Number of Gay Characters on Broadcast TV Dips


LGBT characters on cable remains steady, according to a new report from watchdog group GLAAD.

The number of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered characters on broadcast television for the 2011-12 season has declined slightly, according to a new report from watchdog group GLAAD.

The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation’s 16th annual “Where We Are on TV” report has found that after significant gains during the 2010-11 primetime season, the overall number of LGBT characters on scripted television has dipped to 2.9 percent of scripted series regulars, down slightly from the 3.9 percent registered last year.

“While the number of LGBT characters is down, some of the most popular shows with critics and viewers such as Glee, True Blood and The Good Wife weave story lines about gay and lesbian characters into the fabric of the show,” GLAAD acting president Mike Thompson said in a statement announcing the news.

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“Whether it’s the growing household of Mitchell and Cameron [Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Eric Stonestreet] on Modern Family or the recent wedding of Callie and Arizona [Sara Ramirez and Jessica Capshaw] on Grey’s Anatomy, Americans expect to see the diversity of our country represented in their favorite programs and that includes gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people,” he added.

Fox, which broadcasts GLAAD comedy series co-winner Glee, ranked as the most inclusive broadcast network, with 6.8 percent of regular characters being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, marking a massive improvement from the group’s 2007 report which failed to find one LGBT series regular on the network. The 2011-12 report marked the first time ABC was not in the lead for six years. NBC ranked third, followed by the CW and CBS.

On the cable side, the figures effectively stayed the same with the number of announced LGBT series regulars dipping to 28 but the number of recurring characters rising to 54, even with last year.

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HBO topped the cablers with 11 LGBT characters, seven of which are series regulars, followed by Showtime (10), ABC, FX and TeenNick (four each) followed by TNT and BBC America (three each).

HBO’s True Blood and Showtime’s Shameless scored as the most LGBT inclusive series on cable with six characters on each drama.

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GLAAD reviewed 91 scripted TV series scheduled to air this upcoming season on ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC and the CW and counted a total of 647 series regulars, 19 of which are LGBT, with 14 recurring on primetime. The research serves as a benchmark for GLAAD’s advocacy efforts, which call for fair, accurate and diverse LGBT representations across media platforms.

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