More Gay Characters on Television

The quality of prime-time programming may be depressing, but the broadcast networks are doing better at depicting the diversity of the American public.
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Singer Carly Rae Jepsen and songwriter Justin Tranter speak onstage during the 28th Annual GLAAD Media Awards in Beverly Hills, California, on April 1st, 2017.

Singer Carly Rae Jepsen and songwriter Justin Tranter speak onstage during the 28th Annual GLAAD Media Awards in Beverly Hills, California, on April 1st, 2017.

Earlier this month, a San Diego State University survey found that females represented 43 percent of characters on broadcast-network prime-time programming last season — the highest number in the survey’s 13-year history. Now, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) has announced that the overall number of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered characters on broadcast networks will more than double this coming season after a three-year slump.

In its annual “Where We Are On TV” report, GLAAD notes that 16 of the 616 characters on the networks’ 88 scripted comedies and dramas for the upcoming season are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered. That calculates to 2.6 percent of characters – a big increase from last season’s 1.1 percent.

The Fox network, which had no LGBT characters at the launch of last season, has five this year, making it the most inclusive network in percentage terms. CBS, in contrast, has no such characters on its current schedule.

In addition, the number of LGBT recurring characters (that is, those who appear periodically but not every week) has increased from 13 last season to 19. GLAAD President Neil Giuliano called this “another example of the networks’ progress towards being more inclusive. As the networks gradually add characters from all backgrounds and walks of life to prime time programming, more and more Americans are seeing their LGBT friends and neighbors reflected on the small screen.”

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