I'm writing for an animated series (does this still count as r/writing material?). Unlike a book (or maybe more alike than I know), I really can't afford to have more than just a few or so characters onscreen at a time for two main reasons: 1) It's a lot of work to maintain a growing cast of equally important characters on paper, and 2) I'm the only animator on my team (actually, I'm the only person on my team….) and animating just one character takes a busload of work!

I currently have five characters and I really like them and don't want to change much about them, which presents an issue. I'll briefly lay out the characters and some of their physical traits so you can decide if this team is diverse or not, but I'm having doubts for a few reasons I'll get to:

Denver (protagonist) is a female alien from a planet known as Prim. She is straight and cisgendered, and while she can't be defined by any race on planet Earth, she has tawny-red fur and curly hair. She's seven feet tall (the Primian species are always taller than humans, so on Prim this is normal height for a female). She has a curvy, fit figure but she is large and muscular. Think a deer-human hybrid, if you can imagine that.

Troy is a white American man. He is straight and cisgendered. He's a bit below average height for a man at 5'6''. He has an athletic build (he's a mail-carrier, but per the series spends a lot of time running for his life). Even though he is thirty-five, his twenties were ridden with severe stress that's turned his hair grey and he looks a bit older than he should.

Eli is from Earth, but his skin is tan (I'm not sure which race he is yet or his country, feel free to give me pointers!). He's asexual biromantic, cisgendered. He's 5'7''. He has an average build, maybe a little chubby.

Fabian has pale skin, but I'm currently deciding if he comes from a nation on Earth or if he's extraterrestrial. He's 6'0'' with an athletic build, and "hidden" muscles, if you understand what I mean by that.

Read:  Could this character work?

Connecticut is a 4th-generation white Martian (considering current efforts to start a Martian colony, I can definitely see this being a thing!). He is bisexual and cisgendered. He has an athletic build (like Troy and Fabian, his job involves lots of running from people who want to kill him), yet he's on the skinny side.

Kessler is a genderfluid talking android-head (take a sec if you need to). He's literally just that, unless I get into his personality, which turns things a bit irrelevant. "Sometimes he's a boy, sometimes she's a girl. Sometimes, they're just out of batteries." ~Eli, talking about Kessler

So, my biggest problem right now is the gender-imbalance. It's a 1:4 ratio! I need men in my story because one of Denver's character arcs is overcoming her irrational fear of the opposite sex, but I feel like I should at least have another girl on the team. Kessler might count, but I feel like "Look! Now she's a girl!" might seem like a cop-out as well as disingenuous to the genderfluid identity. Besides, Kessler is more comic relief than anything. I really don't want to change the genders of any of these characters, but I can't afford to add another character to the team (at least not now). There will definitely be other females encountered in the series, but none of them will be in the core cast. Is this a serious problem I need to work on fixing? Or am I just overthinking?

A little lower on the list is the lack of racial diversity. The light-skin to "other" ratio is 3:2, which doesn't look so bad, but I'm still concerned. I hoped that the diversity of origin would be greater than skin color (aliens to Earthlings are 3:2), but it's still worth asking. I don't want to come off as saying "They're aliens, so that counts as racial diversity!" With this in mind, I'm even more paranoid of people thinking that by making Denver have reddish-brown fur I'm comparing African-Americans to animals. I know, at this point you might be whipping out your 'Don't be afraid to offend!' card, and I'm not afraid to offend. I just want to avoid needless harm. Besides, where's the fun in offending people if they get offended by the wrong thing?

Read:  Showing long term isolation and suffering in first person retrospective

Finally, there's sexual diversity. That's not my greatest concern right now, as sexuality isn't explored until much later in the series, but you can never be too prepared! I think I scored pretty well on having sexually diverse characters, but what about gender? Most of my characters are cis. My goal definitely isn't to make this series 'The Most Disingenuously Diverse Series Ever!', so that's why I'm not sure if I should have a transgender character. I have nothing against transgender individuals. I may be one, turns out, and I'd love to see someone like me represented onscreen, which is why this decision is conflicting me. I want the representation, but I just feel like it might be too forced. The last thing I want to do is have a transgender character because I feel obliged to; forced characters (or worse, political-statements pretending to be characters) cause misery to all parties involved. I'm probably just asking these questions too early, or overthinking. Anyways, what do you think I should do?

Original post


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here