By Ryan Velez
Posted September 17th 2018
As just about anyone knows at this point, ABC’s Roseanne revival has been pulled following the titular star’s derogatory comments over Twitter. In the fallout of this, talking heads of every kind are extrapolating just about every thought from this story, from free speech to racial presences on television to double standards. One side effect is that a lot more people know who Channing Dungey is now. The first black president of ABC Entertainment, Dungey ultimately made the decision to pull the plug, but the Huffington Post reports how she has been pushing for a more inclusive TV landscape for a while now.
Ironically, Dungey, who got the job in February 2016, also had a role in approving the revival in the first place. A broader audience, in this case, meant more white, working-class-centered programming. The network’s shows had typically featured “well-to-do, well-educated people who are driving very nice cars,” she said at a Content Media summit in December 2016.
“There is definitely still room for that, and we absolutely want to continue to tell those stories because wish-fulfillment is a critical part of what we do as entertainers,” Dungey said at that event, according to The Wrap. “But in recent history, we haven’t paid enough attention to some of the true realities of what life is like for everyday Americans in our dramas.” She mentioned that the election results made her rethink ABC’s programming.
At the same time, though, Dungey has publicly spoken out about supporting diversity and empowering women. “When I think about the shows that we have on our air, we’ve been known for a long time, for shows that feature strong, dynamic, powerful women at their forefront,” Dungey said at a Television Critics Association press event in January. “And we’re going to continue with that kind of storytelling. I think that the more that we can show onscreen men and women working together side by side with respect for one another, I think that that’s a good message for us to be spreading.” She personally pushed for a black Bachelorette, and helped Shonda Rhimes develop Scandal and How To Get Away With Murder.
Even in the face of the Roseanne controversy, ABC’s plan seems to be paying off. An April poll showed that it was the most highly rated network among African-Americans, and over 80% of them had a positive opinion of the network.