STUDY: There’s More TV Shows Than Ever, So Where Are All The Queer Characters?
Last week, the cable network FX released some data about TV and it’s mind-boggling. In the first seven months of 2015, viewers have seen 267 new scripted television series. That’s an average of one new show every day (more than that, actually). And that’s not even counting the kids’ shows! Last year there were a total of 371 new series by the end of the year, and once the fall season kicks in the 2015 lineup will soar past that easily. “2015 will easily blow through the 300 series mark,” are the exact words used by John Landgrad, CEO of FX. His predicition? This year or next will be the peak for TV in America before we start seeing a decline in new shows. But what does this mean for casual viewers that like to see queers on their television sets? Will we be seeing more or fewer queer TV characters?
On the one hand, the sheer abundance of shows makes it harder to find the ones that we’re actually going to like. And with ratings determining each show’s future, every week is a countdown to the chopping block. It’s been ten years since we said goodbye to Queer As Folk, and earlier this year HBO’s Looking was cancelled before star Russell Tovey had a chance to say anything else dumb.
On the bright side, fans of LGBT storylines have now got shows like Empire, Transparent, and a new season of American Horror Story (with Cheyenne Jackson and Lady Gaga). There are a couple of different queer storylines on Lifetime’s reality TV takedown UnREAL, and the second season of vh1’s actual reality series Love & Hip Hop Hollywood will feature a gay storyline that’s ruffling some (clearly staged) feathers. For kids there’s also the great Steven Universe, a show that features two non-gendered female-presenting characters in a lesbian relationship.
Netflix introduced two gay men into the comedy series Grace and Frankie, and fans of problematic trans characters have a whole range of TV viewing options. Still to come, this fall we’ll be introduced to ABC’s upcoming FBI drama Quantico, which features Rock Cosnett as an openly gay government analyst, and there’s web series Paper Boys, which features a lead character who’s gay and Asian-American.
In short, it looks like we’ll still have plenty of queer TV characters, but you might have to look in a few different places to find them.