Each year since 2007, GLAAD has filed a Network Responsibility Index, a report card of sorts, examining how major television channels are doing with the quantity and quality of images of LGBT people.
Granted, it’s not an exact science—what’s considered a “positive” representation is open to interpretation. Take Lafayette and Jesus on True Blood. Some might say a short-order cook/drug dealer and his witch boyfriend don’t make good role models. But considering their friends are fairies, vampires, shapeshifters and (possibly) werepanthers, its a sliding scale.
And admittedly, GLAAD’s sampling seems random: Boutique channels like A&E and ABC Family get vetted, but major networks like Bravo, MTV and Comedy Central aren’t. And maybe GLAAD could show some balls and give Logo a thorough examination for how its representing the rainbow. (Granted, in a different study.)
Still, the report is interesting reading—especially if you haven’t kept up on what’s airing on the boob tube these days. The full study, made available today, can be found here.
Some findings include:
The Good News
- Lots of shows with major queer storylines, characters and themes are critical and commercial success. And a number are Emmy nominees or winners—like Modern Family, True Blood and Glee.
- There are more LGBTs of color on the airwaves, on shows like True Blood, The Good Wife and Grey’s Anatomy.
- There’s been an uptick of gay representations on shows and networks aimed at youth. ABC Family received GLAAD’s “Excellent” rating for its good work on shows like Greek, Kyle XY and The Secret Life of the American Teenager. “We’re proud of our programming and grateful for the recognition,” says ABC Family president Michael Riley. “We strive to reflect the rich diversity of our audience and the world around us, including the LGBT community, through strong characters and engaging, authentic storytelling. [This is] a validation of our programming’s positive impact.”
The Bad News
- Trans people got the short end of the stick, representing only 1% of all LGBT people, real or fictional, represented on television.
- Though it went from “Failing” last year to “Adequate” this one, CBS gets a strong rap across the knuckles for having no regular LGBT characters it any series and, when we do make appearances, for generally portraying us as punchlines or victims. Yeah, that’s why we never laughed during an episode of Two & A Half Men.
- Along with TBS, A&E got a Failing grade. Basically it’s only queer cred comes from the fact that the host of Paranormal State, Ryan Buell (above), came out as bisexual. A guy who runs around in empty prisons talking about ghosts sometimes sleeps with dudes. Yay!
Do you have something to say about LGBT representations on television? Tell us in the comments. And there will be a test!