Gay TV Characters On The Rise: ABC Tops List, CBS In Last

by | September 29, 2010 at 11:33 AM | Fall TV Preview 2010, Glee, Modern Family, True Blood, TV News

'True Blood's Eric, played by Alexander Skarsgard (HBO)

'True Blood's Eric, played by Alexander Skarsgard (HBO)

According to the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation’s 15th annual “Where We Are on TV” report, the number of gay or lesbian characters appearing on scripted broadcast series increased 3.9 percent for the coming season – or 23 out of some 600 characters. The previous year-to-year gain reported by GLAAD had been 3 percent.

Of the broadcast networks, ABC put in the best showing with 11 gay/bi characters out of 152 (or 7.2 percent).

CBS, meanwhile, continues to sit in last place. Out of 125 series regular characters, only one this season qualifies as LGBT.

“We’re not happy with ourselves,” CBS entertainment president Nina Tassler told reporters back in July, after receiving a “failing” grade from GLAAD. “We’re adding a few characters to this season because we’re very disappointed in our track record.” Those additions to ‘Rules Of Engagement’ and ‘$#*! My Dad Says,’ however, are recurring characters.

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On cable, where the LGBT tally inched up from 32 to 35, HBO’s ‘True Blood’ was deemed the most inclusive, with six such characters.

Other trends pointed out in GLAAD’s report:

* Comedies demonstrated the greatest increase, going from 8 to 11 LGBT characters.

* The Fox lineup, which back in 2007 boasted exactly zero LGBT characters, now features five.

* Only six out of network TV’s 23 LGBT characters are non-white, one area that could benefit from improvement.

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GLAAD President Jarrett Barrio says the overall increase in gay characters “not only reflects the shift in American culture towards greater awareness and understanding of our community, but also a new industry standard.” He cites such mainstream hits as ‘Glee’ and ‘Modern Family’ as evidence that “mainstream audiences embrace gay characters and want to see well-crafted stories about our lives.”