These are not token characters. They are main characters, that are stereotypes. My point is that most comedy characters are, which is why I find Friends overall more unnecessarily white than Community. To take one of the most diverse shows on TV right now (I think maybe Grey's anatomy is more diverse, not sure what else) and somehow say it is equivalent to the absence of non white characters on TV as a whole seems absurd on its face.
I think the key idea here is that you don't want to exclude minority characters from fictional entertainment but you also have to allow these minority characters to develop in a way that feels natural and isn't there solely for the sake of being the token minority. Having a token minority solely for the sake of political correctness rather than for the sake of the storyline can be almost as annoying as not including any minorities at all. I keep thinking here of the American version of Being Human where the Sci-Fi Channel gave the werewolf character a lesbian sister for no apparent reason other than to have a token lesbian on the show. Yet all throughout the first season you almost never see the lesbian sister do anything remotely lesbianish and her girlfriend barely says or does anything when she appears and the only way you would know she's a lesbian is because she keeps saying "I'm a lesbian!" practically every scene she's in. While the gesture is nice, it's just kind of annoying she serves no purpose other than to be a token.
While I sympathize with that, I would like to play devil's advocate a little. If they have a character that rarely appears, but then shows up with her girlfriend and nothing is made of the fact, then how is that different from having a background character just show up in the background with her boyfriend? If, on the other hand, they are trying to get "cred" by having a lesbian character who is nothing but background noise, then I agree. In other words, if they are trying to both make her sexual orientation a plot point and ignore her, then I see why that is unappealing as a viewer. But if she's just in the background, then she can be gay or straight, it's the same.
So, how do you go about deciding the primary influences of a show's diversity, or lack there of?
Is Game of Thrones mostly white because it draws so heavily from Medieval Europe, or because of racism?
Does The League's all-white (and mostly male) main character list exemplify white-male-centric culture, or were they chosen simply based on their personalities and abilities jibing with the writing?
Why did J.K. Rowling write a white male as the lead in Harry Potter--because she was influenced by male-dominated culture, because she thought people wouldn't be as interested in the same story with a female lead, or because that's simply how she imagined the character?
The futility of asking these questions is obvious as soon as you leave the realm of generalizations and enter the world of specific, real-life examples. Any of my hypothesized reasons could be true, or none of them. For most of these type questions, a mixture of reasons is probably more accurate, with some being stronger influences than others. The exercise is ridiculous.
This is applicable to any pattern in any context. So do you advocate for never talking about any patterns? Yes, Game of Thrones is about white people. The question is why can Game of Thrones be a success, but a similar story about, say, the Malian empire would be considered for black audiences only. And whether encouraging writers to write characters that are neutral in every way and don't *need* to be of a certain ethnicity as non white is trampling on their creative rights. Look at Friends, which is a great example. Why did that group *need* to be all white? It was wholly unnecessary. But casting calls are made for characters that are similarly neutral all the time, and they specify that actors should be white. There must be awesome acting talent that is totally untapped right now, because who would want to act and grow up to be the token Asian in a play? More importantly, not discussing things is the best way of not changing things. Race is not going to go away by pretending it's not there. No problem in the history of mankind has.