The advocacy group GLAAD has given the CW network high marks among broadcast outlets for its portrayal of gay and lesbian characters. Meanwhile, cable networks Showtime, ABC Family, TNT and HBO all were given a favorable rating by the group.
The number of gay and lesbian images on TV held steady this year. But the range of impressions continued to grow, with those representations increasingly presented in a matter-of-fact manner rather than as curiosities, GLAAD found in its annual Network Responsibility Index. But two-thirds of all gay-and-lesbian-inclusive hours showcased white people, the study found, prompting GLAAD to call for networks to recognize a broader diversity within the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
“Americans expect to see their off-screen worlds represented onscreen, and today more than ever that includes LGBT people and families,” said GLAAD president Herndon Graddick.
He pointed to the family of gay couple Mitchell and Cameron on ABC’s Modern Family and to Emily, a teen who came out as a lesbian on ABC Family’s Pretty Little Liars.
They not only indicate “growing acceptance of our community,” Graddick said, “but have found praise from viewers and critics alike at a time when visibility and acceptance of LGBT people is at an all-time high.”
Conducted for the sixth year by the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, the study tracked original prime-time programming on 10 major cable networks as well as the five major broadcast networks.
Behind broadcast front-runner CW (with gay-and-lesbian-inclusive hours at 29 percent), ABC and Fox swapped places from last year, ranking second and third place, respectively. NBC remained in fourth place. For the fourth year in a row, CBS held last place, the study found, with only 8 percent.
Among cable networks, former top-ranked MTV was placed with FX, TLC and USA as only “adequate.”
But FX saw the biggest increase over last year, with its percentage of gay-and-lesbian-inclusive hours rising from 19 percent to 34 percent, thanks to programs like American Horror Story and Archer.
Among the highlights in transgender images this year, GLAAD cited Chaz Bono’s appearance as a contestant on ABC’s Dancing With the Stars. “His very candid appearance on the program taught many that transgender Americans deserve respect and acceptance,” Graddick said.