Many immediately noticed that the “best” of History was entirely white men, except for one brief shot of a woman from the Vikings scripted TV series. “Could you really not find any female presenters, historians or historical figures you could have featured in there? Or just not interested in trying?” one viewer wrote. “Unbelievable Sky, seriously! Wall to wall white guys,” another replied. I think my favorite response was this, from historian Sjoerd Levelt:
On both sides of the Atlantic, the History Channel targets an older white male audience, but rarely does such a channel make its preferences so obvious.
That said, it’s also telling that the rebranded channel will supplement a new Sky channel exclusively for documentaries, suggesting that Sky is more open about admitting that the History channel has nothing to do with high-quality nonfiction programming. Indeed, Sky and A+E say that the U.K. History channel’s ratings have spiked over the past year due to Curse of Oak Island and The UnXplained with William Shatner, according to a February press release. Therefore, it’s still all pawn shops, aliens, and reality shows for as far as the eye can see. A Sky official called them the programs their “customers … want to watch.”
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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