TV Network Growth Hack: Cast Beautiful Diverse Actors

Recently, the CW has used diverse heartthrobs to build its network, but it was actually Fox that pioneered this smart growth hack in the 80s with Johnny Depp and Holly Robinson.

As you know, the CW is scoring major points by casting diverse young adults – who happen to resemble Abercrombie models (take Arrow, The Flash, and Supergirl as a few examples). Any excuse to depict diverse young adults in love triangles is commercially lucrative and has mass appeal in the modern TV economy. It is a reflection of millennial culture. And, yes, millennial’s still watch a lot of TV (live and streaming).

Merced Brooks and Melissa Marie Benoit of The CW's Supergirl

Merced Brooks and Melissa Marie Benoit of The CW’s Supergirl


But, the CW wasn’t the first TV network to successfully use this strategy. The Fox Network was the first to employ this variety of growth hack throughout the 80s and the 90s.

For example, you might know Johnny Depp only as Captain Jack Sparrow, or Amber Heard’s long-term partner, but Depp got his first big break carrying the Fox Network on this back in the American police drama 21 Jump Street.

The series focused on a crew of undercover police officers investigating crimes in high schools, colleges, and other places full of good-looking teenagers. In the series, Depp’s character – and his supporting cast – were recruited as undercover narcotics officers, mainly because their youthful good looks helped them all blend in with the teenagers they were investigating.

The series was highly successful, with 5 seasons from 1987-1991. It was also a pioneer in diverse casting, starring Holly Robinson Peete and Dustin Nyguyn. This casting model appealed to a broad audience based, and helped to solidify Fox’s position as a credible network for original programming.

Holly Robinson Peete, Dustin Nyguyn, Johnny Depp of 21 Jump Street

Holly Robinson Peete, Dustin Nyguyn, and Johnny Depp of 21 Jump Street


Check out the opening credits to 21 Jumpstreet below.  You can stream 21 Jump Street on Hulu.

21 Jumpstreet Opening Credits