Fewer Gay Characters on Network TV
There will be only 7 regular lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender characters on prime-time network TV this season, 6 of which will be on ABC, says GLAAD in a new study. That's only a little over 1%. Clearly, there's a long way to go before network TV begins to accurately represent the actual population.
The good news is that, unlike 20 years ago, many of these fictional people are much more realistic and compelling characters, one could actually look up to. They deal with real-life issues and struggles facing the LGBT community and they are normally content with their identity. Furthermore, they are finally allowed to be intimate on-screen.
But apart from ABC, LGBT people are still missing from prime-time, especially on CBS, The CW and FOX (although there is some LGBT representation in reality and animated programming). These networks have absolutely no regular LGBT characters in their scripted prime-time shows.
The gay-friendliest shows are of course ABC's "Ugly Betty" (including Rebecca Romijn's transgender character), "Brothers & Sisters" (at least 3 gay or bisexual characters) and "Desperate Housewives" (a gay couple is moving to Wisteria Lane this fall).
Last year there were 9 LGBT characters on network TV. Meanwhile, cable has once again surpassed network TV with as many as 57 LGBT characters this year, 40 of which will be series regulars.
But that's hardly a surprise. Unlike free-to-air broadcast networks which have to conform to numerous so-called "decency" standards, cable TV in the US is known for pushing the envelope and being more relaxed in terms of creative choices.
In 1982 ABC forced the producers of "Dynasty" to make their gay character Steven Carrington straight. In 1994 FOX edited out a kissing scene of Doug Savant and another male character in the season finale of "Melrose Place" fearing affiliate backlash and advertiser boycott.