Fewer gay char­ac­ters on TV this year: study

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - ENTERTAINMENT - By Lynn Elber

LOS AN­GE­LES — Fewer gay and bi­sex­ual char­ac­ters are part of the new broad­cast TV sea­son fol­low­ing a record-set­ting year, while cable de­pic­tions con­tin­ued to in­crease, ac­cord­ing to a new study from a me­dia ad­vo­cacy group.

GLAAD’s 18th an­nual Where We Are on TV re­port re­leased Fri­day says 3.3 per cent of 796 reg­u­larly ap­pear­ing char­ac­ters on prime-time broad­cast dra­mas and come­dies are les­bian, gay, bi­sex­ual or trans­gen­der.

Last sea­son’s study by GLAAD put LGBT de­pic­tions at 4.4 per cent.

Num­bers are one thing, con­tent is another, said GLAAD spokesman Wil­son Cruz.

“Last sea­son was a stellar one when it comes to the sheer num­ber of gay, les­bian and bi­sex­ual rep­re­sen­ta­tions on tele­vi­sion, though diver­sity within those sto­ry­lines showed room for im­prove­ment,” Cruz said in a re­lease.

De­spite the de­cline this sea­son, char­ac­ters such as an in­ter­ra­cial les­bian cou­ple rais­ing their chil­dren on ABC Fam­ily’s The Fosters have “not only moved the con­ver­sa­tion about LGBT peo­ple for­ward” but are pop­u­lar with view­ers, he said.

There are 46 LGBT reg­u­lar and re­cur­ring char­ac­ters on broad­cast tele­vi­sion, with half of them women and 28 per cent eth­nic mi­nori­ties, GLAAD said. One trans­gen­der char­ac­ter, Unique, is on Fox’s Glee.

Two net­works, ABC and Fox, showed in­creases this year and had the high­est pro­por­tions of LGBT char­ac­ters with 5.4 per cent each, the study found. The CW’s 3 per cent put it in third place, fol­lowed by CBS with 1.9 per cent and NBC with 1 per cent.

On cable, scripted pro­grams in­clude 42 reg­u­larly seen LGBT char­ac­ters, up from last sea­son’s 35.

HBO has the most LGBT char­ac­ters with 11, fol­lowed by Show­time with eight.

Look­ing more broadly at broad­cast TV diver­sity, the GLAAD study found a small de­cline in the per­cent­age of fe­male char­ac­ters to 43 per cent from 45 per cent. Mi­nor­ity char­ac­ters re­mained at 23 per cent, with one per cent of reg­u­lar char­ac­ters hav­ing a dis­abil­ity.

In a post-sea­son as­sess­ment for the 201213 lineup, Fox was found to be the most in­clu­sive broad­caster with LBGT im­ages in 42 per cent of its prime-time pro­gram­ming hours, while ABC Fam­ily was the front-run­ner on cable with LBGT im­ages in 50 per cent of its orig­i­nal pro­gram­ming.

The cable chan­nel His­tory lacked any LGBT im­ages last sea­son, GLAAD said.

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