When it was announced The Walking Dead was coming to screens, people expected many things (blood, guts, violence...), but I think it's fair to say that no one expect it, or its companion series Fear the Walking Dead, to become two of the most racially diverse shows on television.
With recent instances of Hollywood whitewashing, it sadly seems like the industry still has a long way to go in terms of casting a more diverse range of actors in projects. However, it's encouraging to know that despite the film industry's failings, on the television side of things the most popular show on cable TV is doing its part to contribute a wider range of faces on the box.
Let's take a closer look at the casts of both The Walking Dead and Fear the Walking Dead, and see how the spread of races and ethnicities in the shows stakes up against the real life breakdown of races and ethnicities in the United States.
The Walking Dead
Despite some claims of The Walking Dead appearing to have a black, male quota a few years ago, these days the series has pushed past that to present a wide range of races and ethnicities in the series.
Alongside the white American faces, the series currently has two black women with Michonne and Sasha Williams, as well as four black men in Morgan Jones, Father Gabriel Stokes, Heath and Scott. What's more is that in addition to black Americans being represented in the series, we also have a Korean American character, Glenn Rhee (who has been a mainstay since Season 1), and Hispanic American character Rosita Espinosa.
Considering the race and ethnicity breakdown in the US, The Walking Dead is fairly representative. The 2010 census revealed that 72.4 percent of the US is made up of white Americans, while 12.6 percent identified as black American, and 4.8 percent as Asian American. Meanwhile, if you take the 31 characters with the most appearances in Season 6, you end up with a breakdown of 77.4 percent white, 19.3 percent black, 3.2 percent Asian — pretty close, right?
Interestingly though, while 15.1 percent of the US population is Hispanic/Latino, the only Hispanic character in The Walking Dead is Rosita.
Please note: The US Census Bureau does not include Hispanic in the breakdown of races and ethnicities. This because their definition of Hispanic or Latino "refers to a person of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin regardless of race." This means a Hispanic/Latino person may be of any race or ethnic group (white, black, Asian, etc.). I included Rosita as a White-American in the overall breakdown above. See here for more information.
Fear the Walking Dead
Just like The Walking Dead, its companion series Fear the Walking Dead also has a wide range of ethnicities and races, despite a much smaller cast.
There are currently five white Americans in Fear, with Nick, Alicia and Madison Clark and Ofelia and Daniel Salazar. Ofelia and Daniel Salazar also bring the Hispanic/Latino tally to two, while Strand is the sole black American. Interestingly, the show also has a Pacific Island American character in Travis Manawa (who is of Maori decent), which means that his son, Chris, is a Pacific Islander Hispanic (his mother, Liza, was white Hispanic). Though she is yet to be seen on screen, the character Charlie (who first appeared in mini series Fear the Walking Dead: Flight 462) will soon join the cast as the sole Asian American.
When we get into the comparisons between the race and ethnicity of America and the race and ethnicity of Fear the Walking Dead, it's even more fascinating. While 72.4 percent of Americans are white Americas, that percentage is just 55.55 in Fear. Likewise, there is just one black character, making 11.11 percent of the characters in the show black, versus the 12.6 percent in real life. Asian Americans make up 4.8 percent of America, while the one Asian American character in Fear will make up 11.1 percent of the characters. The most interesting factor to me is that while 22.22 percent of the characters in Fear the Walking Dead are Pacific Islander American, in the 2010 census Pacific Islander Americans made up just 0.2 percent of the population.
Unlike its companion series, Fear the Walking Dead is much more representative of Hispanics/Latinos in America. Daniel and Ofelia Salazar (who are Salvadoran-Americans) and Chris Manawa (who is Latino-American) make up 33.33 percent of the characters — well above the actual percentage in America, which is 15.1 percent.
So, all in all it's pretty interesting to examine the characters of the Walking Dead universe. While there are some differences and possible places for improvement, overall it's pretty interesting to learn that a show that takes place during a very fictional zombie apocalypse has such a realistic spread of characters. I can only hope it's a trend that we see more and more TV series pick up on in the future.
Who is your favorite character in The Walking Dead universe?
Please note that any abusive, inflammatory comments will be taken down. Please think before you write.