Representation Done Well

Shows with well-done representation

Over the past decade or so, representation in media has been a widely discussed topic. The ongoing discussion on how to properly do representation has also garnered a lot of attention. Communities like LGBTQ+ have seen a noticeable improvement in representation, especially over the past few years, with shows like ‘The Owl House’ having lead characters who are members of the LGBTQ+ community. While on the other hand, communities like the disabled or neurodivergent communities or the transgender/asexual/aromantic communities have still been seeking proper, well-done representation. There are many ways to properly represent a group of people, but not many writers, producers, or anyone in the place to do so are willing to look into proper ways to create representation.


Though this issue has greatly improved, there are a lot of characters that play or fall into stereotypical roles. This issue can be seen among many minorities. One example could be the “Femme Fatale”. This trope plays on the seductive woman using her abilities to get what she wants. This trope is then countered by the portrayal of innocent women who can’t do much on their own. The tropes may hold some place in reality, but the usage of them when trying to create a diverse cast is very counterproductive, especially if done too often.


One group of people who have seen greater representation over the past few years is the LGBTQ+ community. Shows like the “She-Ra” remake or “Carole & Tuesday” have created widely diverse casts while still creating natural environments. This is mostly due to the fact that the production team on shows like the “She-Ra” remake are composed of people who are actually in the communities they are trying to represent. But there has also been an ongoing problem with queerbaiting. Queerbaiting is fully developing the relationship between two characters who could be members of the LGBTQ+ community and using that relationship to draw in a larger range of viewers only to not develop the relationship in a proper way or possibly kill off someone in the pair. This usually leaves the queer audience confused or frustrated.


Even though there have been improvements when it comes to representation with the L, G, and B of LGBTQ+, there hasn’t been much done for the trans community. You often don’t see many transgender characters portrayed in modern media. It can also be somewhat hard to spot a trans character. A lot of the time the writers of a show have to state themselves that a character is transgender for the public to actually know. If not confirmed through the creators, a character’s gender identity could also be stated through the usage of a slur. There is a major problem with this being that only being able to identify a character as trans through the use of a word used to put down and oppress the community as a whole. There is also the lack of nonbinary representation (Which can fall under the transgender umbrella depending on how an individual may identify). A lot of the time, nonbinary characters tend to be robots rather than real people, this creates a feeling that nonbinary people always act and portray themselves in a neutral or odd way.


A lack of representation in media can also lead to a lack of overall understanding in the general public. This can cause many problems, especially now that the world depends on the media more than ever. A small example of this could be one of my personal coming-out experiences. I had come out to one of my friends as homosexual and I was accepted but not without the comment “Just don’t start liking me”. It may seem harmless but It feeds into the thought that anyone who isn’t straight isn’t normal. An example on a much larger scale is the current battle for trans youth rights. Laws and bills being passed in multiple states preventing trans youth from properly transitioning is extremely detrimental to the community as a whole. This combined with policies preventing trans youth from properly participating in activities like gendered sports can create a feeling of isolation, and this is also true for any community facing discrimination. 


Creating a cast of characters with traits that can properly represent or reflect a community or population starts with giving those people in the real world the exact same opportunities as everyone else. Asking members of communities struggling for equality for their personal experiences or doing enough research can also be a good start. Stations and companies need to be willing to air shows and movies with characters who clearly belong in minorities or marginalized groups. Having characters whose entire arcs don’t depend on their identities as minorities can also help. Unless the story is about a character struggling with their identity, just having a well-made character who can represent a group can help create a better understanding of different people. 


Having someone who you can see a little bit of yourself in can be an amazing feeling, especially if you’re confused about your identity or having trouble accepting yourself. Fighting for equal representation that doesn’t involve harmful stereotypes can create a more accepting environment for a lot of people. Overall, having a cast that can properly represent what any group of people is like can help everyone understand and accept each other more.