As I have mentioned before, I am partial to watching British police procedural shows on TV. They tend to eschew graphic violence and chases in favor of more genteel story telling. One of the most venerable of these shows is the series Midsomer Murders that has just released its 21st season. Over time, the series has developed a slightly campy, tongue-in-cheek feel because of the sheer implausibility of so many murders taking place in quaint little villages and rustic settings in one small English county. With each season, the way that the murders occur have become steadily more outlandish so that I now often laugh out loud when people have been killed in bizarre ways and their bodies are found in the most incongruous places. (In one episode a few seasons ago, the victim was a cricketer killed by the mechanical bowling machine used for practice that had been adjusted by the killer to rapidly fire high speed balls at his head.)
But what I want to note is how the people in the series have changed since it began in 1998. It was observed in 2011 that there was almost a total absence of people of color in the shows. When the show’s producer Brian True-May was asked about it, he replied that he did it deliberately because he wanted to show the villages as the ‘bastion of Englishness’ and that that was a major part of the show’s appeal. When asked if he meant the show should exclude ethnic minorities, he replied, “Well, it should do, and maybe I’m not politically correct.” Needless to say, this did not go down well and he was suspended, then apologized, then re-instated, but later left the show for good.
Starting in 2012, actors of color started showing up on the show and as time went on the numbers increased markedly. In fact, I noticed that in the latest season just ended some shows had almost every couple be of mixed ethnicity. It does not seem to have affected the series’s popularity as far as I can tell.
I think that most people who watch TV shows and films (apart from the stone-cold bigots) do not really care if they are seeing mixed-ethnicity or same-sex couples or anything else outside the spectrum of what used to be shown a couple of decades or more ago. If you have good writing, good acting, and good production values, all these other things simply do not matter.