LGBT Representation on TV Is Still Pretty Terrible, Says GLAAD

Jeffrey Tambor in Transparent
Beth Dubber/Amazon

In many ways, 2015 has been a banner year for LGBT representation on television. From Transparent’s five Emmy wins to Caitlyn Jenner’s very public coming out on, it appears great strides have been made.

But according to the watchdog organization GLAAD, LGBT representations on TV are still lacking in diversity. In GLAAD’s annual “Where We Are on TV” report, the organization analyzed the number of LGBT characters on cable networks and streaming services, as well as the overall diversity on broadcast networks’ primetime scripted series.

They found that in the 2015-2016 season’s broadcast primetime shows, there are zero transgender characters. Only three recurring trans characters were found on cable, while streaming services provided seven characters. This was the first time the report has analyzed Netflix, Amazon and Hulu’s content.

Additionally, of the 881 regular characters appearing or expected to appear in broadcast primetime scripted shows, just 35—a mere 4 percent—are identified as gay, lesbian or bisexual. Among them, racial diversity is a notable issue: 73 percent of the LGBT characters on streaming platforms were white, and cable didn’t fare much better with 71 percent.

GLAAD’s findings included a rise in overall number of LGBT characters on cable—84 this year, compared to 64 last. Bisexual representation also rose across cable and broadcast, from 10 instances to 18. The report notes, however, that many of these perpetuated “dangerous stereotypes.”

“Each of us lives at the intersection of many identities and it’s important that television characters reflect the full diversity of the LGBT community,” Sarah Kate Ellis, CEO & President of GLAAD said in a press release. “It is not enough to just include LGBT characters; those characters need to be portrayed with thought and care to accurately represent an often tokenized community.”