For the past 14 years, GLAAD has been releasing their annual Where We Are on TV Report. GaySA Radio has also recently published our list of favourite LGBTQ+ TV characters for 2018, with shows like The Handmaid’s Tale, Sense8, Will & Grace, Modern Family, Rise and Elite dominating the list.
According to GLAAD’s research, this was the best year yet for LGBTQ+ representation on US television. Although the report focuses on American TV channels, it is a still a good indication of what we can expect in other countries like South Africa, since most English-speaking countries consume a lot of American pop culture.
Here are some of the highlights of GLAAD’s 2018 Where We Are on TV Report:
• Of the 857 regular characters appearing on broadcast-scripted primetime programming, 75 (8.8%) were identified as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and/or queer. This is the highest percentage GLAAD has ever found for a single year. There were an additional 38 recurring LGBTQ characters.
• The number of regular LGBTQ+ characters counted on scripted primetime cable increased to 120, while recurring characters increased to 88, making for 208 characters.
• There were 75 LGBTQ+ regular characters counted in original scripted series on the streaming services Amazon, Hulu, and Netflix as well as 37 recurring characters, bringing it to a total of 112 LGBTQ characters.
• Bisexual characters make up 27% of the LGBTQ+ characters tracked across all platforms (broadcast, cable, streaming originals) This is a slight decrease in percentage from last year, but up to 117 characters from the 93 in the previous report. The numbers still skew toward women, though there was an increase in bi men this year (84 women to 33 men).
• This year, there are 26 regular and recurring transgender characters tracked across all three platforms, up from 17 last year. Of those, 17 are trans women, five are trans men, and four are non-binary characters.
• Racial diversity of LGBTQ characters is up significantly on all three platforms tracked. For the first time, LGBTQ characters of colour outnumber white LGBTQ characters on broadcast television, 50 percent to 49 percent. 44 percent of all series regulars on broadcast scripted television are people of colour, a four percent increase from the previous report.
• Last year was GLAAD’s first inclusion of asexual characters in our annual count. Both characters (Raphael Santiago on Freeform’s Shadowhunters, Todd Chavez on Netflix’s BoJack Horseman) have returned from the previous year, but no additional asexual characters have been added. There are still no ace characters on broadcast.
• Only 43% of the regular characters counted on broadcast primetime television are women: the same percentage as last year, and a severe underrepresentation of the U.S. population, which is estimated to be 51 percent women.
• The amount of regular primetime broadcast characters counted who have a disability has slightly increased to 2.1 percent, but that number still vastly under-represents the actualities of Americans with disabilities. There are seven characters across all three platforms tracked who are HIV-positive, a substantial increase from last year’s two.
• Netflix counts the highest number of LGBTQ+ characters on all streaming services, and FX counts the highest number on cable networks. The CW boasts the highest percentage of LGBTQ+ series regular characters of the five broadcast networks.
You can visit GLAAD for the full report here.