How We Grade
The Mediaversity grade does NOT just reflect the technical aspects of a show or film. Cinematography, writing, soundtrack, editing? That’s what every other review site is for. Instead, Mediaversity examines the social context surrounding a program and grades how inclusive it is. In fact, something can be a critically acclaimed but if it isn’t inclusive, it will score low at Mediaversity. And if that bothers you, you’re probably in the wrong place.
Our scoring system prioritizes intersectionality. While deep, social impact for specific groups is crucial in the ongoing fight for onscreen (and behind-the-lens) representation, culture blogs are already fantastic sources for those types of discussions. Instead, Mediaversity takes the macro view and measures how well a TV show or film presents different and overlapping identities.
To give context, we list the gender, ethnicity, nationality, and LGBTQ status of show/film creators and reviewers alike.
👩 = Female
👩👨 = Non-binary or Agender
👨 = Male
👩🏾👨🏾 = Black
👩🏽👨🏽 = Latinx, South Asian, Native, or Mixed
👩🏻👨🏻 = East Asian, Southeast Asian, or Mixed
👩🏼👨🏼 = White
🌈 = LGBTQ (publicly)
To assign a grade, we add up the category scores, add or deduct bonus points if applicable, then divide by the number of categories—4 for TV shows, 3 for films. No grade inflation here; a C is average, a B is good, and As are only for the outstanding.
A+ (5.0+) — Breaking ground in media representation and generally just kicking ass.
A (4.70 - 4.99) — Inclusive AF and damned well-made.
A- (4.50 - 4.69) — Inclusive AF.
B+ (4.20 - 4.49) — Nailed it, just maybe not in all categories.
B (4.00 - 4.19) — Great job, just maybe not in all categories.
B- (3.60 - 3.99) — All we ask is that you try, and try you did.
C+ (3.40 - 3.59) — Chilling in that inoffensive groove.
C (3.20 - 3.39) — Diversity was not a priority.
C- (2.60 - 3.19) — I spy missteps.
D (2.00 - 2.59) — These creators don't see race.
F (1.00 - 1.99) — How was this greenlit?
Read on to see how we score each category.
We include technical merit into the Mediaversity score because complex characters, fresh narratives, and compelling art direction are inextricable from diverse storytelling. You can't be super diverse if all your characters are flat, and on the flipside—a TV show or movie shouldn’t be considered great if it’s rehashing old territory or its casting is tone-deaf.
5/5 - Amazing work that’s perfectly paced, with gorgeous cinematography, great dialogue, etc.
4/5 - Good work that’s well-paced with decent dialogue, cinematography, etc.
3/5 - Enjoyable work but largely forgettable
2/5 - Not a great work, clunky pacing or clichéd dialogue
1/5 - Awful work that feels like it was made by an amateur
We consider the numbers, depth, and positivity of female characters. Behind-the-lens representation is considered as well. Specifically:
5/5 - Easily passes the Bechdel Test and the work is centered from a female perspective. Women are the lead protagonists, their characters are complex, and they do not fall into stereotypes
4/5 - Mostly passes the Bechdel Test and women get important roles, backstories, and generally do not fall into stereotypes
3/5 - Technically passes the Bechdel Test, women are only in supporting roles, they have thin backstories, and they may slip into stereotypes
2/5 - Probably fails the Bechdel Test and women are flat characters in minor, stereotypical roles
1/5 - This work is a sausage-fest and when women do exist, they’re offensive stereotypes
We consider the numbers, depth, and positivity of characters of color. Behind-the-lens representation is considered as well. Specifically:
5/5 - This work is centered from a non-white perspective. People of color (POC) are the lead protagonists, their characters are complex, and they do not fall into stereotypes
4/5 - POC get important roles, backstories, and generally do not fall into stereotypes
3/5 - POC are only in supporting roles, they have thin backstories, and they may slip into stereotypes
2/5 - POC are flat characters in minor, stereotypical roles
1/5 - This work is white AF and if any POC do exist, they’re offensive stereotypes
This category is scored for TV shows only. For films, representation of LGBTQ is factored in through bonus or deduction points. But across TV and films, we consider the numbers, depth, and positivity of queer characters. Behind-the-lens representation is considered as well. Specifically:
5/5 - LGBTQ and their relationships are at the center of this show. Their characters are complex and they do not fall into stereotypes
4/5 - LGBTQ get important or supporting roles, backstories, and generally do not fall into stereotypes
3.5/5 - No show can score higher than 3.5 unless it includes at least 1 speaking role that is LGBTQ
3/5 - LGBTQ are only in minor roles, they have thin backstories, and they may slip into stereotypes
2/5 - LGBTQ are non-existent or flat characters in minor, stereotypical roles
1/5 - This show is cisgender and straight AF and if any LGBTQ do exist, they’re offensive stereotypes
Any media that sheds light on an underrepresented group will score points at Mediaversity. Meanwhile, stereotypes will get deductions.
Themes that may score bonus points or deductions include representation of LGBTQ, disability, seniors, religion, or body diversity.
Our mission is to diversify popular media, both onscreen and offscreen. While no story will ever be an exact microcosm of the United States—nor should it be—our reviews strive to be a resource for people who want to think pro-actively about the media they're watching instead of passively consuming it.
So when we say “diversify”, what does that mean? Let’s look to the real world for pointers:
51% of U.S. residents are women
39% of U.S. residents are people of color
26% of U.S. adults (18+) live with a physical or cognitive disability
5% of U.S. adults (18+) identify as LGBTQ
Until the TV and film industries reflect the true face of our country, Mediaversity will be here calling them out and applauding good work.
Mediaversity is the passion project of Li Lai, a visual designer and data nerd based in New York City. She is sick of randos on the street calling her a ninja and wants television and film to become the first line of defense against stereotyping.
Li is a Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic and has been featured in Variety, The Verge, CBC Radio, Chicago Tribune, and other outlets. She has also spoken at venues such as Adweek Europe or with the Women's Impact Network of the Producers Guild of America.
👩🏾🇺🇸 Joi Childs is a brand marketer, freelance writer, and sarcasm enthusiast. Born and Raised in NYC, she loves writing and talking about the intersection of marketing and nerd life. Her work has appeared at The Hollywood Reporter, The Verge, Okayplayer, and many other outlets. Follow her on social media to keep up with her great adventures in cinema and more.
👨🏾🇺🇸 Robert Daniels is a film critic and founder of 812filmreviews. His writing has been featured in RogerEbert.com, The Spool, and ThatShelf, and he is especially drawn to divisive movies (because he craves conflict).
👩🏽🇺🇸🌈 Ruksana Faraon writes film reviews, media crit, and weird fiction. She loves bright colors, worldbuilding, punchy dialogue, trees, cold weather, warm people, and stories about queer women.
👩🏾🇺🇸 Monique Jones is an entertainment journalist, blogger, and founder of JUST ADD COLOR, a multicultural pop culture site. Her writing has been featured on Ebony.com, Comic Book Resources, Entertainment Weekly's Community Blog, The Miami New Times, and more.
👩🏼🇺🇸 Dana Sloane is a fangirl and research scientist who started studying media representation after a graduate school paper advocating to make the Bechdel Test a network standard spun out of control. She collects DVD box sets of TV shows in the hopes that it will prove useful in the zombie apocalypse.
👩🏻🇺🇸 Mirelle Tinker is currently studying television, writing, and international business at Ithaca College. She has written for the Tempest and Darling Media.
👩🏻🇺🇸 Mimi Wong has worked in film and television. She also writes fiction, and is especially passionate about reading and supporting diverse authors.
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