GLAAD Tidings – TV is Telling More LGBTQ Stories Than Ever Annual Report Finds

The findings of GLAAD’s Where We Are on TV Report – 2019 were revealed on Thursday November 7th. The study analyses the diversity of the 2019-20 television season on US networks and LGBTQ representation on cable and original programming on the major streaming services. The largely positive results were hailed by some on social media as a “rainbow wave”.

Some of the major findings of GLAAD’s annual study included the highest ever percentage of LGBTQ regular characters on primetime programming in the fifteen year history of the report; there was an increase in the number of LGBTQ characters on US cable TV to 215; the streaming services Amazon, Hulu, and Netflix were found to have a total of 153 LGBTQ characters. An increase in bisexual+ and transgender characters was reported, while racial diversity among LGBTQ characters was also found to have increased on broadcast and cable (though decreased on streaming originals). Although this year’s report found a record high number of LGBTQ characters with a disability, it is still far from an accurate reflection of the US population.

Netflix’s Special

In her introduction to this year’s report, GLAAD’s President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis set out a challenge to the television industry: “GLAAD is calling
on the industry to ensure that 20 percent of series regular
characters on primetime scripted broadcast series are LGBTQ
by 2025. Further, we would challenge all platforms to make
sure that within the next two years, half of LGBTQ characters
on every platform are people of color. While broadcast has
actually hit this mark two years in a row, cable and streaming
have yet to reach this goal. These two steps are key moves
towards ensuring that entertainment reflects the world in which
it is created and the audience who consumes it.”

GLAAD is the world’s largest LGBTQ media advocacy organization. Below are some of the most significant findings of this year’s TV report, which can be found here.

Of the 879 regular characters expected to appear on broadcast scripted primetime programming this season, 90 (10.2%) were identified as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and/or queer. This is the highest percentage GLAAD has found in the fifteen years this report has counted all broadcast series regulars. There were an additional 30 recurring LGBTQ characters.

The number of regular LGBTQ characters counted on scripted primetime cable increased to 121, while recurring characters increased to 94, making for 215 characters.

There were 109 LGBTQ regular characters counted in original scripted series on the streaming services Amazon, Hulu, and Netflix as well as 44 recurring characters, for a total of 153 LGBTQ characters.

Bisexual+ characters make up 26 percent of the LGBTQ characters tracked across all platforms (broadcast, cable, streaming originals), a slight decrease in percentage from last year, but up to 128 characters from 117 in the previous report. The numbers still skew toward women, though there was an increase in bi+ men this year (90 women, 36 men, and two non-binary characters).

This year, there are 38 regular and recurring transgender characters tracked across all three platforms, up from 26 last year. Of those, 21 are trans women, 12 are trans men, and five are non-binary characters.

Racial diversity of LGBTQ characters increased on broadcast and cable, but decreased on streaming originals. For the second year in a row, LGBTQ characters of color outnumber white LGBTQ characters on broadcast television, 52 percent to 48 percent. 47 percent of all series regulars on broadcast scripted television are people of color, a three percent increase from the previous report and a record-high.

Only one asexual character was counted in this report, Todd Chavez on Netflix’s BoJack Horseman. No additional asexual characters have been added, and BoJack Horseman is set to air its final episodes in this reporting period.

Broadcast hit another record high with 46 percent of series regular characters counted on broadcast scripted primetime television being women, a three point increase from the previous year. This still underrepresents that women are estimated to be 51 percent of the U.S. population.

The amount of regular primetime broadcast characters counted who have a disability has increased to 3.1 percent, which is a record-high percentage but that number still vastly underrepresents the actualities of Americans with disabilities. There are nine characters across all three platforms tracked (broadcast, cable, streaming) who are HIV-positive.

Netflix counts the highest number of LGBTQ characters on all streaming services, and Showtime counts the highest number on cable networks. The CW boasts the highest percentage of LGBTQ series regular characters of the five broadcast networks.

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