How Did MTV Get Such a Low ‘Gays On TV’ Score?


Thanks to characters like a line cook who’s addicted to vampire blood, HBO is getting the nod as the most gay-friendly network. Not near the top? CBS and NBC.

The annual Network Responsibility Index from the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation looks at positive representations of GLBTs on the small screen. Not surprisingly, it gave ABC good marks for including gays on basically every show on the network: Brothers & Sisters, Ugly Betty, and Grey’s Anatomy. But on NBC, a network whose taste varies from The Office to I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here, the homos weren’t representing.

Interestingly, Fox got a boost from two characters on House and Bones — who are bisexual. Love our Bs, but whenever networks go bi, it always strikes us as a ratings stunt to generate interest from male audiences than anything else.

HBO, which earns a reported $1.2 billion a year in profit, obviously doesn’t have the same restrictions many networks have on playing to the lowest common denominator, since it generates much of its revenue from subscriber fees (as well as cable operator carrier fees). Same goes for Showtime, which also earned decent marks, thanks to plenty of gay action on shows like United States of Tara.


Our most interesting find among all the data? Lifetime, a network built for women and gay men, and MTV, a network built for young folks assumed to be more progressive than most, scored among the lowest of the ten cable networks analyzed. If it weren’t for the gays and trans on The Real World, we’d be stuck with a teen network running on fumes with The Hills — the most buzz-worthy show in recent memory that didn’t include a single queer.

(Download the full report here; PDF)