Mixed-race family sitting on couch and playing video games together.

See It, Be It: What Families Are Watching On TV – A Longitudinal Representation Study


The goal of this report is to reveal the status of inclusion and representation in scripted television in the U.S., and how it has evolved over the past 12 years. Entertainment media, like scripted television, profoundly shapes the minds of young people as well as social narratives. It influences how we perceive the world, how we see ourselves holding place in society, what we should value, what we should respect, what careers we may pursue, who gets to be the hero, and more.

Analyzing and measuring inclusion and representation in entertainment media contributes to eliminating unconscious bias that can reinforce negative behavior, prejudice, colorism, body shame, low self-esteem, and other harmful stereotypes. We hope this report inspires the creation of more equitable media content.

We partnered with Google Research to undertake this longitudinal representation study of the most popular scripted TV shows over the past 12 years. This study is pioneering in four meaningful ways:

  1. With Google Research’s machine learning innovations, we inferred human-centric signals at scale, including perceived gender expression, perceived age, perceived skin tone, and detecting visual speech.
  2. We extrapolated many intersectional patterns across the various human-centric signals.
  3. Leveraging technology, we were able to process a large volume of data: 440 hours of video viewing time in about 24 hours, as well as a total of about 12 million face tracks, which would have taken a significantly longer time and expense with human raters.
  4. With the speed of automation, we spanned the study over a large breadth of time, giving us historical trends across 12 years.
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