LGBTQ representation on TV improving says GLAAD
Where are we on TV? GLAAD answers this question every year with a report on LGBTQ representation on television. They do an annual count on the number of LGBTQ characters on broadcast and cable networks and streaming services.
2017 to 2018 TV season numbers show an overall improvement in LGBTQ representation with results at an all-time high. Even so, diverse and complex LGBTQ characters are still inadequately represented.
Best year ever for LGBTQ representation on TV
The study found that LGBTQ representation on broadcast primetime TV this season is at 6.4 percent. This is a big jump from 4.8 percent last year and so far the highest percentage GLAAD has found in the history of this report.
On broadcast TV, 58 out of 901 regular characters were identified as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and/or queer.
On cable TV, LGBTQ representation increased with a markup on the total number of characters from 142 last year to 173 this year. Breaking it down, the number of regular LGBTQ characters increased to 103 and the number of recurring LGBTQ characters increased to 70.
On streaming services like Amazon, Hulu, and Netflix, LGBTQ representation has a minimal increase with a markup on the total number of characters from 65 last year to 70 this year. Breaking it down, the number of regular LGBTQ characters increased to 51 and the number of recurring LGBTQ characters increased to 19.
Diversity in LGBTQ characters
75 women and 18 men make up the number of bisexual+ characters on all broadcast, cable, and streaming platforms. Overall, it’s 28 percent of all the LGBTQ characters counted. This reflects a slight decrease from last year.
Nine trans women, four trans men, and four non-binary completes the number of transgender characters across all platforms. The total is 17 regular and recurring transgender characters. GLAAD notes that this year is the first time that non-binary characters were represented.
Another first is the representation of asexual characters on TV. GLAAD found one asexual character in Freeform’s Shadowhunters and another in Netflix’s BoJack Horseman. There are none on broadcast TV. They mentioned that CW’s Riverdale doesn’t show Jughead’s character as asexual while he originally is in the Archie Comics.
The report reveals the lack of racial diversity in the LGBTQ characters that do exist on TV. On streaming services, 77 percent of LGBTQ characters are white. This shows a two percent drop from last year.
Women are underrepresented, making up only 43 percent of the regular broadcast TV characters. This shows a one percent drop from last year. Same is true for Americans with disabilities, which is still very much underrepresented despite the slight increase to 1.8 percent of the regular broadcast TV characters.
We need more diverse LGBTQ characters on TV
Seeing the lack of diversity makes it hard to celebrate the fact that the number of LGBTQ representation on TV has increased.
Aside from being underrepresented, LGBT characters that do exist on TV are often inaccurately portrayed. It sometimes seems like we should be happy that at least now, not all lesbian characters die a gruesome death on TV.