TV study: LGBTQ characters increase in number with streaming

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February 17, 2022 2:49 p.m.

By LYNN ELBER AP TV Writer
LOS ANGELES (AP) — LGBTQ representation in scripted television series has grown alongside the footprint of streaming services, according to an annual study by advocacy group GLAAD.
“Television is the entertainment leader in telling LGBTQ stories,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, President and CEO of GLAAD, in the “Where We Are on TV” report on the 2021-22 season that was released. Thursday.
In recognition of the rise in the number and profile of streaming services, the study added five newcomers to the trio – Amazon, Hulu and Netflix – included in previous GLAAD diversity counts.
Broadcast networks and cable channels are part of the study, which also examines the representation of women, people of color and people with disabilities in broadcasting.
Netflix, which has consistently outperformed its streaming competitors when it comes to LGBTQ inclusivity, according to GLAAD, ranked first again, with 155 regularly seen or recurring characters in its original comedy and drama series.
By comparison, primetime series airing on the ABC, CBS, CW, Fox and NBC networks include a total of 141 LGBTQ characters this season, according to the study.
But GLAAD issued thinly veiled criticism of Netflix over its handling of Dave Chappelle’s 2021 special “The Closer,” which was criticized by people inside and outside the company for what they considered anti-transgender humor. Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos later said he made a mistake in responding to employee concerns, but the special remained on the streaming service.
“It would be dishonest to shine a light on Netflix’s inclusive programming without also being clear about the harm Netflix did to the LGBTQ community last fall by doubling down to give anti-LGBTQ content the reach and legitimacy of their platform. shape and brand,” the report says.
Netflix declined to comment.
After last year’s pandemic reduced the television industry’s output, the GLAAD report expressed satisfaction that the rebound did not leave LGBTQ representations behind. The growth of streaming services, including Apple TV+, Disney+, HBO Max, Paramount+ and Peacock, has opened the door to more inclusive pricing.
Here are some of the report’s findings, by platform:
DIFFUSION
There were 358 regularly seen and recurring LGBTQ characters in series offered by the eight streaming services included in the study, an increase of 217 from last year’s total found across three streaming services. (Last year, only Amazon, Hulu and Netflix were tracked.)
Helping Netflix maintain its lead in LGBTQ portrayals are foreign-language dramas with queer storylines, according to the report, including “Young Royals” from Sweden, “Rebelde” from Mexico and “Elite” from Spain. They join Netflix’s inclusive comedies ‘Never Have I Ever’, ‘Q-Force’ and ‘Sex Education’.
HBO Max, which launched in the spring of 2020, landed in second place in its first GLAAD tally. The service “quickly built a reputation as an outstanding LGBTQ-inclusive comedy series,” the report says, with the majority of its 71 LGBTQ characters found in comedies, including “Hacks,” “The Sex Lives of College Girls,” and “Kind of.”
BROADCAST NETWORKS
Of the 775 series characters regularly appearing on prime-time networks, 92 (11.9%) were LGBTQ. The previous record, in the 2019-2020 report, was 10.2%. Combining recurring and regular roles, LGBTQ characters totaled 141, a “significant increase” from last year’s tally of 101, according to the report.
In an early finding, lesbians make up the majority of LGBTQ characters on the air, with new characters introduced in series such as “NCIS: Hawai’i” and “Law & Order: Organized Crime.” The study called it a welcome “remarkable change” from the criticized television portrayal of queer women as tragic characters.
Although the networks are showing on the ground with several LGBTQ characters, including “Station 19” and “Batwoman,” there are yet to be any series with a predominantly LGBTQ cast, according to the study. In contrast, cable and streaming offered several, including “Pose,” “Queer as Folk,” and “Tales of the City.”
Among series regulars, characters of color reached a record 50%, up 4 percentage points from the previous season, while the share of female series regulars reached a new high of 47%. But representations on the network of characters with disabilities fell to 2.8%, to just 22 characters, from a high of 3.5%.
CABLE CHANNELS
Two years ago, GLAAD said it asked all television platforms to commit to people of color who make up at least half of LGBTQ characters, and broadcast and cable have taken up the challenge. “Unfortunately, this year cable has declined,” the report said, falling from 52% to 45%.
A large increase in the number of recurring LGBTQ characters on the cable series, along with an increase in the number of regular characters, brought the combined total to 138 on the primetime scripted cable originals. That’s up from last season’s 118, but a significant drop from the 215 characters two years ago.
With a total of 35 LGBTQ characters — including 16 on “The L Word: Generation Q” and four on newcomer “Yellowjackets” — Showtime has proven itself to be the most LGBTQ-inclusive cable network after placing third on the season. last.

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