The Walking Dead earns recognition for gender equality on and off screen

Danai Gurira as Michonne - The Walking Dead _ Season 10, Episode 4 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC
Danai Gurira as Michonne - The Walking Dead _ Season 10, Episode 4 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC /

The Walking Dead is one of 33 shows to earn a ReFrame stamp signifying the show has achieved gender-balanced hiring both on- and off-camera.

The Walking Dead has always been a leader in genre TV when it comes to diversity in casting, but now it has earned a prestigious ReFrame stamp in recognition of its gender balance in hiring women for roles both on-camera and behind the scenes.

There were 33 shows that were given stamps by ReFrame, a group of entertainment industry professionals that tracks the hiring of women for both acting and behind the scenes roles in film and TV. According to The Hollywood Reporter this year there was a significant 57% increase in the number of shows that earned a ReFrame stamp.

In order to earn a stamp from ReFrame shows must earn a set number of points in at least four categories. Points are given when shows hire female-identifying people in four out of the eight established categories:

·         Writer

·         Director

·         Showrunner

·         Producer

·         Lead

·         Season Regulars

·         Department Heads

·         Crew

Shows are awarded extra points for hiring women of color in key roles. The Walking Dead isn’t the only genre show that earned a ReFrame stamp list this year, but among the genre shows on the list it has the strongest representation with showrunner Angela Kang, executive producers Denise Huth and Gale Anne Hurd, and a revolving squad of female directors and writers.

On-screen actresses like Danai Gurira, Melissa McBride, Christian Serratos, Lauren Ridloff, Angel Theory, Eleanor Matsuura, Nadia Hilker, and newcomer Paola Lazaro are showing that women can absolutely carry genre shows and that female narrative arcs don’t have to relegate women to supporting male characters.

This isn’t the first ReFrame stamp for The Walking Dead either. The show has an ongoing commitment to gender balance and improving representation for women and marginalized groups. TWD also received a stamp for season 9, which is the first season that had Kang at the helm.

Women In Genre TV

Genre TV, which has taken a lot of criticism for years of only having cis white men in positions of power, more actively promoting diversity in front of and behind the camera. Of the 33 shows that won ReFrame stamps this year a large number of them are genre shows including:

·         Altered Carbon

·         American Horror Story

·         Batwoman

·         The Handmaid’s Tale 

·         Jessica Jones

·         Killing Eve

·         The 100

·         Orange Is the New Black 

·         Star Trek: Picard

·         13 Reasons Why 

·         Watchmen 

·         Westworld 

And of course, The Walking Dead.

The Larger Walking Dead Universe

It’s interesting to note that TWD spinoff Fear The Walking Dead, which is about to enter its sixth season, didn’t get a ReFrame stamp. Fear TWD does have strong female recurring characters like fan-favorite Alycia Debnam-Carey, as well as  Danay Garcia, Maggie Grace, Mo Collins, Karen David, Jenna Elfman, and Alexa Nisenson. But it still hasn’t managed to score enough points to earn a ReFrame stamp in the previous 5 seasons. Will season 6 be different?

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It will be interesting to see how the latest TWD spinoff, TWD World Beyond, measures up in terms of both diversity and gender equality when it premieres in early October. It will also be interesting to see if The Walking Dead can continue to lead the way in genre TV when it comes to gender balance and diversity during the 30 episodes that the show has left before it ends. When TWD does end it will leave behind a legacy of inclusion and diversity that raised the bar for genre TV.

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The Walking Dead season 10 finale will air on AMC on October 4th, followed by the premiere of TWD World Beyond. Follow us on Twitter: @SonyaIryna and @CulturessFS for more TWD universe news, live tweeting, and more.