HBO, MTV and ABC Family Earn Top Marks in LGBT TV Report

Looking Episode 4 Still - H 2014

Looking Episode 4 Still - H 2014

While three other networks get failing grades from GLAAD

GLAAD has released its annual report on LGBT representation in scripted TV — and HBO, ABC Family and MTV have come out on top. 

Each network has earned an "excellent" grade from the media advocacy group's Network Responsibility Index, which rates "the quality, diversity and relative quantity of LGBT representations in each network's original programming," according to a statement. That is the most networks to have simultaneously earned such a distinction in the study's eight-year history.

At the other end of the bell curve lie A&E, History and TNT, each of which was slapped with a failing grade. ABC, NBC, Fox, The CW, FX and Showtime scored "good" grades, while CBS, TLC and USA were deemed "adequate."

The accompanying Where We Are on TV report — a census that counts total LGBT characters on scripted TV — found that 32 out of 813 broadcast series regulars are LGBT. That's 3.9 percent of the total, up from 3.3 percent last year. (The record high was during the 2012-13 season, when 4.4 percent of characters were gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.) 

Among them, Fox had the highest percentage of LGBT characters with 6.5 percent. (Add to that list Detective Renee Montoya, played by Victoria Cartagena, from the high-profile new series, Gotham.) ABC came in second with 4.5 percent, while NBC and CBS rounded out third and fourth place with 3.8 and 3.2 percent, respectively. The CW has no regular LGBT characters in its current season.

Among other minority representation, 27 percent of 813 broadcast series regulars were found to be characters of color, while just 1.4 percent were living with physical disabilities. The percentage of female series regulars on broadcast TV has declined to 40 percent from 43 percent last year.

Cable boasts 64 regular LGBT characters, up from 42 last season. HBO has the most — 15, many of which come from its series Looking — while Showtime and ABC Family feature 13 each.

Streaming services like Netflix and Amazon, both of which have drawn plaudits for LGBT programming — and in particular for transgender characters on Orange is the New Black and Transparent — were praised, but not factored into the total character counts.

Explains GLAAD director of marketing Matt Kane, "It just came down to a matter of timing for this edition. We intend to either conduct more extensive research for a separate report or addendum in the next few months, or fully include them next year."

Promoting transgender visibility has become a key issue for GLAAD. If networks want to earn an excellent grade next year, they'll have to to include at least one transgender character.

The full report can be viewed here.