GLAAD’s “Where We Are on TV” study this year found that the inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer characters is at an all-time high, with 11.9 percent of series regular characters on scripted primetime broadcast series being
This marks a significant increase from both last year’s 9.1 percent inclusion and the study’s previous high of 10.2 percent.
The 2021-2022 TV season also marks the first time lesbian characters represented the majority (40%) of LGBTQ characters on the five broadcast networks, surpassing gay men. Also this season, there are 42 regular and recurring transgender characters tracked across all broadcast, cable and streaming, up from 29 last year.
As for bisexual representation, of the 637 regular/recurring LGBTQ characters on scripted broadcast, cable and streaming programming this season, 183 (29%) are counted as bisexual+ — a slight uptick from last year, though bi+ people in actuality make up the majority (55%) of the adult LGBTQ community (per Gallup).
(NOTE: Whereas recent “Where We Are on TV” studies only surveyed the Amazon, Hulu and Netflix streaming services, this year GLAAD also tallied LGBTQ characters on Apple TV+, Disney+, HBO Max, Paramount+ and Peacock.)
Other toplines from the 40-page report, which can be read in full here….
♦ Among broadcast networks, The CW for a fourth season in a row posted the highest percentage of LGBTQ series regular characters (17.1%), followed by Fox (13.3%) and ABC (12.5%). Only NBC experienced a decrease this year (from 8.3% to 7.2%), while consistently last CBS improved sharply (from 2.9% to 6.6%).
♦ Of the 637 LGBTQ characters on scripted primetime broadcast, cable and streaming originals, 42 (or 6%) are transgender. This is an increase of 13 characters from the previous year, but a decrease of two percentage points. (🚩 On broadcast-TV, 5 of the 8 transgender characters appear on The CW, while Freeform, HBO and Showtime account for all of cable’s 8 trans characters. Among streamers, neither Disney+ nor Apple TV+ have a transgender character.)
🚩 Broadcast-TV lags behind cable/streaming when it comes to LGBTQ characters as the sole lead of a series. Exceptions include The CW’s Naomi (who is a bi teen) and Batwoman (which features a lesbian lead character as well as several queer women in the wider ensemble).
♦ On cable, the number of LGBTQ characters grew slightly, from 118 to 138 — though still a far cry from the pre-pandemic report’s tally of 215.
♦ Lesbian characters led on cable for the first time in over 15 years, accounting for 35% of LGBTQ characters — which much credit going to Showtime’s The L Word: Generation Q. On cable, gay men make up 33% of LGBTQ characters, bi account for 31%; transgender characters decreased to eight characters (from 10); there are four non-binary characters who are not transgender; and those identified as asexual went from one to zero.
🚩 Of the 138 LGBTQ characters on cable this season, 26 (or 19%) are not expected to return next year (due to cancellations, being written out etc;), while another 12 characters (9%) are returning in their show’s final season.
♦ Among cable networks, Showtime led the pack with 35 LGBTQ regular and recurring characters — almost half of which appear on The L Word. (The freshman hit Yellowjackets added four to the mix, while American Rust, Billions and Dexter: New Blood were among the other shows adding to Showtime’s tally.) Freeform follows with 15 LGBTQ characters, while the now Pose-less FX has 14. (As in previous years, nearly half of all LGBTQ characters on cable appear on just those three networks.)
♦ Streaming is the only platform this year where gay men make up the majority of LGBTQ characters (with 33%). Lesbian representation slightly decreased to 27%, while bi+ accounts for 32%. Additionally, streaming scripted originals count 26 trans characters and 11 non-binary characters who are not transgender.
♦ Among streamers, the ridiculously prolific Netflix leads with 155 regular or recurrring LGBTQ characters, followed by HBO Max (71), Amazon (36), Hulu (36) and Peacock (32). Disney+, Paramount+ and Apple TV+ — each touting 12 total LGBTQ characters or fewer — place a distant sixth through eighth.
♦ GLAAD previously called on all platforms to ensure that half of LGBTQ characters are people of color. Broadcast-TV had already achieved that goal, but this year cable shows slipped to 45%. Streaming, meanwhile, improved to 49%.
♦ GLAAD also studies all-around gender representation, and the 2021-22 season marks a record-breaking increase in women series regulars on scripted broadcast shows — though that 47% still falls shy of the actual 51% women in the U.S. (according to the Census Bureau). ABC leads with women characters (52%), while NBC is last (40%).
♦ ABC has the highest representation of POC series regulars, with 57%, followed by The CW (53%), NBC (50%), CBS (47%) and Fox (42%).
♦ Of the 775 series regular characters on broadcast-TV this year, 25% are Black — a new high. ABC leads on that front, followed by NBC, The CW, Fox and CBS.
♦ Latino representation on broadcast-TV rose this year to 8 percent, led by ABC (though that was fueled in part by the Hulu-bound Promised Land, whoops), followed by NBC, CBS, The CW and Fox.
♦ On broadcast-TV, 7 percent of characters are Asian-Pacific Islander, on par with last year. The CW leads on that front, followed by Fox, CBS and NBC (tie), and ABC.
♦ The number of characters with disabilities (2.8%) continues to be disproportionately fewer than that of the actual population (13.3% per the 2017 U.S. Census). NBC leads with 14 regular characters with disabilities (including New Amsterdam‘s Bloom, This Is Us‘ Tess and La Brea‘s Izzy), followed by ABC (4), The CW (2) and CBS/Fox (1 each).
♦ Last year, GLAAD counted three characters living with HIV, all of whom were on FX’s Pose. This season, there are just two characters with HIV — and both are recurring rather than series regulars.
As always, this is an interesting report. Also as always, a lack of distinction between leads, supporting roles, and offenseive gay joke characters hinders its usefulness.
Yeah, I noticed. It seems like everyone is gay now. I know it’s a reality show, but Heather Dubrow has two gay daughters. (RHOBH) Well, one is technically bi. So, she alone, is helping with the LGBTQ quotas.
I noticed this as well and. frankly I am sick of it .
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You should talk to someone about your bigotry. LGBTQ+ people have always existed and aren’t going anywhere.
But we are not that many
Neither are police officers, F.B.I. agents, doctors, lawyers, superheroes, time travelers, ghosts, game show contestants, etc.
None of those are a gender or sexuality though. Why depict a minority as a majority? It just looks inauthentic to everyone.
Who really cares??
I’m tired of having it forced on me – go push your failing liberal agendas elsewhere
And like clockwork, here comes the bigot.
He is not a bigot. He has a choice to not give a damn about them. We don’t want their life style pushed on us & we don;’t want politics pushed on us either. Freedom of choice goes both ways.
Is someone somehow forcing you to watch any of these shows? If so, I’d like to know how. If not, then how is it being “pushed” on you?
How do you know he is not a bigot? Are you his husband?
But no matter if he is or not, as his hyperbole reflects that of a person who is intolerant of the rights of others, and with that I take issue.
Phil demands so-called liberal TV producers and such to express their thinking elsewhere, because he feels “tired” of having it “forced” on him.
There’s much I don’t like as well, but when it comes to freedom of the media, I respect those rights.
Pray tell, how exactly is this being “forced” on you? Oh, my god, you might watch a show with a couple gay/bi/transgender characters! Oh, no, however will you live?!?!
As for not wanting politics pushed on you, you’re the one making it political by whining about having people of different sexual orientations being “forced” upon you, so….
“Freedom of choice goes both ways.”
You have absolute freedom… to change the channel. Please exercise it. Television should cater to all audiences, not exclusively your narrow perspective.
40 years ago, you’d be the person complaining about seeing Black characters on TV. But I’m guessing you wouldn’t be using the term “Black.”
No one has a RIGHT to be liked. Obviously there are people YOU don’t like. Does that make YOU a bigot?
If I don’t like them as a whole group because of their race or sexual orientation, or religion, etc, yes that makes me a bigot. But I don’t dislike people for those reasons. If I dislike someone, it is just a dislike of that one individual, for a specific reason.
It’s not bigotry. Nice try. That’s what you have been taught to say if someone doesn’t agree with your lifestyle. Pushing the LGBTQRYDA…. is used for a political agenda. Normal healthy people are sick of it being forced down their throats..
> Who really cares?
Well, obviously some people care to watch these shows, and you care not to. So what’s your problem? Why should you care about shows you don’t like? Isn’t there enough available to keep you entertained? If their isn’t, then perhaps your expectations are too high?
Personally, I can relate to your thinking, as I’m just looking to entertained, yet when I like a series it’s usually no matter to me if a character happens to be LGBTQ.
As for series with a large focus on LGBTQ issues, those are not for me, so I simply don’t watch them. Just the same of how I’m not a fan of soap operas, reality shows, wrestling, and Fox News.
I follow 45 series right now, and none of them have much of any agendas that ruin my entertainment experience. The only series I dropped this season was Star Trek Discovery, perhaps in part because of the increasing LGBTQ focus, but clearly more so because I found it boring.
As for the claim that you are a bigot, I don’t see any evidence of that. But playing the victim here seems rather silly to me, as your feelings of entitlement are conflicting with the freedoms we all share.
You would be shocked to see how many conservatives are part of the LGBTQ community but are on the DL. Gays for Trump is not a myth. Open your eyes and stop blaming liberals for all the things you can’t tolerate.
Well Trump had the first openly gay cabinet member in American history. I think there is a difference in being lgbtq and wanting shows to virtue signal, meet quotas or put identity politics over good story telling. I think you can find plenty of lgbtq, conservative and liberal, that don’t want that. Not all of these shows are probably doing that though. If it fits the show and is organic then it seems like it wouldn’t matter.
THANK YOU, Shawn! Well said!
but he also wanted to kick trans people out of the military and his other polices were hostile to lgbtq
African Americans are just 13.4% of US population but represented by 25% in tv shows? Asians just 5.9% and represented by 7% on TV, Hispanics are 18% and yet there’s outcry.
AA rep seems like a lot more than 25%. Also, with the amount of LGBTQ on TV you would think almost half the US population of the world is LGBTQ.
Well, to watch American TV you’d also think 95% of Americans are middle or upper-middle class, are employed, well-dressed, reasonably well-educated, have enough food in the fridge, own a decent car, don’t have health problems, and live in eternally clean homes.
If TV entertainment were to portray reality, the number of viewers would plummet.
Wikipedia quotes the most recent Gallup poll on the subject indicating 5.6% of the populace is LGBTQ, suggesting over-representation. Many argue its become so trendy to be “bi” or “queer” that social desirability bias inflates the poll numbers (just as its inflated the numbers on TV to the point of over-representation, with the CW having over 3 times as many as in the populace).
Many in the populace have distorted views of how the prevalence of such people, perhaps due to TV and a lobbying group that will likely keep whining until they get most characters portrayed as LGBTQ and ensure they disparage anyone who isn’t as uncool.
re: “GLAAD previously called on all platforms to ensure that half of LGBTQ characters are people of color.”
That would be a slight over-representation compared to US demographics, with the US being 61.6% white or 57% non-Latino white according to wikipedia’s census stats.
I just saw an article online a few minutes ago with a poll stating that now 7.1% of the population identifies as LGBTQA+. So if that’s the case, then that Wikipedia info will need to be updated.
But that percentage is never going to be in a fixed state, because as more and more people feel comfortable coming out, as well as discovering their sexuality, that number will likely continue to rise in the decades to come.
And the fact you think this is all about being “trendy”, and put bi and queer in quotes, and complain about how people will continue to disparage anyone, says a lot about how much understanding and learning you could stand to do on this topic. For you and anyone else whining about how “overrepresented” this community is in the media, citing demographics and statistics and whatnot, will simply say to you what minorities have to hear every single time they point out how unrealistic it is to have an all white, all straight cast on TV: “it’s just fiction! It doesn’t have to be realistic!”
When I referred to people seeing it as “trendy” to identify as “bi” and “queer”: I put quotes around as part of suggesting the labels were sometimes being used questionably as an attention seeking or conformist mechanism by those who didn’t truly belong to those groups. If you don’t think its happening: it is you who need to learn more about the situation. I recall one recent sitcom where a high school kid pretended to be “pansexual” to fit in and needed to eventually come clean and apologize for being “weirdly” straight.
It seems like minorities who suffered through discrimination should be the ones upset with others who didn’t who are jumping on the band wagon due to acceptance.
Some people seem to have trouble grasping that although for some still as yet understood reason evolution did lead to some % of people being attracted to the same sex: species evolved to be overwhelmingly heterosexual or they wouldn’t have survived.
In terms of “all white, all straight cast”: its unfortunate that if you only have a few main characters: if they were representative of the US population most of them would be straight white people.
Should also mention daytime shows featuring LGBTQ characters. The Young and the Restless and Days of Our Lives have ongoing gay/lesbian characters in major roles.
GLAAD shares no data points re Daytime TV, but you can find their write-up about GH, Y&R et al on Page 42 of the report.
So going by this logic, broadcast TV MUST REDUCE black representation from 25% to 13.4% to match the actual population in the U.S.
I just wish they had more gay men in shows. Almost every woman in batwoman is a lesbian (which is fine with me) but how many shoes actually have a gay male lead character. Only ones I can think of are love victor (which is ending) and a few foreign shows on Netflix. Otherwise not much representation.
Also forgot it takes two on hbo max
The Gilded Age has a gay couple (men), one of which is a main character, at least for now.
As a heterosexual, I’ve never been a fan of watching romantic gay men, but I’m liking The Gilded Age, and am now interested in seeing how this story develops with these men, who have to hide who they are.
I have “endured” watching hundreds of heterosexual characters on TV over my 76 years, and, frankly, as a lesbian, it is nice to see a few of my own. For those of you who are just fed up with having LGBT characters forced on your viewing habits, imagine how our community has felt all these years being “forced” to watch heterosexuals. Get over it! You are not going to perish seeing a few different characters. And, you can always change the channel. We never had that option
I’m heterosexual, and I’m not a fan of LGBTQ focused TV, as much of it is simply not for me. But no matter, as there’s still A LOT for me to watch.
I have nothing to complain about with TV, and I’m glad you have found some TV you can relate to more.
Also, living in a world that is mostly heterosexuals.
Once upon a time black characters were
just tokens in tv shows but that has changed and progressed in the right direction.
Now it’s lgbt characters’ turn to be tokens. In most tv shows, queer representation is mainly tokenism…just to tick a box that “Yep we have a black lesbian”. With the exception of a few shows, these lgbt characters and their arcs contribute nothing substantial to the central plots. In other words, with or without the lgbt characters, nothing changes with the show or it’s main storylines.
Now that representation on TV exceeds the actual percentage of LGBTQ in the US population (7.1%, according to a recent Gallup poll), can they rest on their laurels and stop trying to force this on everyone else?
Now that representation on TV exceeds the actual percentage of straight cisgender people in the US population (92.9%, according to a recent Gallup poll), can they rest on their laurels and stop trying to force this on everyone else?
Good news: they are not forcing it on us! In case you didn’t know, you don’t have to watch these shows.
Also, you share the same freedom of opportunity to produce your own show… well, unless you live in Iran or the like.
And when people stop watching, what do you think the networks’ reaction will be? Or the advertisers?
It won’t be “we want more!”
“The sky is falling!” – Kevin M
In a sense, we ARE being forced to watch these shows because people will then complain that an LGBT has not popped up yet, forcing a change to comply with their demands.
“Forcing” a change? Or encouraging TV writers to say, “hey, there’s an untapped audience segment we could reaching?”
If this were the mid-70s, you’d be the person whining about being “forced” to watch black people when George Jefferson was introduced on All in the Family.
Apparently some TVLine commenters endure very sad, boring and limited existences. Thankfully, the networks/streaming services realize how important diversity and inclusion is – we can only hope for more ‘strength in numbers.’ I also can’t help but wonder what pearl clutchers do nowadays whenever they see a rainbow in the sky. Has that been ‘tainted’ for them, too? At least they still have Little House on the Prairie reruns.
There is such a thing as overexposure. When viewers think that they are being gaslighted about the actual numbers of LGBTQ in the world, they may not have the response you want.
“More” is not always better.
There’s a difference between the percentage of LGBTQ representation across all scripted TV shows and any show’s portrayal of the percentage of LGBTQ people in society within the context of a given show. For example, of the five main regular characters in “Batwoman”, two are LGBTQ, but the show’s fictional Gotham City isn’t portrayed as having an unusually high LGBTQ population percentage in comparison to comparable actual large U.S. cities.
There are more LGBTQ characters on TV than Trump-supporting characters, when 75 million people voted for the man. I’m going to bet that is a larger number than the LGBTQ contingent.
No, I didn’t vote for him, but the cheering seems to be fairly biased.
Yup, I’ve never voted for Trump or a GOP presidential candidate: but such people are part of society and a large market.
If someone has atypical musical tastes: they don’t expect most mainstream entertainment to cater to them. They gather they are a niche audience that only a minority will relate to and therefore there may only be a minority of shows that cater to their tastes. For better take all, usually markets tend towards “winner take all”. In this age of streaming that shouldn’t be an issue as long as their are enough shows that cater to minority tastes.
I think part of the issue is that many people are fine with minorities being represented closer to the actual demographics of the country: but that the story lines tend to go out of their way to emphasize things that minorities will relate to that the larger audience won’t. They are trying to let niche interests take over the larger market share and then scream bloody murder that someone must be against those minorities if they dare to object to devoting undue attention to them.
It seems like the business people have let the creative types create essentially “woke privilege” where their demands are met to provide entertainment that caters to them by default regardless of the likely impact on viewership (as I suspect has impacted many CW shows compared to what might have been).
If they toned things down and didn’t get so “woke” and just treated these characters as part of the mix or real life rather than needing everything to revolve around them: they might get more mainstream viewers who pick up on the acceptance and take it for granted. Instead they risk a backlash by going overboard.
I couldn’t agree more. I do not mind LGBT characters but I do hate tokenism.
How do you surmise the assertion in your first sentence? Additionally, what about factoring in the existence or possibility of LGBTQ people in TV show settings other than modern-day, real-world America?
Just look at the percentage of LGBT series regulars on each network then juxtapose the ratings for each network. It really says a lot. The CW has the most with 17.1% and the lowest ratings and CBS has the least with the highest ratings. Doesn’t take a genius.
Correlation does not equal causation. Surprised you need this explained.
Wait… no, I’m not.
Wondering if there is an official Simon Jester Fan Club?
Asking for a friend (ahem).
Yeah it’s called political/token inclusion and has nothing to do with actual talent & being the right fit for the role.
Miscasting is at an all-time high and it’s ruined countless projects already.
PS: I’m a gay man and even I am sick of this.
I think it’s really lame and unwatchable when things are done on shows just to virtue signal or fir a quota; also when shows have people focusing more on their identity instead of their actual character. If having characters that are not straight fits the story and it’s organic then it doesn’t affect the show negatively. If they are going to celebrate having a lot of bi characters then they should also tell how many of the characters are female; probably about 99%. That is nothing new. You can go back the last several decades and find tons of shows were a female character was, or at least alluded to being bi or having same sex relationships, especially from the late 80’s on up. It’s always been rare to do the the same with men. I remember a funny scene from Maried With Children though; were Kelly was dating a high school QB that was really dumb and misunderstood something Al said about his high school team player days and playing switch positions; the QB says, “yeah, a lot of guys on the team swing both ways too, but not me. I just like the ladies.” I think that episode probably first aired in 1989.
Saw someone complaining there was a rainbow flag in Dying Light 2 recently (It’s a video game), so we still have a long way to go! But then again some were complaining they had to have a black girlfriend in the game (voice acted by Rosario Dawson, they should be so lucky!). Maybe there’s no hope for humanity. Certainly no hope for America, never have I seen the country so divided, so split by hate and intolerance with no empathy or compassion for each other’s differences.
No, these people are not bigoted; just savvy. They know when inclusivity is organic and they can tell when it is tokenism.
Whenever someone says a minority group’s presence is “everywhere” or “too much” or compares representation numbers with population percentages, I always wonder what amount of visibility the critic *would* find comfortable. Bet it’s pretty close to zero.
Why it is bothersome to see people who aren’t just like you?
I have to echo Sue – we’ve been “forced” to watch nothing but heterosexuals on TV for more than half a century. The rare lesbian character was either evil, pathetic, or insane. Gay men were shown as people to be laughed at.
Sure, a fair amount of uptick in LGBTQ characters is token, and thus annoying, but I still cheer the expectation of inclusion. It means LGBTQ writers, directors, producers & actors have more room to tell the stories they want to. That counts for a lot.
Don’t like something? Don’t watch.
I agree with you completely. I can’t stand shows that use LGBT characters as tokens so I do not watch. On the other hand when the characters feel organic and are more than just their sexaul identity, that is how it should be. For example Sweet Magnolias has several LGBT characters which have never once said “hey I’m gay” they don’t have to. It’s obvious when a male character says my husband. They have storylines that do not revolve around their sexuality. That is how you do it right. There are other examples of shows with LGBT characters with substance.
Perhaps they could start to write in some straight white male roles once in a while. I know it’s all the rage for everyone to be gay, but the few of us that are left would like to be represented.
Yes. That’s the problem with TV. There are no straight white male leads anymore. Shows like Ordinary Joe, Yellowstone, The Resident, 1883, This Is Us, Pam and Tommy, 911 Lone Star, New Amsterdam, Home Economics, Dopesick, The Only Murders in the Building, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, NCIS, Law and Order Organized Crime, The Good Doctor, etc. are all figments of our collective imagination.
The problem is that so many shows are putting a token lgbqt+ character in to get their support and it is often just till the show is off the ground. The most obvious one at the moment is s.w.a.t. She started as a lesbian looking for a relationship, then was bi in the so called triad relationship and now is mainly all over street and doesn’t date women anymore unless it is to go ‘oh look we still have a lgbtq+ character’ Add to that the constant religious stuff from Deakin and it is like a sermon every time it is on. So fake.
Well just means I will not be watchi TV with this offensive LGBT content! Will not be going to movies because not about to spend money on a movie with this crap! And for all those who want to call me racist or bigot just remember inclusive means you have to include all people! Not just the kiss asses!
They still bury their gays – so how is that progress really? LGBTQ characters are still relegated to stereotypes
I agree I am tired of it being pushed down our throats. It is way over the top of representation.