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Not Many Gay Characters in Upcoming TV Season

August 21st, 2006 4:00pm EDT
Showtime's The L WordThe number of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) scripted representations on the six major broadcast networks will comprise only 1.3% of all series regular characters on the networks' 2006-07 schedule, according to the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD).

After a landmark year of LGBT representation in films such as Brokeback Mountain, Capote and Transamerica, the broadcast television networks continue to underrepresent their LGBT audience, according to an analysis conducted by GLAAD.

"In the last year, we've seen a tremendous amount of visibility on the big screen, reaching a large audience anxious to see our stories," says GLAAD President Neil G. Giuliano. "The networks, though, are not tapping into this audience and are failing to represent the reality and diversity of their viewers and the world around them."

GLAAD analyzed the 95 announced primetime comedies and dramas on the broadcast networks: ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, The CW and MyNetworkTV. Out of a total 679 series regular lead or supporting characters, GLAAD counts only nine (9) gay or lesbian characters — 1.3% — appearing on eight (8) different scripted network programs. There are an additional five (5) semi-regular recurring characters announced for this year. There are currently no bisexual or transgender representations on the broadcast networks.

One year ago, at the launch of the 2005-06 season, GLAAD counted 10 series regulars (representing 1.4% of all characters) with an additional six recurring characters. While the year-to-year numbers are relatively consistent, the profile of the roles has been greatly reduced. The exit of shows like NBC's Will & Grace, CBS' Out of Practice and ABC's Crumbs leaves many of the characterizations of gays and lesbians as minor or supporting players. In addition, there is a lack of diversity among this season's characters, with seven out of nine representing gay white men.

Meanwhile, cable and unscripted programming continue to raise the bar by exploring LGBT lives and families in multi-dimensional ways. On the mainstream cable networks, GLAAD counts 25 LGBT series regular characters that will appear during the 2006-07 season, the same number as last year. Cable networks here! and Logo provide additional programming specifically for an LGBT audience.

For the second year in a row, GLAAD has examined the race and gender, in addition to the sexual orientation, of all 679 series regulars scheduled to appear on the broadcast networks during the 2006-07 season, based on information the networks provided by Aug. 18, 2006. The findings show that the ABC Network ranks highest in overall diversity while Fox ranks lowest.


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