Today marks the 22nd year that the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, better known to all as GLAAD, has tracked LGBTQ characters on television. Today’s new GLAAD report — the Where We Are on TV report — bears some good and bad news on the prevalence of queer TV representation in 2017.
Let’s break it down.
The new GLAAD report examines the 20178-2018 TV season, specifically the diversity of series regular characters in primetime (scripted) shows on the networks, cable channels and streaming services. So that includes Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and the like.
As the report indicates, we find ourselves in an interesting time for LGBTQ acceptance, as “the Trump Administration is actively working to roll back the rights of all marginalized communities in unprecedented ways,” says GLAAD.
GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis remarks, “At a time when the Trump administration is trying to render LGBTQ people invisible, representing LGBTQ people in all of our diversity in scripted TV programs is an essential counterbalance that gives LGBTQ people stories to relate to and moves the broader public to support LGBTQ people and families.”
The good news: This new GLAAD report finds the highest percentage of LGBTQ regulars on broadcast television (6.4%) since the org began its tracking.
The bad news: The lack of diversity among LGBTQ TV characters persists.
Queer characters are predominantly white: 77% of LGBTQ characters on streaming, 62% on broadcast, 64% on cable, to be exact. The majority are men (55%) and cisgender. GLAAD found only 17 trans characters on all of broadcast, cable and streaming.
More good news: The new GLAAD report has now started tracking non-binary and asexual characters. Cable and streaming each had one asexual character in the 2017-2018 season (Raphael on Freeform’s Shadowhunters; Todd on Netflix’s BoJack Horseman), though broadcast had no canon asexual characters.
More findings from the new GLAAD report include:
- Of the 901 regular characters expected to appear on broadcast scripted primetime programming this season, 58 (6.4%) were identified as LGBTQ, the highest percentage ever. There were an additional 28 recurring LGBTQ characters.
- The number of regular LGBTQ characters counted on scripted primetime cable increased to 103, and recurring characters increased to 70, making for 173 characters.
- There were 51 LGBTQ regular characters counted in original scripted series on the streaming services Amazon, Hulu, and Netflix as well as 19 recurring characters. This is an increase of five total characters from last year.
- Bisexual+ characters make up 28% of the LGBTQ characters tracked across all platforms (broadcast, cable, streaming originals), a slight decrease from last year. These characters still heavily skew toward women (75 women to 18 men).
- This year, there are 17 regular and recurring transgender characters tracked across all three platforms. Of those, nine are trans women, four are trans men, and four are non-binary. This is notably the first time GLAAD has been able to count non-binary characters.
- Of the 70 LGBTQ characters counted on streaming originals, 77% were white. All three platforms tracked — broadcast, cable, streaming — lacked LGBTQ characters of color.
In the words of Megan Townsend, GLAAD’s Director of Entertainment Research & Analysis, “There is still more work to be done.”
Featured image by franckreporter via iStock