GLAAD Report: The CW, Showtime Lead In LGBT Inclusion, CBS Returns to a 'Failing' Grade

The Good Wife, ShamelessCBSPartners had better hit primetime quick, because the most watched network has returned to a “Failing” grade in GLAAD’s annual Network Responsibility Index (NRI), which measures the quantity and quality of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) impressions being made on TV.

Among the broadcast networks, The CW — thanks in part to Top Model and The L.A. Complex, if not 90210‘s increasingly indifferent Adrianna — repeated in the No. 1 slot with 29 percent of its primetime hours featuring LGBT impressions.

ABC (at No. 2, with 27 percent) and Fox (No. 3, 24 percent) traded places this year, with the former buoyed by transgender Chaz Bono’s presence on Dancing With the Stars, as well as Modern Family, Grey’s Anatomy and Happy Endings. NBC placed fourth, improving to 19 percent because of shows like Smash and The Voice, while CBS stayed put in a distant last place, with 8 percent.

CBS, after netting an “F” two years ago, had improved to “Adequate” in GLAAD’s 2011 NRI, but this time around dipped back down, by 2 percent.

New-season fare such as CBS’ Partners, a sitcom in which Michael Urie and Brandon Routh play a gay couple, was not included in the NRI, which had an end-of-May cut-off date; as such, The Good Wife was left to account for many of the Eye’s LGBT impressions. And even kickass Kalinda can only accomplish so much.

Among cable networks, Showtime — led by the likes of  Shameless and The Real L Word — placed first and came the closest of any outlet to scoring an “Excellent” grade, though even it fell short due to demerits applied due to anti-LGBT comments made by Californication and House of Lies characters.

ABC Family (Pretty Little Liars), despite dropping from an “Excellent” score to “Good,” placed second, while FX (American Horror Story, Archer) came in No. 3.

History — which was included in the study for the first time this year — and TBS were slapped with “Failing” grades. TLC, another new addition to the NRI mix, mustered an “Adequate.” (Quick, moms, force your tiara’d toddlers to get “curious”!)

Other highlights from the NRI, which can be viewed in full here:

* The CW featured the greatest racial diversity in its LGBT impressions, thanks to programs like Top Model; ABC touted the least.

* Gay men were most prominent among TV’s LGBT impressions; bisexual women fared better than lesbians.

* USA Network delivered cable’s highest percentages of black and lesbian LGBT impressions — thanks single-handedly to White Collar‘s Diana, the network’s only regular LGBT character. In total hours, though, ABC Family’s did best by lesbians, largely due to Pretty Little Liars‘ Emily.

* GLAAD pointedly noted that while The Voice has featured several openly out contestants, American Idol, even 11 seasons in, has yet to do same. That fact, says the report, “looks less and less like a coincidence.”

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56 Comments
  1. Chuck Finley (AJ) says:

    If I was CBS I wouldn’t care what this organisation thinks. Their lifestyle is already vastly over-represented on TV in relation to reality and networks do not have a “responsibility” to promote their agenda to every American.

    • Mac19 says:

      You’re a disgrace to the Chuck Finley name.

    • TigerNightmare says:

      While I am in agreement that homosexual representation should not be shoe-horned into shows and that GLAAD is pretty much just a pointless fan club, I am not against gay characters being naturally written with humanity and depth. There is no agenda so much as there is depicting people who are gay as actual people and not the evil, destructive monsters you imagine them to be. I can’t begin to understand those in the gay community who continue to have religious faith, but there they are right next to you, whether you know it or not.

      • Chuck Finley (AJ) says:

        I’m not either. Some of the gay characters fit the story but it seems that an overwhelming number of shows have multiple gay characters now and it just isn’t realistic. GLAAD is just overbearing with their nonsense.

        • TigerNightmare says:

          “Overwhelming” seems like an incredible stretch. What shows besides Glee and Smash on primetime broadcast networks have more than one gay character? Go. It’s probably easier to name shows that don’t have any.

        • Gilda says:

          I’m sorry, I really have to disagree with you there. If my life were made into a show, there would be about 3 main characters that are gay. I have a lot of gay friends and the idea that gay people are so rare there can’t be more than one in a group is very old fashioned. And even if a show were to have an “unrealistic” amount of gay characters, it still wouldnt cancel out the unrealistically small number on most other shows.

    • Dee says:

      “Their lifestyle is already vastly over-represented on TV ”

      You mean, elderly, boring, white people? That is the majority of CBS viewers.

      Totally agree there.

      • Prue says:

        Completely agree. CBS is for old people.
        PS: Partners is not about a gay couple.

      • young,hip,white person says:

        Well I guess “elderly, boring, white people” are the most consistent TV viewers since CBS is the top rated network on TV. Survivor, Amazing Race, NCIS, Big Bang Theory, The Good Wife-all top ten rated shows every week.

        Majority Rules! Deal with it.

    • Laquisha says:

      There is no agenda the LGBT community is trying to promote. The fact is, there are LGBT people existing in the world just as there are straight people, so it’s simply showing these people on these shows to give an accurate portrayal of the world. The world is not made up of all straight people. And it’s also not a lifestyle. LGBT people just want to live in the world equally and free, just like everyone else. There is no agenda and no special treatment wanted.

      • Madison Fox says:

        But it’s NOT an accurate portrayal. That’s what he’s saying. There are many more Hispanics and Asians in this country then there are gay people, but they are represented on TV a small fraction of the amount gays are. So yeah, special treatment is wanted, especially when a show tests low because a character on it said something derogatory.

        Essentially, this group wants gays to be represented a lot more than what is actually real, and not only that, every other character on the show has to be nice to them. No special treatment I’m sure.

        • Chuck Finley (AJ) says:

          One person gets it. I congratulate you on having good reasoning skills. It’s not about whether I like gay people or not, its about one organisation trying to force their way into everything and insisting on being represented in numbers that are not accurate in terms of the real world. And for the person that says GLAAD doesn’t have an agenda I want some of whatever you are smoking. Their agenda is to get as many gay-centric characters and shows on TV as they can in an attempt to normalize the lifestyle of what amounts to less than 6% of the population. There are plenty of other minority groups out there that are under-represented on TV and you don’t see them handing out report cards to networks and trying to scold them like some overbearing hall monitor in grade school.

          • murley says:

            please stop calling it a “lifestyle”.

          • Chuck Finley (AJ) says:

            I’ll use whatever word I like and if you are offended then you are just going to have to live with it.

          • TigerNightmare says:

            You should follow your own advice, AJ.

          • Strepsi says:

            Wrong, wrong and wrong. 1) GLAAD is about gay representation, and is a fairly successful *single-issue* organization. I happen to agree with you about Latinos being the most underrepresented (and I am gay) but this is irrelevant to this issue.

            2) SO let’s take your figure of 6% of the population. GLAAD is only mentioning “LGBT-inclusive” which could include minor plots or guest roles, but not characters CBS failed because, in its many shows and ensemble procedurals there are literally hundreds of regular characters, and how many are gay? Kalinda on the Good Wife. That is a fail, even to reflect reality, never mind advance an agenda. CBS led the way on one point with its reality programming and great real gay people on Survivor and The Amazing Race, but its scripted shows fail to reflect reality.

            3) Gay life is normal life. It does not need to be normalized (although some people like Ryan Murphy and the creators of Modern Family do want to open some eyes about discrimination). But it simply needs to exist on TV…. bla bla bla life’s rich fabric.

          • the girl says:

            And to AJ’s comment I also add, it would be unfair for television to never depict people who are against homosexuality because quite frankly, those people exist. So while GLAAD of course would rather no one on TV ever says anything negative about the LGBT community, the reality is, that wouldn’t be honest.

        • TigerNightmare says:

          While I would agree that Hispanics tend to be underrepresented, I’m seeing a lot of Asian actors on TV in recent years. I also think you’re not looking at this the right way and also selectively ignoring the mistreatment of any gay characters on shows. Kurt on Glee (yeah, it sucks, but whatever) was bullied, Kalinda on The Good Wife is constantly battling drama, tons of gays end up beaten and/or murdered on crime shows and Jay on Modern Family strikes quite the honest balance between ashamed and loving father. It’s not that every character HAS to be nice to someone who is gay on a show, it just would naturally make most people dislike someone acting homophobic. And that happens and isn’t unheard of, but it would be a lot more common if writers didn’t want to distract from the story they were trying to tell. It’s the same as if it was a black character being a victim of racism. I believe we have a decent straight to gay characters ratio these days and they are far from over-representation. There would have to be more than one on every show for that to be true.

          • Edward 37 says:

            RE: “also selectively ignoring the mistreatment of any gay characters on shows. Kurt on Glee (yeah, it sucks, but whatever) was bullied, Kalinda on The Good Wife is constantly battling drama, tons of gays end up beaten and/or murdered on crime shows…” This and a lot of other comments about “reality” and the “real world” miss the point. For scripted shows, the goal is INTEREST and DRAMA. No show offers reality, because reality is BORING! that is why characters on shows (most all shows if they make enough episodes) are always getting together, breaking up, having wacky adventures, fighting, etc. That is why we see so many crime and medical shows – because they are parts of life with most drama, death, violence, action, etc. Even most “reality” shows have to manufacture conflict by picking contestants who are likely to give good drama, or creating situational premises that create interest and conflict. So things that provide that will always be over-represented in TV and film. Right now that means seeing homosexuality and homophobia, racism, gun violence, political fights, and shows that deal with losing our American consumer world (Walking Dead, Revolution, Fallen Skies, etc.)

        • Phil says:

          True. Hispanics and Asians are not well represented on TV and people usually mocks them and say discriminative crap. However, when you don’t like some gay person, EVERYONE comes against you. Talk about equality…

        • Renee says:

          I so agree with you.

    • Mafia says:

      You’re so right. CBS doesn’t need GLAAD’s aproval. They should be happy with Glee, and stop bitching about everything.

    • anne says:

      Representing, not promoting. Get that through your think skull.

  2. Californiagirl78 says:

    Seriously.. who cares? CBS can do whatever they want..

  3. georgethebeast says:

    as a gay i love watching gay characters on tv BUT i don’t want stupid storylines or let’s make him gay just to have a gay character… willow on buffy is the best example of how a gay character should be presented on tv. otherwise making someone gay for having lgbt community watching u is totally stupid and imho tragic!

  4. tahina says:

    Kaqlinda makes it for CBS and its enough for me.

  5. Amanda says:

    Hmm. I’m not sure what I think about surveys like this. I love seeing gay characters have natural fitting stories on the shows I watch, but I imagine surveys like this makes networks want to shove in a character as curious or openly gay to just boost a poll number – not to further a story.

  6. Brian says:

    Why are people feeding the troll that is chuck.

  7. Each network is catering to their demographic. I’m glad LGBT is being more represented on television but CBS is targeted at adult men so their desire to include an array of gay characters is probably less than a network like ABC or The CW that targets women. Including The LA Complex in that is a bit of a cheat though considering its not a true CW show. Would they get points for airing reruns or Will and Grace?

  8. Jenna says:

    Of course this survey is biased from the get-go. Still, CBS should recognize that even gay people are a part of law enforcement (which is what all of CBS’ dramas are about). Kudos to Southland, btw.

  9. I live in a very conservative, stuck-in-the-past country with mostly very narrow-minded, primitive people (the Balkan is a very happy place, as you can tell), and I’m the first person to shut down any homophobic conversation and the first person to defend LGBTQIA rights.

    However, I do agree with what some of the other commenters have said. I’m glad GLAAD exists and they serve a purpose, but this survey doesn’t make a whole lotta sense. They can, and SHOULD, rate networks on the amount of anti-gay, gay-bashing shows and characters. Not every show absolutely HAS to have a gay character. Not every show has a black character; that doesn’t mean the showrunners, writers and producers are racists. Not every show has kids in it. Not every show has elderly people in it. Not every show has mentally challenged characters in it. Not every show has characters with disabilities in it. Not every show has Muslim characters.

    There shouldn’t be a certain model for writing TV shows. Oh, you have to have a black character, an old lesbian, a gay kid, a Muslim and two Mexicans.

    Yeah, the fact that CBS doesn’t even have two shows with gay characters in it shows that they steer the writers of their shows in that direction, or the writers simply don’t feel the need to write gay characters in the show, simply because the type of shows CBS airs are appealing to a very old, conservative demographic – the ratings speak for themselves. Kudos to The CW, ABC, and Showtime for having LGBT-friendly and LGBT-inclusive shows on their schedules, but it shouldn’t be an obligation or a necessity. I believe that, not just the U.S., the entire world (The US actually is the smallest part of the global equation for fighting homophobia because it’s gotten so far already), television can and should be used for educational purposes and opening people’s minds about the LGBTQIA community. But writers shouldn’t be forced to write gay characters into their shows, neither should the networks be forced to put shows on the air with multiple gay characters.

    • Amanda says:

      You articulated exactly what I was trying to say but so much better. Thank you for that.

    • BtG says:

      Thank you! I’m a gay guy and I agree 100%. I’d rather writers and networks create satisfying portrayals of gay individuals because they felt that it was needed/necessary/held merit for the story, not just to up some gay representation quota. Including gay characters just for the sake of including gay characters when they serve no purpose to the overall story/narrative/theme of a show is just as bad as not including them.

  10. Saint Alicia says:

    Why am I not surprised some halfwit has overrun the comments…
    Anyway, it wouldn’t help CBS get a passing grade but I wonder if this survey counted that new field agent on NCIS. Dorneget(sp?) came out and it wasn’t a big to do, but it’s nice that the most-watched show on TV now has an out gay character.

    • It’s kind of ridiculous when networks pander to this kind of pressuring. Take Syfy, you can tell they just picked a character at random because of pressure from above and had to say he was gay. Jinxsy from Warehouse13. Is he ever shown as attracted to anyone, no, does he date, no. The only thing it does is rule out a romantic attraction to Claudia, which seems pretty heavy on the chemistry anyway.

  11. Josh says:

    As a gay man I don’t care about GLAAD doing this study every year on who has the majority of gay characters. GLAAD is making the LGBT community look bad. If we don’t like this or like that we are going to complain and make a big deal about it. STFU! Everyone has an opinion and a choice to air what they want and in a way they want. Its great that we r being treated close to equal but now it looks like we want to be better than everyone else. I could go on but I’m not.

  12. Dizzle says:

    This issue will always be a thorny one, sadly. I’m gay myself, but am not a fan of shoehorning gay characters in just for the sake of it. Then again, I do think the number of LGBT law enforcement officers represented on TV is woefully low, and the procedural genre is what CBS excels in. So should they introduce more gay characters to appease GLAAD? I’m not sure. Should they introduce more gay characters to reach an audience not currently being that represented on TV? Definitely.

  13. raven says:

    To be honest, I could care less…I don’t think it is hurting CBS that much. I feel like a ton of show have gay characters now….or maybe just the bagillion I watch.

    • TigerNightmare says:

      I think you meant to say you could NOT care less. If you could care less, but you don’t, it means you care.

  14. RJ says:

    Who the heck cares. CBS is the best network. CW gets first and look how crappy they are right now.

  15. JeniLee says:

    Adrianna on 90210 is indifferent? When did she date a girl? Am I forgetting something? haha

    • Dizzle says:

      Season 2…. She dated Bruce Willis’ daughter for all of 5 seconds before getting back with Navid. It was potentially even more of a waste of time than Marissa’s dalliance with Alex during season 2 of The OC.

  16. Jason says:

    I can’t believe that they mentioned House of Lies in a negative light. How they’ve handled his son has been pretty incredible in my opinion.

    • Dizzle says:

      That’s the problem with these surveys…. that sort of storyline may not be considered outside of the “there’s a gay character”, whereas one inflammatory comment (even if it’s said by a character who is meant to be a jerk, or is a comment meant to not be taken seriously) is counted against the show.

  17. Tansy says:

    For starters, they have their own channel [Logo], whereas a lot of other demos do not. Why aren’t more meth heads written in as central characters on TV, I’m sure they match gays in numbers. Why don’t we have a bigot [a la Archie Bunker] starring in a show? How about a show featuring a 3rd generation welfare mother and her 5 kids sucking off the govt. teat? I’m certain they outnumber gays.

    • Simon Jester says:

      Because advertisers don’t target meth heads, bigots, and people on welfare, you idiot.

      • Dizzle says:

        That’s what makes me laugh… this “myth” of the Pink Pound…. I’m gay and I certainly don’t have any more money than my straight friends!

  18. Sami says:

    i have to say…i do not watch a show because of how many gays are or are not in it. nor do i watch it because of how many African Americans, Catholics, or whites, etc…. are or are not in it. i watch it because i enjoy it. PERIOD!

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