GLAAD Report: LGBT Representation on TV Is Up, But Still Very White


GLAAD’s “Where We Are on TV” report this year shows strides being made in the number of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) characters on TV, while shining a spotlight on the need for greater diversity in those representations.

Broadcast TV’s representation of LGBT characters this year stands at 4 percent (or 35 out of 881 series regular roles), an increase of a tenth of a percent vs. the previous measuring period. Broadcast TV also will have 35 recurring LGBT characters.

Cable TV went from 64 to 84 series regular LGBT characters plus an additional 58 recurring. (ABC Family and Showtime are the most inclusive, with 18 LGBT characters each.) Streaming services such as Hulu, Netflix and Amazon add 43 regulars plus 16 recurring.

On broadcast TV, lesbians make up 33 percent of the LGBT community (up 5 percent YOY) while bisexuals account for 20 percent. Of note, broadcast TV currently offers zero transgender characters, even on a recurring basis, while cable has three recurring trans characters. Streaming services total four transgender characters, with two being leads (on Transparent and Sense8).

GLAAD’s report points out that while LGBT representation is up slightly, it is still dominantly white, with 69 percent (on broadcast), 71 percent (cable) and 73 percent (streaming) landing in that category.

The “Where We Are on TV” report also took stock of the representation of blacks and other people of color. This year, 16 percent of TV characters (or 145 total) are black, marking an all-time high — though females are underrepresented, making up 43 percent of that group (versus 51 percent of the actual population).

This year, the representation of people of color climbed to 33 percent, a six point jump from last season and a full 10 points over two years ago. NBC fares best with 41 percent, while The CW (29 percent) and CBS (25 percent) place fourth and fifth among broadcasters.

TV’s representation of women rose three points this year, with 43 percent of series regulars being female — though the country’s population is 51 percent female.

One last observation to cite from the report: TV’s representation of characters living with a disability declined, from 1.4 percent to 0.9.

The “Where We Are on TV” report‘s forecasts for the 2015-16 TV season are based on scripted series which air or are expected to air in primetime between June 1, 2015 and May 31, 2016.

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