to ensure that you are portraying these characters in a non-stereotypical and fair way.
Shonda Rhimes, mastermind and creator of several highly successful TV shows such as Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal and Private Practice is famous for the inclusion of minority characters in her shows. While creating her first successful TV show, Grey’s Anatomy, Rhimes created her characters on one principle: the colorblind method. She created all of her characters without keeping a certain race in mind. She also consciously left out the character’s last name. That way, she made sure that the best actors and not the fitting race would get the part of the role. The colorblind method can, of course, be applied on any minorities such as LGBT/straight characters or female/male characters. So while creating a character, one should not keep a certain race, sexual orientation or even gender in mind but rather manufacture a human being with character traits that every person could have, no matter the race, sexual orientation, gender, religion, culture etc.
While the ‘Rhimes-Method’ encourages certain brain passiveness, this method forces the creator to keep certain character traits in mind to not use on the character development. For every minority there are stereotypical features we regularly notice on movies or TV shows that distinguish those minorities from the majority and force them to be just that – a minority. So when creating a minority character, one should determine the stereotypical character traits of the respective minority and make sure not to use them on the characters.
Both of these methods were applied in creating the characters of «Life After Orange» whereas the following stereotypical character traits or narratives of minorites weren’t used in the character development.
- Women’s lives revolve around love and men.
- Women are dependent on men and other people.
- Women are weak, sensitive and emotional.
- Bisexuality isn’t real and it can’t be taken seriously.
- Bisexuality is just a phase.
- Bisexual women can’t settle down.
- Latinos are passionate lovers and players.
- Latinos are lazy.
- Latinos are short-tempered.
Of course there are several methods one can use to create minority characters. However, independent from the method, one should always keep in mind to not view those characters as minorities but as part of the majority – the human kind.