First published on TheFasterTimes.com on September 28, 2011. Read the original here.
Thanks to Glee, Fox Leads In GLAAD’s TV Inclusiveness Report
Fox has taken the title of “most inclusive broadcast network” in GLAAD’s 2011-2012 Where We Are On TV report, which analyzes the numbers of LGBT characters on both network and cable television. The station took the title away from last year’s winner, ABC, with 6.9% of its leading characters identifying as gay, lesbian, or bisexual, which translates to a total of eight. There are no regular trans characters on the channel.
Is this a sign that Fox is leading the charge of the gay agenda? (It’s cousin, Fox News, must love this idea.) Not quite: a full half of those characters belonged to a single show, the Ryan Murphy juggernaut Glee. The show may have started with one out character, Kurt (Chris Colfer), but with the revelation of a relationship between cheerleaders Brittany (Heather Morris) and Santana (Naya Rivera) and the promotion of formerly recurring character Blaine (Darren Criss), Glee propelled the station to the top. Of course, having the gayest show on TV outside of Logo should garner Fox some praise anyway.
Another reason to take Fox’s placement with a grain of salt is that three of the other four characters are animated – and one is Roger from American Dad, who’s just an alien with the voice of Paul Lynde. Some might call it a stretch to count him as a gay character. That’s not to say the network shouldn’t be praised for having these characters, of course – after all, representation is still representation – but it is not quite the LGBT playground today’s news makes it out to be at first glance.
On the cable side, HBO leads in total characters (eleven) and regular characters (seven). Much like Fox, interestingly, one show supplied the bulk of these: True Blood, unsurprisingly, is the greatest LGBT supplier, contributing four of the series regulars. Oddly, vampire Eric (Alexander Skarsgard) is not included on the list, despite the fact that we saw him very clearly last season having sex with another man. Sure, he did kill him during it, but it was heavily implied if not outright stated that he’d been with men before. But as any college course on sexuality will tell you, there is a lot of gray area when it comes to assigning labels, and perhaps GLAAD simply wanted to err on the side of caution.
Other shows that made up particularly large portions of their network’s total include Degrassi: The Next Generation, which gave TeenNick four, and Shameless, which gave Showtime a whopping six LGBT characters, though only one a regular. The only other real trend apparent in GLAAD’s findings? Overall, the number of LGBT characters has declined from last year.