- Share this article on Facebook
- Share this article on Twitter
- Share this article on Email
- Show additional share options
- Share this article on Print
- Share this article on Comment
- Share this article on Whatsapp
- Share this article on Linkedin
- Share this article on Reddit
- Share this article on Pinit
- Share this article on Tumblr
The small screen is now reflecting a record number of LGBTQ characters on primetime.
Media watchdog group GLAAD has released the findings of its 17th annual report, Where We Are On TV, which analyzes the overall diversity of primetime scripted series regular characters on broadcast networks while also tracking the number of LGBTQ regular and recurring characters on primetime scripted cable programming and original scripted series on major streaming services. The report reflects characters tracked from June 1, 2021, to May 31, 2022.
Of the 775 series regular characters set to appear on primetime programming for the 2021-2022 season, 92 characters, or 11.9 percent, are LGBTQ. That marks an increase of 2.8 percent from the previous year and sets a new record. Furthermore, there are an additional 49 recurring characters for a total of 141 LGBTQ characters on broadcast. The CW comes in first with 17.1 percent followed by Fox (13.3 percent), ABC (12.5 percent), NBC (7.2 percent) and CBS (6.6 percent).
Lesbian characters represent the majority with 56 characters or 40 percent, and that marks an increase of six percent over last year. Gay men dipped slightly, representing 49 characters, or 35 percent, down five percent. Bisexual representation tracks with 27 characters, or 19 percent, a modest increase of one percent. Some of the new series that feature lesbian characters this season include Queens, NCIS: Hawai’i, Pivoting, Our Kind of People and Law & Order: Organized Crime.
For a fourth straight year, LGBTQ people of color represent the majority with 58 percent on broadcast. Cable, however, decreased to 45 percent in the category while streaming increased to 49 percent. GLAAD has called on all platforms to meet inclusivity guidelines for which at least half of all LGBTQ characters are people of color. Some of the new series that feature LGBTQ characters of color are 4400, Naomi, Promised Land, Queens, and Ordinary Joe.
To catch the expanding Hollywood streaming universe, GLAAD, which previously analyzed data from Amazon, Hulu and Netflix, is also now looking at Apple TV+, Disney+, HBO Max, Peacock and Paramount+, finding that there is far more representation on streaming than broadcast. Of the original scripted programming on those eight platforms, GLAAD reports 245 LGBTQ series regulars and 113 LGBTQ recurring roles, bringing the total to 358.
On scripted primetime cable series, the number of characters increased from 81 to 87. Recurring LGBTQ representation has also jumped, going from 37 to 51 characters. This brings the overall count to a total of 138 regular and recurring LGBTQ characters expected, up 20 characters from last year. But the total is down from two years ago when there were 215 characters reported on primetime cable. Together, Showtime, Freeform and FX represent nearly half of all LGBTQ regular and recurring characters on all of primetime scripted cable with Showtime labeled as “most LGBTQ inclusive cable network.” It counts 35 LGBTQ characters, regular or recurring, appearing on such series as Yellowjackets, The L Word: Generation Q, American Rust, Billions, Dexter: New Blood and The End.
In another sign of a more inclusive TV landscape, there are more transgender regular and recurring characters on the small screen with 42 across all three platforms (broadcast, cable and streaming), up from last’ year’s count of 29. Of the 42, 20 characters are trans women, 14 are trans men and eight are nonbinary trans characters. There are an additional 17 characters who identify as nonbinary and not trans.
Where We Are On TV also tracks the number of characters who are living with HIV. This year’s report cites two recurring characters — Michael in Netflix’s Dear White People and Sai in NBC’s Ordinary Joe — down from three last year, all of whom were featured on FX’s Pose.
“The growing state of LGBTQ representation on television is a signal that Hollywood is truly starting to recognize the power of telling LGBTQ stories that audiences around the world connect with,” said GLAAD president and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. “At a time when anti-LGBTQ legislation and violence continues to increase, it is cultural institutions like television that take on the crucial role of changing hearts and minds through diverse and inclusive storytelling. Networks and platforms must continue to prioritize telling LGBTQ stories that have been long overlooked, with a specific focus on the trans community, LGBTQ people of color, people living with HIV, and LGBTQ people with disabilities.”
Megan Townsend, GLAAD’s director of entertainment research and analysis, called this year’s increases “exciting” especially after the previous year’s report included several decreases in specific categories. “However, we continue to see that LGBTQ inclusion is often found in clusters from a concentrated number of creatives and networks who have prioritized telling our stories. Just three cable networks account for close to half of all LGBTQ inclusion on cable, and 8.5 percent of LGBTQ characters across all platforms tracked appear on shows tied to just four producers,” Townsend added. “As the LGBTQ community continues to quickly grow and drive buzz as heavy users of social platforms — and as there is more competition for audience’s attention and money than ever — it is clear that investing in telling nuanced, diverse LGBTQ stories and proactively marketing those programs can only benefit the network’s bottom line and positive perception.”
The full report can be found here.
8:30 a.m., Feb. 17: Updated to remove series Ghost.
Sign up for THR news straight to your inbox every day