GLAAD’s annual “Where We Are on TV” report was released Thursday, analyzing the overall diversity of primetime scripted TV series regulars on broadcast networks and assesses the number of regular and recurring LGBTQ characters on primetime scripted cable programming and original scripted streaming series.
The 17th annual study, which covers TV programs airing or expected to premiere or return between June 1, 2021 and May 31, 2022, found that out of 775 series regular characters scheduled to air on scripted broadcast primetime programming during the 2021-2022 season, 92 (11.9% ) are LGBTQ, up 2.8 percentage points from last year to a record high. There are an additional 49 LGBTQ recurring characters, for a total of 141 LGBTQ characters on broadcast.
In another high-water mark, lesbian characters represent the majority of the LGBTQ characters on broadcast at 40% (56 characters), up 6% year over year. Gay men make up 35% (49 characters), a decrease of 5% from last year’s report. Bisexual+ representation, on the decline for the past two years, this year saw a slight increase, now representing 19% (27) of regular and recurring LGBTQ characters.
As for racial diversity of LGBTQ characters, those numbers are up on broadcast and streaming, but down on cable.
For a fourth year in a row, the report found that LGBTQ people of color (58% ) outweighed white LGBTQ people on broadcast, continuing to meet GLAAD’s previous challenge of achieving equity in that category. After meeting and surpassing the challenge last year, representation of LGBTQ people of color on cable decreased this year to 45%. Representation of LGBTQ people of color on streaming increased to 49%.
This year’s streaming services documented for the report expanded from Amazon, Netflix and Hulu to add Apple TV+, Disney+, HBO Max, Paramount+ and Peacock.
“After finding several decreases in the previous year’s study, it is exciting to see quick progress made year-over-year with a new record high percentage of LGBTQ series regulars on broadcast, as well as increases in underrepresented parts of the community including queer women, transgender characters, and LGBTQ people of color,” said Megan Townsend, GLAAD’s Director of Entertainment Research & Analysis. “However, we continue to see that LGBTQ inclusion is often found in clusters from a concentrated number of creatives and networks who have prioritized telling our stories.”
Townsend added that three cable networks account for close to half of all LGBTQ inclusion on cable, and 8.5% of LGBTQ characters across all platforms tracked appear on shows tied to just four producers.
In other findings, there are 42 regular and recurring transgender characters tracked across all three platforms (broadcast, cable, and streaming), up from 29 last year. Of those, 20 are trans women, 14 are trans men, and eight are nonbinary trans characters. They appear across 25 dramas and 11 comedies. There are a further 17 characters who are nonbinary and not trans.
GLAAD counted two characters who are living with HIV, a decrease from the previous year’s three characters (all of whom appeared on FX’s Pose), and down from the nine characters tallied in 2020. Both characters counted this year are recurring: Michael in Netflix’s Dear White People and Sai in NBC’s Ordinary Joe. In last year’s study, GLAAD and Gilead Sciences called on the entertainment industry to grow representation of HIV in an effort to drive cultural and societal change in ending the stigma of people who are living with HIV; more than 1.2 million people are living with HIV in the U.S.
The study also found that series regular characters with disabilities fell to 2.8% (22 of 775) from 3.5% last year.
“The growing state of LGBTQ representation on television is a signal that Hollywood is truly starting to recognize the power of telling LGBTQ stories that audiences around the world connect with,” GLAAD president and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said. “At a time when anti-LGBTQ legislation and violence continues to increase, it is cultural institutions like television that take on the crucial role of changing hearts and minds through diverse and inclusive storytelling. Networks and platforms must continue to prioritize telling LGBTQ stories that have been long overlooked, with a specific focus on the trans community, LGBTQ people of color, people living with HIV, and LGBTQ people with disabilities.”
Read the full report here.
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