If you’ve been wondering how LGBTQ representation for this current TV season stacks up, I’ve got some good news for you! According to GLAAD’s most recent “Where We Are on TV” report, LGBTQ representation is at a record high across all platforms (broadcast, cable, and streaming).
You can, and should, check out the entire report, but here are some of the highlights:
- 75 or 8.8% of the regular characters on broadcast primetime shows are LGBTQ, up from 58, or 6.4% last year. Additionally, there are 38 LGBTQ recurring characters, up from 28 last year.
- There are 208 regular and recurring LGBTQ characters on primetime cable shows, up from 173 last year.
- There are 112 regular and recurring LGBTQ characters on streaming series from Amazon, Hulu, and Netflix, up from 60 last year.
- The total number of regular and recurring bisexual characters across all platforms has increased (117 from 93), but the overall percentage went down from 28% to 27%.
- The total number of regular and recurring transgender characters across all platforms increased from 17 to 26. This year also saw the first transgender superhero on TV with Nicole Maines joining Supergirl as Nia Nal, aka Dreamer.
- The number of LGBTQ characters of color increased across platforms.
- The number of asexual characters has stayed the same, once again leaving the asexual community severely underrepresented.
- The number of characters with disabilities increased from 16 to 18, which is positive, but still leaves people with disabilities underrepresented.
It’s nice to see that the overall number of LGBTQ characters on TV has increased, but there’s still plenty of room for improvement and other factors to consider when looking at the numbers, like accessibility. A large number of LGBTQ characters come from cable or streaming services, so people who don’t have access to those platforms, like some low income families, don’t get to see those characters. To throw more numbers at you and to put it in perspective, that’s about 320 characters that someone doesn’t get to see if they don’t have access to cable and streaming.
Another factor to consider when viewing a report like this is the quality of storytelling, especially when you’re skimming or just looking at highlights. It’s easy to get excited and say “Look at all the positive stories,” but just because there is an LGBTQ character on a show, it doesn’t mean that character is being treated right. Some characters are sidelined after getting that coming out arc or are subjected to a harmful tropey storyline, and some are just killed off. GLAAD President, Sarah Kate Ellis discusses the importance of positive storytelling in her opening letter in the report, saying, “It is no longer enough just to have an LGBTQ character present to win LGBTQ audience’s attention, there needs to be nuance and depth to their story and they should reflect the full diversity of our community.”
One final thing to consider, record high numbers sound great, but the numbers themselves aren’t the best. In order to get the representation we deserve, to see an accurate representation of the world around us, we need to continue to speak up and demand positive representation for all underrepresented groups.