Every year, GLAAD does a comprehensive analysis of TV’s LGBT images, entitled The GLAAD Network Responsibility Index (NRI). The report is intended “to serve as a road map toward increasing fair, accurate, and inclusive LGBT media representations.” The Pulse of Equality survey, commissioned by GLAAD, reports that of 19% of Americans that reported an increase of favorable feelings towards gays and lesbians, 34% cited “seeing gay or lesbian characters on television” as a reason why. GLAAD rates each network from “failing” to “excellent” with relation to quantity, and especially quality of LGBT inclusive programming, with an emphasis on diversity
SURPRISE! The NRI found that Lesbian women were far less represented than gay men. The rates are improving, however. Representation of lesbian characters is up to 25% from 17% last year. I read (well, mostly skimmed) the report, so you don’t have to, and here’s what GLAAD had to say about each network:
Rating: Good (27% inclusive programming)
I always love that Disney owned networks, like ABC and ABC Family are so LGBT inclusive. It’s a little unexpected, at least to me, just because some people make such a huge fuss about family values- as if we don’t have any. So what did ABC do for us this season?
CALZONA. Though the storyline between Callie and Arizona was a lot less scandalous this season, maybe it was for the best. We got to see a committed lesbian couple, with a child nonetheless, helping each other through life. After that ridiculous finale, we’re not really sure about the fate of Calzona, but fingers crossed- we get our girls back next season.
Unfortunately, this is really the only lesbian exposure we get from ABC. The rest of their gay characters are not only predominantly male, but also predominantly white. One lesbian Latina isn’t going to change anything, so hopefully we can get some more diversity this upcoming season.
Rating: Good (29% inclusive programming)
When I think of the CW, I wonder “does anyone actually watch this channel?” Then I remember they show America’s Next Top Model. Maybe I’m the only one that thinks that. This season we had the All-Stars cycle with Kayla Ferrel, British Invasion with AzMarie Livingston, and bisexual model Laura James in cycle 19. The one thing I remember about the All Star cycle was that they forced Kayla to wear a gigantic unflattering rainbow flag, because that was all they could think of to describe her -_- What is that? Apparently being gay = rainbow flags. Cool. I’ll just show up to class in one of those, then.
Rating: Good (24% inclusive programming)
Lez be honest. This is what I really want to talk about. Brittana. I fangirl hard over Naya Rivera. Glee is probably the most inclusive show on television, portraying not only committed gay and lesbian relationships, but showing what high school can really be like for them, especially trying to work out who they are to themselves. I adore Glee, no matter what anyone says, because it’s a show that needs to be seen. It’s a voice that needs to be heard, at a time when it is absolutely necessary to teach high school students acceptance of themselves and others. Get ‘em while they’re young!
Other than Glee, Fox’s only other lesbians on screen were Thirteen’s brief reappearance for the last episodes of House, and Jess’ lesbian gyno friend on New Girl (who is rumored to reappear this coming season). Ten seasons in, American Idol has still yet to show any out LGBT singers, though NBC’s The Voice has had several over the past two years. Sketchy…
Rating: Good (34% inclusive programming)
Here we have some ridiculously conflicting ideas of lesbianism. I want to gush about Pretty Little Liars first. PLL portrays most of the LGBT impressions for ABC Family, and one of the most popular lesbian portrayals on TV, in Emily Fields. Not only do we have a multiracial lesbian, but she is also a main character with a dominating storyline. My one problem with the portrayal of Emily is that she kind of jumps around from girlfriend to girlfriend. But I guess it’s not her fault that they keep dying. Brb gonna go cry over Maya now…
…And then there’s The Secret Life of the American Teenager. First off, I think Secret Life is one of the worst shows on television. The acting is laughably awful, and the storylines are ridiculous. How many people in your storylines have to get pregnant?!
Molly Ringwald’s character came out as a gay mom this season, which is supposed to make me think more highly of this show. But I can’t. Because other characters kept trying to make it seem like being a lesbian was bad- and she wasn’t doing much to dispute the idea. That’s definitely not what I want to see in my programming. Then, we have Grace show up to school wearing- wait for it- a trucker hat, cargo pants,a denim vest, and working boots. I can’t even describe how infuriated I was when I saw that. It’s completely offensive to assume that lesbians all dress like butch, unstylish, rugged truckers.
I had to skip a few networks, just for the sake of A) not boring you to tears with a million pages of notes, and B) complete lack of relevant lesbian characters- for shame!
What are you looking forward to, now that the new season is starting up? What made you really happy or disappointed in the networks last season?