Fox and HBO lead the broadcast and cable networks, respectively, with the most lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender characters on television, according to the “Where We Are on TV” report released today by the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. The 16th annual survey shows that LGBT characters account for 2.9 percent of scripted series regulars on the broadcast networks, which is down from a high of 3.9 percent last fall. Cable, too, has fewer portrayals: There are 29 LGBT characters on mainstream cable networks this year, which is on par with last year but down from a high of 40 in 2008. Additionally, GLAAD notes that it counted 25 recurring characters on cable.
In the broadcast realm, Fox – with very gay-friendly shows like Glee – leads the way with 6.8 percent of its characters being LGBT, or eight out of 117 series regulars. It’s a marked improvement from 2007, when Fox featured not one LGBT character as a series regular.
For the first time in six years, ABC is not the champ among its broadcast competition, coming in second, as its percentage of LGBT portrayals dropped from 7.2 percent in 2010 to 3.4 percent this year. (R.I.P. Brothers & Sisters.) NBC comes in third, with three regular LGBT characters, or 1.9 percent of its 154 regulars. CW comes in fourth, with just one portrayal, for 1.5 percent of its 67 characters. Meanwhile, CBS is in last place for the fourth year in a row: Only one of the network’s 134 series regulars is LGBT for a whopping 0.7 percent. (Apparently, though, the network will have more LGBT representations via recurring characters.)
HBO’s True Blood – which was singularly the most gay-friendly show on television last year – and Showtime’s Shameless tied for the most LGBT characters of any shows across television, with a total of six on each. On cable as a whole, HBO features the most with 11 LGBT characters, seven of which are series regulars. Rival Showtime also makes a great showing, with 10 total characters, followed by ABC Family, FX, and TeenNick with four characters each, and TNT and BBC America with three each.
As a part of the report, GLAAD also studied other characteristics of the series regular characters on broadcast television and found that five of the 19 LGBT characters (or 26 percent) are of color and none are people with disabilities. Also, not one LGBT character on the broadcast networks is black or transgender.
Tanner on Twitter: @EWTanStransky