ABC Family, HBO and MTV Lead GLAAD's Annual LGBT Inclusion Study; CW Has No Regular LGBT Characters

GLAAD TV Report 2014

GLAAD on Wednesday released its Network Responsibility Index, an annual study of LGBT representation on television. For the first time, three networks were awarded the grade of “Excellent.”

ABC Family, HBO and MTV all earned top marks, making this the first time the LGBT advocacy group has awarded that high honor to three networks. Achieving an “Excellent” grade will be more difficult in the future, however, as networks will now be required to include significant content with specifically transgender characters in order to be eligible.

Moving down the line, ABC, The CW, Fox, NBC, FX and Showtime are all ranked as “Good,” while CBS, TLC and USA are simply “Adequate.”

And most in need of improvement are A&E, History and TNT, all of which fall under the “Failing” category.

GLAAD also released this year’s “Where We Are on TV” report, which tracks the exact number of regular and recurring LGBT characters on television. According to the report, 3.9 percent of broadcast TV characters played by series regulars will be LGBT. Though this is up 0.6 percent from last year, it’s still shy of 2012’s 4.4 percent.

Among broadcast networks, Fox had the highest percentage (6.5) of LGBT characters, including those on freshman series Gotham and Red Band Society and the upcoming Mulaney, Backstrom and Empire. ABC, which tied for first last year, slipped a spot, with 4.5 percent, followed by NBC (improving on 2013’s last-place finish, with 3.8 percent), CBS (3.2 percent) and The CW, which counts zero LGBT characters among its 89 series regular roles.

On the cable front, HBO came out on top, with 15 regular or recurring LGBT characters current or expected. ABC Family and Showtime account for 13 each, followed by Syfy (11), FX (10) and MTV (8).

To see the complete Network Responsibility Index and “Where We Are on TV” report, head to GLAAD’s official website.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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74 Comments
  1. Kemiri says:

    Who cares? I certainly don’t. I don’t want TV shows that feature two guys kissing each other. It’s sickening and disgusting and unnatural.

    • Luke says:

      “Who cares” and yet u took the time to read a comment.

      • dj says:

        When you are scrolling through the articles on the page, you can’t help but see the headline. I saw it, made a comment, but never read the article.

    • Dude says:

      Who cares? I certainly don’t. I find it disgusting and it angers me which is definitely not caring.

    • Mark says:

      Here’s a suggestion: Don’t watch them.

    • You know what its people like you that make our struggle so hard. LGBT people are real people. I could turn around and say I don’t want to see a man and woman kiss on screen. Equality isn’t real as long as we have attitudes like yours to deal with.

    • Katherine215 says:

      It’s sickening and disgusting and unnatural for a human being to have such hate for another person because of their sexual orientation, and to feel no shame whatsoever at broadcasting it to the public. You turn my stomach far more than two people of the same sex kissing ever could.

    • lunareclipse says:

      Uh, okay, so you don’t want Game of Thrones, Orange is the New Black, Breaking Bad…
      Wow, I’m sure they’re gonna be completely DEVASTATED by losing you.

    • Kate says:

      You’re ridiculous.

    • Josh Emerson says:

      The only thing sickening and disgusting is you.

    • Angela says:

      Well, too bad for you, I guess-welcome to the 21st century, where more and more people are thankfully not sharing your views. I can think of a ton of other things in this world much more sickening and disgusting than two men or two women kissing.

  2. dj says:

    I couldn’t care less about gays/lesbians. It’s their choice, however, I don’t see any reason to single them out for awards. It’s ridiculous.

    • Mark says:

      Spoken like a straight white guy

      • dj says:

        Ha..I am a straight white girl who said I couldn’t care less about gay people. I have gay friends and a gay brother who would be the first to say he thinks this is stupid.

      • Brian says:

        I’m a gay guy who agrees with the straight guy…why do we feel the need to give awards to networks for having gay characters? We want the same rights as everyone else yet the gay community feels the need to have these special awards because one network has more gay characters then the other. PLEASE. I grew up on 80’s sitcoms that barely had any gay characters and I turned out fine. I’m still gay despite not having gay characters on TV growing up.

        • nicole says:

          Well lucky you, unfortunately the world does not revolve around you, if these representations can help gay kids to make their lives better or the world less hateful, why not?

    • bar says:

      Also, these aren’t awards

  3. Mark says:

    Are they ever going to start evaluating based on the quality of depiction of these characters? Fox sucks at it.

    • Chris says:

      True. Fox does suck at it.

    • Of all of the people making complaints, this is the only legitimate one. It’s true that this only counts the number, not the “quality” of the representation and it would be nice if there were more data about how GLBT characters are turning up on TV.

      As for people who say they don’t care, or why do we need these (or worse) – clearly you’re not aware of statistics of gay teen suicides or the beating of the couple in Philadelphia, etc. It would be great to say that more inclusivity and diversity isn’t needed, but let’s be honest – TV is white, straight and middle to upper class and there’s a lot more variety in the world that can and should be represented.

      • Angela says:

        It would be great to say that more inclusivity and diversity isn’t needed, but let’s be honest – TV is white, straight and middle to upper class and there’s a lot more variety in the world that can and should be represented.
        This. The world is a diverse place, why shouldn’t we see more of that in all areas of our lives, entertainment included? There’s all sorts of new and interesting stories to tell. I really don’t get why some people get all bent out of shape at the very idea of including more realistic, varied, diverse characters on TV.

  4. What about Sara on Arrow? Also, who’s gay on gotham?

  5. Zin Li says:

    Homosexual advocates insist that homosexual sex is not really dangerous. Ask all the founders of GLAAD (Gays & Lesbians Association against Disagreement). Please take a look this little piece attached that should make everyone think. These are all former leaders of GLAAD. You can Google their names with or without the word “AIDs” next to it and you will see the confirmation of these tragic deaths. GLAAD President Sarah Kate Ellis leads the charge against free speech by successfully attacking Phil Robertson. Since GLAAD has only been around since 1985, I woonder what the past “founding fathers” would say about her new tactics. Sadly they are no longer with us.

    Gregory Kolovaks- Cofounder of GLAAD -Dead- AIDS

    Vito Ruso- Cofounder of GLAAD-Dead-AIDS

    Craig J.Davidson-Executive Director- Dead-AIDS

    Allen Barnett-Dead- AIDS

    Darrell Yates Rist-Dead-AIDS

    James W.Owles-Dead- AIDS

    Stephen Donaldson –Dead- AIDS

    Jeffrey Sevick –Dead- AIDS

    Sean Sasser-Dead-AIDS

    Martin Callen-Dead-AIDS

    Wallace Abrams-Dead-AIDS

  6. i never understood this GLAAD report. I am pro gay and have many friends that are gay and they dont even understand why this report is being done. Why should networks be shamed into putting a gay person on their show? If the plot necessitates there being a gay person in it by all means do it!! Don’t force it!! Needs to be organic.

    • You’re pro gay? You do realize this isn’t abortion or gun control right?

    • TinLV says:

      Right. There is such pressure nowadays to include gays/lesbians in every show. Why ? In real life, there is not a gay person in every group. There are more in some circles, none in others. If it makes sense to the show to have someone be gay, fine, bring it on. If a character was gay in the source material ( since so many shows are based on other mediums), then stay true to the source. But inserting a gay character just to be PC isn’t necessary and doesn’t always improve the show. I am a straight female and I have had gay friends, so I support the LGBT community in things that matter. I just don’t think it matters if there isn’t a gay character on a TV show.

      • Somewhere in a cave says:

        Yeah. Too many gays, blacks, latinos and jews forced into tv shows. So PC. Like wtf, if it brings nothing to the general storylines there’s no need for it. Too many women are portrayed strong and able to deal with their problems without a man. Even asians are slowly gaining screentime. Sneaky. Next thing you know there will be wheelchairs, down and asperger’s all over our screens. Who cares? With all that “diversity” scripted tv is doomed, I tell you.

    • bar says:

      If it was organic then the amount of gay characters on television would be about 8%, which would match the actual world.

    • Heather says:

      I think the reason why it’s important is because visibility matters. It might not make a huge difference to you, or your friends, who already have out LGBT people in their lives that they care about, but it might have an impact on people that don’t. Having LGBT characters on mainstream TV shows can help with acceptance of LGBT people in real life by normalizing their existence in popular culture. I also definitely agree with you that the characters shouldn’t just be tokens, or ratings stunts.

  7. Tim says:

    No problems with anyone who lives that way and I support them entirely but the fact that there’s a report that singles out shows for not having characters representing their community is just wrong. isn’t the whole point to treat/view them the same? Forcing it to me is just as disrespectful if not more than not having the characters represented at all.

    • murley says:

      So maybe when people (or, you know, the goverenment) DOES actually treat them the same, there won’t be a need for things like this.

    • Steph C says:

      They aren’t forcing them to do anything, the networks don’t have to add an LGBT character if they don’t want to.GLADD is just making a report just like a latino, African American, Asian, jewish, Christian etc organization could also do. After all their whole mission is “Promotes fair and accurate representation of gay people in the media”. The world is very diverse and American TV shows are mainly straight white people, they mainly tell one story.

  8. Meg says:

    History got a bad report. I am sorry, the Hatsfield and the McCoys were from west virginia (closet territory during the period of examination) and that Vikings (although definitely could have GLAAD members, again, very closeted). So what is History to do? “Fabulous Pawn Shop” were GLAAD goes hunting. Not trying to be insensitive, and I would certainly watch a history special on the closeted GLAAD presence in DC during the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Civil War, the Spanish/American War, WWI, WWII, Korea or Vietnam. But I think someone in Academia has to publish a puff piece for the writers in Hollywood to make a special.

    Also, why isn’t PBS ranked in any form?

  9. Jamie says:

    I watch a show for quality and don’t really care if it has any LGBT characters or not.

  10. Drew says:

    Okay, now we need a study of how many redheads are on each network. How many lefties? How many Christians? Jews? How many people who can do that tongue roll thing? How many people who thought they might have cancer but wound up not having cancer?

    Studies like this are silly. People whine about that group that list all of the immoral shows on TV, and then act like this one is perfectly normal. I guess both matter to some people, but to a lot of us, they look stupid.

    • Angela says:

      Yeeeeeeah, except that nobody is making it illegal in this country to be Christian, or Jewish, or a lefty, or so on. Considering gay people still have legit rights they’re fighting for in many areas of this country, it makes a little bit more sense that they’d be interested in anything that helps promote showing them as equal human beings worthy of respect, attention, and support, instead of shaming them and hiding them away for their “sins”. The more comfortable people are with seeing gay people, be it on TV or in movies or in high ranking positions or whatever, the more likely they’ll be to support any laws that help give gay people the equal rights they deserve.

      • Drew says:

        It’s no more illegal to be gay than it is to be Christian, and Christians have to fight for their rights to practice their religion all the time. Kids get sent home from school for wearing crosses or saying a prayer. Businesses are sued for not wanting to participate in activities that violate their religious beliefs, and are forced to shut down when the judges side with the people who would force them to take part in such activities.
        Redheads are constantly made fun of and bullied. Ever hear of “Kick a Ginger Day”? Fun!
        Everyone is fighting some battle in this world. And you might think that putting as many gay characters on TV as is humanly possible will make them more normal to the general public, but it’s not true. Unless those characters are of good quality and not just token gay characters, the public will feel more inclined to dislike those characters and reject the cause that forced those characters upon them in the first place. You want to make a difference? Have a character who happens to be gay if the story calls for it. Considering the fact that about 3% of the population is gay, the reality is that gay characters don’t belong in every story any more than a redhead should be forced into every story.

  11. every single show needs to present a black character, gay character, male character and female character. That’s how good television is done. There has to be different people. We can’t all be straight and white. There’s gotta be a big palette of characters. A show with the same characters doing nothing but have meaningless drama is just bold and stupid if you ask me.

  12. Ross says:

    I love that the comments on this article are basically the best argument for why lists like this are needed. If left to their own devises tv would still just be a bunch of straight white people pretending to have actual problems in their lives.

  13. The comments for this report are the same every year and I can’t help but think that it’d be more productive for GLAAD to release a report analyzing the positive and negative depictions of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender characters rather than just releasing arbitrary numbers. Shouldn’t GLAAD be more interested in ending the perpetuation of stereotypes rather than simply trying give incentive for each network to meet some imaginary quota. I mean, FOX gets credit for having lesbian characters on Red Band Society but the characters in question are Kara’s terribly offensive lesbian power mom stereotypes that are more an embarrassment to all creative thought and good taste than some sort of bench mark of progressivism. With the last CDC/NHIS report indicating that the LGBT community represents less than 3% of the U.S. population, I think trying to set a quota is a bit ridiculous. The concern should be about breaking stereotypes; this report just seems like a distraction.

  14. Dennis says:

    That’s interesting because one of CW’s star producers is gay– Greg Berlanti!

  15. Everything thinks that Dean and Castiel are a couple? Does that count?

  16. leena says:

    Sara is a recurring-im-sure-to-be-regular-soon character on Arrow and she’s bi.

  17. Michael says:

    It’s not counting everyone; I can think of four series off the top of my head (Supernatural, Arrow, Orange is the New Black, and Transamerica) that it’s not including. – It’s not counting online streaming series, which accounts for the last two – but it should tally that information up, as well, to be a more accurate report. Streaming shows are definitely more diverse.

  18. Ella says:

    What are they talking about?! Dean Winchester is totally bisexual ;)

  19. Kira says:

    I love that people are so blind in their hatred that they didn’t even read that this is an inclusion study, not awards. For everyone who is “disgusted” by the depiction OF LGBT characters or don’t understand why we need this study in the first place, then your are a part of the problem. You think you’re tired of hearing about issues “these people” face, try living it everyday with almost no inclusion or consideration by mainstream society. If they can do that, you can deal with two guys kissing. If not, don’t watch.

  20. Nick says:

    You shouldn’t compromise a show creatively just to add an LGBT character. If it fits, great, I have no qualms with it, but if it doesn’t fit, they shouldn’t force it.

  21. tsevca says:

    I fully support people trying to give homosexuals equal rights, but this is the complete opposite. Not everyone knows someone who is gay. Actions like these only succeed this way – gay characters on TV are forced and most of the time obnoxious people. It´s like creators wrote the show and then remembered they have to have homosexual character, so wrote some in hurry, but just don´t realize that it isn´t 1990, being gay isn´t enough for a character to be interesting. Then they found someone to be a couple with them, but then they choose an actor who has much better chemistry with someone of opposite sex (like glorified Faking it) or they destroy amazing couple to make character already there gay and instead of this great character put them with character that is horrible (typical case of Willow). How To Get Away With Murder is one of the few shows where they managed to write a gay character that seems natural and not forced by script, plus actually likeable.
    But then articles like this one come out and every show that doesn´t have half its cast homosexual seems homophobic. In USA, the number that is the newest and the most occurate from what I found (not some great research, just to have a number) says 4,9% Americans are gay. I´m sorry, but with this number it isn´t realistic to have so many gay characters. That´s just positive discrimination.