GLAAD Report: ABC Family Scores 'Excellent' Grade, CBS Improves But Still Last Among Nets

Those Pretty Little Liars — or, namely, Emily — helped ABC Family score a rare “Excellent” rating in GLAAD’s 5th annual Network Responsibility Index, which tracks the quantity, quality and diversity of images of LGBT people on television. CBS, meanwhile, again placed last among the broadcast networks, though improved upon its 2010 “Failing” grade to earn an “Adequate” score.

Like MTV, the only other outlet to ever rate “Excellent” in the survey, ABC Family targets the youth market. The home to series such as PLL and the recently graduated Greek aced this year’s report by having 55 percent of its 103 hours of original primetime programming feature LGBT-inclusive images.

Of the broadcast nets, The CW came out on top (with 33 percent), followed by Fox (29 percent) and ABC (22 percent); all three garnered “Good” ratings. NBC placed fourth (with 15 percent) but demonstrated “the most racially diverse” LGBT depictions, including The Office‘s Oscar and SVU‘s Dr. George Huang (though the latter was cited for being a “relatively minor character”). Conversely, ABC exhibited the least racial diversity, save for Grey’s Anatomy‘s Callie and a Latino character on the canceled The Whole Truth.

As mentioned above, CBS bettered its LGBT representation to 10 percent, buoyed in part by The Good Wife‘s gay brother and bisexual (former) BFF, plus peripheral characters on $#*! My Dad Says (since snuffed) and Rules of Engagement. “CBS showed the most improvement of any broadcast network,” GLAAD’s report notes, “however we continue to urge them to address the problems and deficiencies in their representation of our community.”

Among cable outlets, “Good” ratings were assigned to Showtime (37%), TNT (33%), HBO (31%), Lifetime (31%), AMC (29%), and Syfy (22%). Thanks in part to upgrading Marsha Thomason aka lesbian FBI agent Diana to full-time status, USA Network upped its game (from 4 to 18 percent) and landed it in the “Adequate” category, while for the fourth year in a row A&E (5%) and TBS (5%) both received “Failing” grades.

GLAAD’s full report can be downloaded here.

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67 Comments
  1. Wallie says:

    Ugh, GLAAD put a can in it. Not all TV shows need or require a ‘gay’ character. I don’t mind seeing a gay character or storyline thats fine but stop making networks feel they HAVE to have one for some stupid grade that represents nothing. GLAAD needs a life.

    • Sasha says:

      I agree completely Wallie!! Who cares what GLAAD’s rating of them is… but they make it seem like such a big honor. Who cares!

    • Kevin H. says:

      Trolls like you need to get a life, too.

      • Pete says:

        I agree with you Wallie! Just because a show doesn’t have a gay character, doesn’t mean it’s crap. GLAAD is pushing the bar!

    • frosty says:

      Think about the gay kids at home who never see any proper representation of gay people on television. That’s what Gladd is trying to do.

      • Eli says:

        What about the poor goth kids at home who never see any proper representation of goth people on television?
        Or what about the nerd and geek kids, who are stuck with watching stereotypes of themselves?
        For that matter, why don’t we throw some more native americans on the screen? And a couple of hot Inuit chicks would be awesome too, cause Inuits are people too!

        (WARNING: The above text contains high doses of SARCASM. Do not consume if you are suffering from lack of humor or political correctness!)

        • Chris says:

          Goths, nerds/geeks, and Native Americans aren’t constantly reminded of the fact that a huge part of their lives (romance, love, etc.) is considered taboo and inappropriate for many. By showing a homosexual child only images of heterosexual relationships in their formative years you are telling them that they are not as socially acceptable which is where self-hate comes from (like Karofsky on Glee! But it happens in real life too).

          Also, stop throwing around the term ‘political correctness’. It just looks like you’re mocking the struggles of minorities. Another tip, don’t hide behind the shield of sarcasm. That’s still a scary sentiment and I feel like you’re using sarcasm incorrectly anyway.

          • Musica1 says:

            Gays and lesbians only should be represented in tv shows in their actual percentages in society, which is quite small. I’ve only ever worked with one gay man in my life, so to have them all over the place in tv shows is over representation

          • John Berggren says:

            With your attitude Musica, I can’t fathom any gay people wanting to be close enough to come out to you.

      • Wallie says:

        Thats not the issue, I think its okay to have a good representation of a gay character on TV. The problem is GLAAD feeling the need to inform every show they SHOULD have a gay character or they will fail this stupid test. Like I said not all shows need a gay character or require one. TV is not a depiction of real life which is why people WATCH TV in the first place, to get awaaaaaaay from the real world.

        • Chris says:

          So you’re saying you watch TV to get away from homosexuals? Cute.

          • Wallie says:

            That is CLEARLY not what I said or meant. Stop trying to be a smart ass and twist my words so that you can make me out to be a homosexual bigot. I am definetly not that. I simply stated that GLAAD needs to understand that not all shows need or require a gay character or storylibe. They can’t force shows to have one by giving them a test or grade that means nothing.

          • Dave says:

            @Chris You are just trying to pick a fight aren’t you? Not one person on here has sais that they should keep gays off tv or that it was wrong to have gays on tv or that they watch tv to get away from homosexuals. You sir/maam (sorry Chis could be either and I am not sure) are a troublemaker. All anyone is saying is that it is stupid for tv shows to feel forced to put a gay character in the show just for some stupid rating. I mean one of my favorite tv shows Buffy the Vampire Slayer had a lesbian character in Willow and Tara and in fact Willow was one of my favorite characters. That show worked with it and it felt natural. I would hate for a show that I love though for a character to all of sudden be gay when they have never even gave any indication that they might be or introduce a gay character that just does not work just so they can get a stupid glaad rating. Sometimes these big organizations hurt thier cause by doing this kind of crap than help it. I mean I am all for against animal cruelity but Peta is one of the biggest jokes of an orginization I have ever heard of. It’s because orginizations like this take things to the extreme all the time and it just makes people resent thier cause a lot of times. That being said I do agree it is good to have some sort of gay or lesbian presence on tv for that particular group of people. It just doesn’t have to be on every single freaking show on tv.

        • ... says:

          Well then under what you’re saying… every show doesn’t need to have a straight person, but pretty much all shows do. Actually every show on network cable has someone that’s straight. There is very little gay representation on TV and movies, even though it’s more than it used to be. Like on a show like Grey’s anatomy, there are many characters and two are gay. I feel like people don’t think of it like that.

          • Dave says:

            That statement is so funny it’s not even funny. I mean seriously??? You are as bad as GLAAD. Face it there are more straight people in this world than there are gay/lesbian. So if you have a show that is based on 25 different characters there is a very good chance there are only going to be 1, 2, or maybe 3 gay characters in there. That’s how things are. Oh wait I guess maybe straight people just need to start being gay just to fix that right? Please I am not saying anything againt gay or lesbians. If they want to make a show about nothing but gay people and not have one straight person on it I have no problem with it but making a statement not every show needs to have a straight person on it is like saying if there was a show about Africa that it wouldn’t have to have any africans in it. Straight is the majority Gay/Lesbian is the minority thats how it is. Gay/Lesians do not deserve to be treated poorly for it. It’s not thier fault they are in the minority but like I said. It’s how it is.

    • lipsticksocialism says:

      GLAAD is looking at networks overall; they are NOT saying that every show needs to have LGBTIQ representation. A network only needs to have a gay character in every OTHER show (i.e. 55%) to score Excellent. Meaning that GLAAD’s standard is that HALF the shows on the network should have some kind of LGBTIQ representation.

      Seeing that LGBTIQ characters are rarely the main characters of a show, having every other show feature ONE supporting LGBTIQ character would adequately represent 10% of the total population who are LGBTIQ.

      • Eli says:

        What does I stand for? In transition?

        • lipsticksocialism says:

          I usually stands for Intersex — people who are born with genitalia that doesn’t fit within the binary male/female model. ONE such instance is when a baby is born with a vagina as well as an engorged clitoris, resembling a penis.

  2. Matt says:

    I actually think there is a level where there is too much coverage of GLBTs on TV. And I object as a gay person to it being used as a ratings grabber, or a ‘look at us, we’re diverse and have a gay couple’.

  3. Paul says:

    Just because a show doesn’t have a gay character doesn’t mean it’s bad.

  4. JD Rogue says:

    I’m gay, (omg!) and really not EVERY show has to have a gay character. For it to be a good storyline it has to be organic. GLADD is great about saying what is good, but who are they to say what is bad? Let the networks that don’t have LGBT storylines figure it out themselves — Honestly! If you want to be equal then act like it and stop lamenting. ’nuff said.

  5. Craggers says:

    I would have thought Fox would score higher just for Glee alone. Pretty Little Liars has one regular lesbian character while Glee has 5 gay or bisexual characters (Kurt, Santana, Brittany, Blaine, Kurofsky).

    • Chris says:

      FOX has more shows in general than ABC Family, though, so Glee is more diluted on FOX than PLL is on ABC Family. Or so I assume.

      • Mandy says:

        Exactly. Think of all the other shows on Fox that have no LGBTQ characters on them, like Bones or House. But ABC Family has more representations on more shows.
        I wonder if they count in reality TV programing? For example, The Voice had several gay contestants, so do those people help increase NBC’s rating? Versus say Fox, who has American Idol, but those contestants generally don’t come out while on the show.

    • pria says:

      Brittany doesn’t have her sexuality defined. And I hope it contuinues to be like that. Sexuality doesn’t always need a label. Sometimnes people just like what they like and that’s that.

  6. Eli says:

    This is the most retarded thing I’ve read in weeks… Only in policor USA could this be taken seriously…

  7. tahina says:

    They missed to mention gay married couple on Modern Family, and though Kalinda,TGW, is not even mentioned though, Archi Panjabi’s pic is shown. Both shows on ABC by the way and they dont use it as ratings grabber,I think, but because the actors do a phenomenal job..love Archie! <3.

  8. Davi says:

    I like to see a gay or lesbian character on my screen, but I disagree with GLAAD’s methodology on things. You’re trying to force every show to have a GLAAD story line? I’m sorry, to me there is much more to a show and character than their sexual orientation.

    I enjoy a gay story line in a show when it is organic, but it annoys me greatly when they’re just there to boost ratings or awkward and obviously there to appease.

    I also have to say that MTV garnering and excellent makes me doubt the logic or believability of this whole thing. MTV is not known for anything be shock, degradation and sensationalism. There’s a reason they’re the King of Guilty Pleasure Programming.

    • iMarty says:

      I’m surprised by it too. There’s no gay character in their most popular show: Jersey Shore. Don’t tell me that there aren’t gay guidos.

  9. Spencer says:

    Wallie, I am a huge gay rights supporter, by I also agree. If GLAAD wants true equality, we need to stop making such a big deal about characters who are gay. that is when we will be truly equal. I mean, you never see them make a big deal about the straight characters, so making a big deal about the gay ones actually just offends the gay community more.

  10. Catlover says:

    Tired of all the “agendas” being pushed instead of good entertainment.. We don’t watch mainstream tv anymore.. Kids learn what WE want them to learn..

  11. Chris says:

    Hey, everyone. GLAAD isn’t telling you that you need to boycott every TV show and TV channel that fails their test. They are just showing what the current media climate is for the LBTQ community. You can all stop overreacting now.

  12. L says:

    Screw GLAAD, their scores and everyone who conforms to their BS standards. They should just shut it.

  13. Sam says:

    You’re all idiots. God forbid there’s a group that appreciates diversity on television. There is no “agenda” here. Maybe if there were less people like you all, we could get a decent TV show starring a gay man or woman, instead of the crappy original stuff Logo spews out.

    • Dave says:

      No it’s groups like this that are causing that. Groups like this are forcing shows and networks to bring in gay characters that either to not fit the show or do not gel with the other characters on the show but because thier has to be diversity, GLAAD demands it everything is forced. Maybe if they would back off thier may be a strong gay character the develops on a show or on a new show naturally instead of being forced.

      • Sam says:

        You must be The King Idiot. No one is being forced into anything. Networks don’t look at scripts and say, “Okay, make this MORE edgy.” I’d say almost all (maybe 95%) of gay characters are made at the creator’s discretion.

  14. Eli says:

    CBS not featuring gay characters?

    Please, The first season of Hawaii Five-0 was a 22-episode gay love story.

    • Castiella says:

      So true! CBS could increase their ratings exponentially if they’d stop trying to pretend Steve and Danno aren’t a couple. ;-)

  15. Ben says:

    Oh dear, its a bit like PETA being upset that the President swatted a fly.

    I now advocate for a new association to monitor the rate of murder on tv. Murders don’t happen nearly as much in real life as on tv, so I think that shows like CSI should be asked to tone down the murders to, say, 2 or 3 a season.

    TV is not real life! I object to anybody, of any cause, minority or majority, religious, racial, sexual or any other kind of cause, suggesting that an under or over representation on the box of their particular cause is wrong. It is and should be the choice of the screen writer as to what characters they want to write, feel comfortable writing etc.

    Unfortunately, what GLAAD doesn’t realise as with many people who do this kind of thing for a cause, is that this kind of survey actually undermines, not encourages, tolerance.

    If it was strictly talking about the representation of GLBS in reality television, then they might have a point.

  16. John Berggren says:

    Considering the amount of gay people who run or contribute articles to this site, and my presumption that it’s a pro-gay site, it’s amazing to hear all of the obnoxious bigotry that flows every time something gay is mentioned.

    God forbid the GAY AND LESBIAN ALLIANCE AGAINST DEFAMATION should actually work towards their mission.

    Though I suppose these are the same types of prejudicial comments that faced other similar groups. But it’s less fashionable to be racist these days.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naacp

    • Ben says:

      John, someone can disagree with the intent of this ‘Network Responsibility Index’ and still be gay, you know.

      • John Berggren says:

        First – that is not the nature of most of these comments.

        Second – if you are gay GLADD has done a lot for you. Go back even 20 years and television told a very different story. GLADD was instrumental in giving you a lot of what you take for granted.

        • Ben says:

          As I noted, its like PETA complaining about swatting a fly. There are, I think, activities that are positive for your cause, and activities that are negative. I don’t think this kind of thing is helpful for tolerance towards GLBS community.

          I’m not a fan of at least 50% of what my work union does either. It doesn’t mean I’m not grateful for the positive impacts they achieve, its just that I think organisations such us this tend to push things further than is actually appropriate.

          It’s possible to criticise this Index without criticising GLAAD, the GLBS society, and my read of the comments is that its a very small handful of people criticising this Index that are doing so out of intolerance. Most appear to be disagreeing with the apparent intent of the index. Although I admit there are a small handful of intolerant comments.

          • John Berggren says:

            While I understand your point, the fact that the index exists has a lot to do with why there is already so much positive representation on TV. I can’t see a problem with the encouragement it provides.

  17. abc123 says:

    I don’t get all the hate. I’m a gay man and as such I like being represented on TV. Not every show has to have a gay character, but if you choose your show’s setting to be New York, Boston, LA, Chicago, San Francisco etc. (and most shows do) then you’re kind of obligated to show the diversity of the environment you’re in because it adds to the realness of the show.

    That, however, doesn’t mean that, say, every NY-set show must have a GLBT regular character. But it does strike me as odd that a show like HIMYM, for example, which is set in NYC and follows the lives of five urbanites in their early 30s, has yet to feature a recurring GLBT character (or a recurring character of color, while we’re at it). In contrast, shows like Community, which is set in Middle of Nowhere, Colorado has a 50-50 ratio of white and non-white characters. I’m not saying they’re overdoing it, I’m just saying, if they can do it, why can’t shows like HIMYM or Cougar Town show some more diversity? Conversely, I don’t expect this from shows like The Middle (which, incidentally, does feature a recurring gay character). And for all the people who claim we’re overrepresented – go suck an egg. We’re UNDERrepresented if anything.

    • John Berggren says:

      Most people with these prejudices like to deny that more gay people exist because “I don’t know any”. Perhaps you don’t because none of the people in your life who are gay feel comfortable talking to you about it.
      I think Community is wonderful by the way, for any number of reasons. I think the show is honest in showing that diversity exists in the most unexpected of places.
      The gay community might like to be in New York or Boston or San Francisco, but there are plenty that are born in “Greendale” Colorado, or “SpaceJesus” Utah.

      • abc123 says:

        SpaceJesus, Utah? Lol What show is that?

        Yes, Community is wonderful and even though it doesn’t feature a gay character, there’s a lot of gay-related talk what with Shirley’s devout religious beliefs, Pierce’s intolerance, Britta’s over-PC-ness, Jeff’s metrosexuality and Troy and Abed’s “weird little relationship,” as Shirley characterizes it. A swift wiki search for Colorado demographics tells me that it might be in the show’s best interest to add a Latino recurring character in the near future, although I doubt that anyone would be quick to criticize a show this diverse – or this awesome!

        • John Berggren says:

          Don’t forget that Dean Pelton, while not gay, is …. omnisexual? It’s not clear what’s going on with him, but there is definitely some man-love-relationship-thing happening between him and Dean Spreck. There is no doubt in my mind that he wishes that Jeff would be more than just a little bit metro.

          I don’t mind that the occasional gay character come off as a bit odd and skeevy like the dean, because you know what? They exist. Inclusion should neither be whitewashed nor stereotyped.

          • abc123 says:

            I left him out on purpose. Who knows what he is… I think he’s a little sexually perverted so I wouldn’t appreciate it if he turned out gay in the end, but I think the show’s taking a “keep them guessing” approach when it comes to his sexuality. I do fear, however, that our self-representation on TV will ultimately be our undoing. Ever seen Logo’s The A-List? ‘Nuff said.

          • John Berggren says:

            I’m not suggesting he should be embraced for representing the community, but he exists within it. There are plenty of people who exist in plenty of communities that their respectice communities would not want to be stereotyped or known for.

            The average asian person might not want to claim Chang, but he is asian.

    • goffy says:

      Uhh, clearly you haven’t watched all of the series. James Stinson is both Colored and Gay, with a son. has appeared 7-8 times over the 6 seasons? The show has very little reccuring characters to begin with.

  18. Mcat says:

    CBS could improve their score by having NCIS’ Tony and Gibbs finally admit their love for each other. ;)

    • Dee says:

      Completely agree, Mcat.

      Love their relationship and hate every time they try to bring in a love interest for either of the characters.

      It is interesting that they never seem to work out.

      Weatherly and Harmon do have fantastic chemistry.

  19. Huhh? says:

    Where’s the asian love? All the articles about the blacks and the gays, well there are already token gays and blacks in pretty much all shows, but the asian community is underrepresented to the extreme. Their race represents like a third of humanity, and no, I don’t mean in America but I need me some more asians please.

  20. KevyB says:

    For tv to convince us their shows take place in the real world, they MUST make the casts look like the real world. And maybe a show like The Middle, that takes place in Whitebread, Indiana, doesn’t need to show us a mixed cast. But considering the vast majority of these shows take place in NYC or LA, and most of the rest in other large cities, it’s unrealistic to have a cast without a single Latino, Asian, or homosexual… especially those taking place in NYC and LA, where white people are also a minority! NOBODY lives in a large city and doesn’t know at least one Latino, Asian or gay person. Yet all three are under-represented on tv, and all three have groups which “grade” networks for representing their kind. Now would all these people whining about GLAAD whine if it were a Latino or Asian group grading the networks? If you say no, you’re a bigot.

  21. Dee says:

    Why did the CW score so highly in the report?

    What shows have this diversity? I know that there was a gay character on 90210 and that Serena’s brother is gay, but who else?

    The Thursday and Friday shows sure as heck don’t have any.

  22. jayarby says:

    Newsflash: Most people AREN’t gay. They are a very very small minority. Why the need to have at least one gay person on every show is beyond me. There are so many people in this country with different nationalities, physical/mental disorders, etc. TV shows are only an hour max. Ya can’t fit everybody in there, folks.

    • John Berggren says:

      Newsflash – GLAAD isn’t requesting 100% inclusion in every show. It’s a network inclusion analysis – how well represented within the 12-20 hours of primetime a network programs.

      And there are more than you assume.

      • Jayarby says:

        Well if there 20 TV shows with 5 major characters on each show then maybe about 5-10 characters should be gay. Following that logic, there should be at least 20 characters that are obese.

        • lipsticksocialism says:

          Yes, perhaps there should be. GLAAD is out there fighting for representation of its own community. I welcome any organization that wants to see a diversity of body types on TV rate the networks on how well they are doing. There are plenty of groups who are marginalized and not represented on TV (or pidgenholed into a show for themselves); other organizations should push for that two. I would have nothing against seeing characters on TV that resemble real life people more and represent the diversity in our society.

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