The television industry, led by the broadcast networks, set a record for the number of LGBTQ characters featured on the small screen during to 2019-20 season, according to according to the annual GLAAD Where We Are On TV report.
The report, which tracks the number of LGBTQ characters on streaming services as well as cable and broadcast networks for the 2019-20 TV season, revealed that a record 10.2% of all primetime series regular characters on broadcast networks ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX and the CW were counted as LGBTQ. Along with the 90 regular series characters counted as LGBTQ, an additional 30 recurring characters were LGBTQ, according to the report.
Also on the broadcast front, GLAAD reported that LGBTQ women outnumber LGBTQ men among broadcast characters, and for the second year in a row, LGBTQ people of color outnumber white LGBTQ people.
The number of LGBTQ regular characters on scripted primetime cable programs increased slightly to 121, up by one from the previous year, according to the report. Recurring LGBTQ characters increased by six to 94 compared to the previous season. Showtime led all cable networks with 38 regular and recurring LGBTQ characters featured in primetime scripted series, followed by FX and Freeform, according to GLAAD.
On the streaming front, GLAAD reported 153 new and recurring characters on scripted series from streaming services Amazon, Hulu, and Netflix, an increase of 41 characters overall from the previous year’s total of 112. Netflix was the most prolific service for the fourth consecutive year, according to GLAAD.
While GLAAD praised the increases in LGBTQ characters across TV platforms, Megan Townsend, Director of Entertainment Research & Analysis at GLAAD said that more still needs to be done, especially on the cable TV front.
“On cable TV, just three networks account for 44 percent of all LGBTQ representation on primetime scripted series,” said Townsend. “Similarly, programming from four dedicated producers and creators who prioritize inclusion — Greg Berlanti, Lena Waithe, Ryan Murphy, and Shonda Rhimes -- accounts for 14 percent of total LGBTQ characters across broadcast, cable, and streaming originals. We hope to see all networks follow their lead, and work towards reflecting the reality of their audience and the culture.”
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R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.