As a writer and lover of fictional characters, I find myself thinking about diversity a lot. When I’m watching a TV show or reading a book, I tend to think about the diversity of the characters, and wonder if there is enough diversity or if the writers could have done more to represent different kinds of people. I gravitate towards shows that have more diversity. In my own writing, I create a lot of LGBT characters and characters of different cultures with different abilities and disabilities, because I think representation is important and I think that characters are more interesting when they are unique in a lot of ways.
I mostly focus on race, gender, sexuality, and appearance when I think about diversity. I probably focus on sexuality the most, seeking out shows, books, movies, and games with LGBT characters. The main reason I do this is probably because I’m bisexual, so I’m always looking for characters that represent myself and my community. Ever since I’ve known what shipping was, I started shipping male characters with other male characters or female characters with other female characters that aren’t canonically together. Some fans hate on other fans who do this, saying that we’re being ridiculous, but I don’t understand why. Shipping is harmless and doesn’t have to match the canon.
Another thing that people tend to criticize is when a show has “too much” diversity. People often accuse writers of pandering to liberal readers/viewers because they added an LGBT character or had an already known character come out. These characters are often called “token” characters. I think that a lot of the time when people accuse writers of writing in a token minority, the character they wrote in is actually well-written and important to the plot and therefore not a token character.
I have seen a few examples of characters that were added just for the sake of adding a minority. One episode of Once Upon a Time brought in Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz as a character and put her under a sleeping spell to be woken up by true love’s kiss. She received this kiss from Red Riding Hood, a.k.a. Ruby, a character who was somewhat prominent in the first season but rarely appeared by this point. The reasons that Dorothy was a token character are that she only appeared in this one episode, and her relationship with Ruby had almost no development. The next time the show introduced an LGBT character was 2 seasons later with Alice from Wonderland. She mentions a few times that she has had a girlfriend, but her main purpose in the plot has nothing to do with her sexuality, which is why she’s a better character.