New Study Shows a Decrease in LGBTQ+ Characters Across Broadcast, Cable and Streaming Networks

New Study Shows a Decrease in LGBTQ+ Characters Across Broadcast, Cable and Streaming Networks
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GLAAD, which is an acronym for Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, is an American non-governmental media monitoring organization that focuses on monitoring how LGBTQ+ characters are portrayed in media and how often they are represented. They are known for numerous activities, but one of the better-known ones is the annual Where We Are on TV report, whose 19th edition was released recently. The report “analyzes the number of LGBTQ regular and recurring characters on scripted primetime broadcast, scripted primetime cable and scripted series on eight major streaming platforms that aired between June 1, 2023, and May 31, 2024.”

The report revealed some interesting findings and we are going to provide you with a summary of the results. This report arrives at a time when Hollywood is changing significantly, when the perception of those who are different is changing, and it is a good indicator of how the societal trends are actually reflected on television.

The main finding of the study, without going into details at this point, was that the overall number of LGBTQ+ characters on television is decreasing and that LGBTQ+ characters are falling out of focus, as per the following numbers:

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As you can see, there is a significant decrease in the total number of LGBTQ+ characters on TV, a total of 21% since last year, and a 26% decrease since the 2021/2022 television season. Overall, there is only around 8% of LGBTQ+ characters on TV, so impressions by some fans that these characters are becoming omnipresent and that LGBTQ+ topics are present everywhere and all around us are simply incorrect. In fact, there is a decrease of such characters.

The main findings of the study, the full version of which you can check out here, are as follows:

  • For the 2023-2024 season, GLAAD counted 454 series regulars across primetime scripted broadcast programming. Of those, 39 (8.6 percent) are LGBTQ. This is a decrease of 31 characters and two percentage points from last year. There are an additional 25 LGBTQ recurring characters, bringing the total to 64 LGBTQ characters on broadcast, a decrease of 37 characters from the previous study.
  • GLAAD counted 49 LGBTQ series regulars and 28 LGBTQ recurring characters on primetime scripted cable, for a total of 77 LGBTQ characters. This is a decrease of 62 characters from the previous study.
  • On streaming services Amazon Prime, Apple TV+, Disney+, Hulu, Max, Netflix, Paramount+ and Peacock, GLAAD counted 208 LGBTQ series regular characters and 119 recurring LGBTQ characters, for a total of 327 LGBTQ characters. This is a decrease of 29 characters from the previous study.
  • Of the 468 LGBTQ characters counted across all platforms, there are 24 transgender characters (5.1 percent of all LGBTQ characters), a decrease of eight characters and 0.3 percentage points from the previous study. Of those, there are 11 trans women, five trans men, and eight trans nonbinary characters.
  • Of the 468 LGBTQ characters counted across all platforms, there are 113 bisexual+ characters (24 percent). This is a decrease of 36 characters and one percentage point from the previous study. Of the bi+ characters, there are 69 bi+ women, 38 bi+ men, and six bi+ nonbinary characters.
  • Of the 468 LGBTQ characters across all platforms, 232 (50 percent) are characters of color. This is a decrease of 72 characters and one percentage point from the previous study.
  • There were 18 LGBTQ characters (3.8 percent of all LGBTQ characters) counted with a disability. This is a decrease of nine characters and 0.7 percentage points from the previous study.
  • There was only one LGBTQ character (0.2 percent) counted this year living with HIV.
  • Of all 468 LGBTQ characters counted, at least 170 (36 percent) will not be returning due to series cancellations or endings, miniseries/ anthology format, or a character dying or leaving the show. Of those, 112 LGBTQ characters (24 percent) won’t be returning due to series cancellation or ending.

These are the main results of the study, which show an overall decrease in all fields. Representation is important, without a doubt, but it has to be natural and it has to make sense from a narrative standpoint in each series, so that it doesn’t look like something forced upon the viewers. This is why GLAAD always adds a series of recommendations for networks and streaming services, which can also be seen in the study linked above.

Have something to add? Let us know in the comments below!

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