GLAAD released their annual “Where We Are on TV” report for the 2018-2019 TV season Thursday morning and the numbers showed a record-high percentage of LGBTQ regular characters on broadcast TV, with LGBTQ people of color outnumbering white LGBTQ people for the first time.
Now in its 23rd year, details of the report were announced during an event with GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis as well as a panel discussion that included writer, director and producer Greg Berlanti, UTA TV literary agent Lucinda Moorhead, Steven Canals (Co-Creator, FX’s Pose) and remarks from GLAAD Director of Entertainment Research & Analysis Megan Townsend. The report found that LGBTQ series regulars accounted for a record-high 8.8% of all series regulars on broadcast television. This is an increase that beats last year’s record of 6.4%, which was the highest since GLAAD expanded the report to count all broadcast series regulars 14 years ago.
Another record-high percentage was found in the representation of LGBTQ people of color on broadcast television with black representation up to 22% from 18%; Latinx representation holding steady at 8%, tying last year’s record; and API series regular characters up 8% from 7%. This marks a milestone for LGBTQ people of color representation on broadcast television as they account for 50% while white LGBTQ people account for 49%.
When it comes to representation of LGBTQ men and women, the report found that characters on broadcast television are at gender parity with equal percentages of men and women (49.6%). This is an improvement from last year’s report which had 55% men and 44% women.
Improved numbers continued with representation of bisexual people (up to 117 from last year’s 93), transgender people (26 from 17) as well as HIV-positive characters (7 from 2).
“With anti-LGBTQ policies being debated here and abroad, the stories and characters on television are more critical than ever before to build understanding and acceptance of LGBTQ people,” said Ellis. “Not only do stories that explore the rich lives and identities of LGBTQ people move the needle forward culturally, but they pay off in ratings – shows like Will & Grace, Supergirl, Empire, and How To Get Away with Murder all attract millions of viewers weekly and demonstrate that audiences are hungry for new stories and perspectives.”
During the event, Ellis challenged the industry to reach 10 percent LGBTQ inclusion among broadcast series regular characters on primetime scripted series by 2020.
The “Where We Are on TV” report analyzes the overall diversity of primetime scripted series regulars on broadcast networks and assesses the number of LGBTQ characters on cable networks and original scripted streaming series on the services Amazon, Hulu, and Netflix for the season. Of the 857 regular characters expected to appear on broadcast scripted primetime programming this season, 75 were identified as LGBTQ. There was also 38 recurring LGBTQ characters.
The number of regular LGBTQ characters counted on scripted primetime cable increased to 120 and recurring characters increased to 88, for a total of 208 LGBTQ characters on cable. Again, this is an increase from last year which counted 173 characters on cable.
On the streaming end of things, there were 75 LGBTQ regular characters counted on original scripted series on Amazon, Hulu, and Netflix as well as 37 recurring characters. These 112 LGBTQ characters marks another increase in the report compared to last year’s 65 LGBTQ characters.
Of the networks and streaming platforms, Netflix has most LGBTQ characters tallying 88 characters, almost doubling last year’s count. This includes characters from the upcoming Tales of the City, which includes several queer and trans characters as well as Orange is the New Black. Shows such as GLOW, Santa Clarita Diet, Luke Cage, and Voltron: Legendary Defender put LGBTQ characters in the spotlight. To increase its scope of representation, BoJack Horseman continues to feature the only asexual character (Aaron Paul’s Todd Chavez) while the new series Chilling Adventures of Sabrina features pansexual character Ambrose (Chance Perdomo).
FX was reported as the most LGBTQ-inclusive cable network with 23 regular and recurring LGBTQ characters, with most appearing on the Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Story and Pose, which made history with the largest number of series regular trans characters on a scripted series. Freeform, Showtime, and TNT ranked in a close second to FX with 21 LGBTQ characters.
Starz’s forthcoming coming-of-age comedy Now Apocalypse which features a queer man, Ulysses, and his three best friends as they try to find fame, love, and sex all while trying to settle in Los Angeles. Other LGBTQ-inclusive series highlighted in the report include the final season of Freeform’s Shadowhunters, the Starz Latinx series Vida as well as American Gods, Preacher, Andi Mack, The Magicians, Wynonna Earp, Shameless, Billions and Versailles.
Read the full report here.