Gays on TV: CW, ABC Family score top marks; TBS, A&E 'failing'


Image Credit: ABC Family

ABC Family and The CW received top marks for its inclusiveness of gay characters in the latest survey by GLAAD, while TBS and A&E drew failing grades.

Those are few of the findings in the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation’s fifth annual “network responsibility index” that tracks the quantity and quality of gay, lesbian and transgender roles on TV. Among the broadcast networks, The CW once again came out in first place, with CBS ranked last. ABC Family’s grade of “excellent” was only the second network in the survey’s history to ever receive such a classification — of its 103 hours of original primetime programming, 55 percent included LGBT “inclusive images,” on shows like Pretty Little Liars (pictured) and Greek. TBS and A&E, meanwhile, received failing grades for the fourth year in a row. Overall, networks have dramatically increased the number of gay portrayals in recent years.

Here’s how broadcast and cable networks with original scripted programming stack up on GLAAD’s index:

Ranking of the Broadcast Networks, 2010-2011
1. The CW, 33 percent – Good
2. Fox, 29 percent – Good
3. ABC, 23 percent – Good
4. NBC, 15 percent – Adequate
5. CBS, 10 percent – Adequate

Ranking of Cable Networks
1. ABC Family, 55 percent – Excellent
2. Showtime, 37 percent – Good
3. TNT, 33 percent – Good
4. HBO, 31 percent – Good
5. AMC, 29 percent – Good
6. Syfy, 22 percent – Good
7. FX, 19 percent – Adequate
8. USA, 18 percent – Adequate
9. A&E, 5 percent – Failing
10. TBS, 5 percent – Failing

Comments (91 total) Add your comment
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  • dee

    Who’s gay on the CW? Teddy’s gone from 90210 & Eric is in like every 6th episode of Gossip Girl.

    • Cygnus

      Sooooo…. should there also be a black, hispanic, asian, arab, european, eskimo, little person, handicapped person, special needs person, eunuchs, giants, Indians, Native Americans, Russians, Australians, criminals, ugly people, poor people, homeless, Christians, Muslims, Catholics, Jews etc on every show too? I’m so sick of GLAAD sticking their noses into everything. I’m sorry, but John Boy being gay on The Waltons would not have floated with the demographic that watches that show, and thus a massive loss of ad revenue for that show. Similarly today, not every show lends itself to needing a “gay” character, and the largest demographics don’t want to see it. If you want acceptance and rights, don’t go offending others’ rights and opinions. GLAAD is like the Black Panthers of the gay rights movement, and you see how well the Black Panthers worked out. THey’re just a fringe, near-terrorist gang now. Better ways to press your agenda than bombing the media with the false premise that every show needs someone gay.

      • Jackie

        I agree with Cygnus 100%. I try to explain it to people but some just don’t understand

      • a

        I suggest you take a look around. The real America really is all of those things so any show that represents it as anything but isn’t realistic. America is different from most countries in that it is almost entirely made up of immigrants, be they from 1611 or 2011. The same goes for gay people. Just because you may not know or be friends with any, doesn’t mean they’re not around you.

      • DUH

        you don’t get out much, do you?

      • CSW

        I agree with Cygnus! The majority do not want this thrown in their face every time they turn on the tv.

      • Cygnus

        A large proportion of Americans are old. You don’t see enough old people on TV. Why? Because they are not the majority of TV watchers and spenders. It has nothing to do with percentages in America. It has everything to do with demographics watching particular shows, and how much they’re willing to buy the products in the ads.

      • Lisa

        Wait… Jon Boy was gay?

      • a

        CSW – You say that, yet offer no supporting evidence that (1) gay characters are thrown in people’s faces “every time they turn on the TV” and (2) that a majority doesn’t want to see gay people on TV.

        Cygnus – I didn’t realize caucasians between the ages of 20-40 are the only ones that watch TV or spend money. Thanks for letting me know.

      • psb1962

        Cygnus and Jackie are obviously as brain dead as the crap they watch on tv…if you are black handicapped etc…then you are not a target for hate. If you are gay well then that is another story altogether, so they should keep their useless opinions. to themselves! and CSW is an asshol$

      • Hi

        I agree 100%…if we’re going to rate the stations based on “minority” presence then where’s the rest of the minorities on the list? Where’s the list for inter-racial relationships for examle?
        As someone IN an inter-racial marriage I can tell you we get hated on just as much! ESP in Texas!

      • Watson

        “thrown in their face”

        Unless your TV doesn’t have an off switch or channel selection no one is throwing anything in your face.

      • ML

        First, they’re not rating individual shows but networks. There won’t be gay characters in all shows for one netword and that itsn’t expected either. Second, this is just a rating, no action will or needs to be taken based on this… CBS will continue to provide programming for an older crowd and there’s nothing wrong with that. Third, this is the GLAAD association, of course there only lookng at gays portrayed on tv, they’re not here to emphasis attention on other minorities! People need to relax. This isn’t a law, it’s a simple survey.

      • Clueless

        Umm…psb1962, blacks and disabled aren’t targets of hate? What world are you living in? Ever hear the N word and the R word?

      • Captain

        While I think it’s ridiculous to force EVERY show to have a gay character (and I’m gay) I wouldn’t go THAT far to call GLAAD terrorists. They definitely cross the line at times but I think PETA and PTC come far closer to the “terrorist” label than them.

      • DJ

        psb1962, you are the one who is brain dead if you don’t think that black people & handicapped people are targeted for hate. I can’t believe you actually said that.

      • DJ

        @Clueless….psb1962 used the “r word” later in this comments section.

      • chase

        OMG!! I can’t believe those numbers. This is the reason that our country is in such turmoil. We have lost sight of what is right and wrong. I hope that in the next couple of years these numbers dwindled downward and have more focus is put upon God, family, and servitude not whether if a person is gay or straight.

      • Sam

        negativity is fear and positivity is bravery, I.m brave enough for change, and bored with fear.

    • Pash

      Actually I read that Eric has been signed for a new show so even he’s gone. I’m not sure who is gay on the CW either. I watch Gossip Girl, Vampire Diaries and ANTM, occasionaly 90210. I still can’t believe they let Teddy go on 90210, his was the only storyline that was interesting.

      • @Pash

        You’re right, his story line was interesting. I think the fact that the actor who plays him is about to turn forty made them get rid of him.

      • Captain

        Remember, it’s about inclusive images as well so not necessarily just gay characters. Gossip Girl, 90210, Hellcats and America’s Next Top Model all promote inclusive images so I’d say that’s what made up their 33%. I don’t watch a lot of ABC Family but aside from Emily on Pretty Little Liars and Calvin on Greek, I can’t think of another gay character on the network.

    • ATLgroove

      I’m thinking all the boy cheerleaders (and a few of the girls) on Hellcats pushed CW over the top? Except for Lewis – even he’s a bit questionable.

      • Research

        Gary Gates is the demographer-in-residence at the Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy, a think tank based at the University of California, Los Angeles.
        Gates took five separate studies and came to the conclusion that the American population of gays and lesbians was around 4 million. This amounts to 1.7 percent of all adults 18 and older. So those that are “failing” are more accurately reflecting the American population. And those that are “excellent”, “good”, or “adequate” are dramatically missing the actual population density of the lgbt community.

    • tom

      i’m so sick of people saying that gay characters or storylines are thrown in their face. It’s a part of life, not everyone is the same. Would you say if there were black or asian characters on the show — that they are somehow thrown in your face as well? Ridiculous that we are still talking about this in 2011.

  • parkR

    Just curious, does the percentage just mean how many sum hours of dialogue the LGBT character has or as long as they are in the background shot? Are there bonus points if they bring up a LGBT issue or if there is a LGBT kiss? Also what is the current population of LGBT (in %)?

    • bb

      I was wondering the same thing. It particular, how is it measuring the “quality”.

    • Cameron J

      …okay, GLAAD, did you know oppressing everyone to only do things with gays and such is discrimination and control just like what you’re stopping? I’m sorry that… Intervention and… Hoarders don’t search out gay people to help- or would that count as low quality, defaming gays, and they’d have to apologize and take a worldwide tour over gay rights. I am totally for gay marriage. I am absolutely against your propaganda.

  • jo

    What a ridiculous thing to rank or score. Good tv is good tv. No matter if the gays are represented or not.

    • Diogo

      Technically good TV doesn’t need gay characters. SOCIALLY good TV does need gay characters.

  • B

    Stupidest thing I’ve ever read. GLAAD is the stupidest group I’ve ever heard of. The whole thing is just stupid. Men should be with women – it’s how we’re made

    • Ed

      GLAAD and organizations like it exist because of people like you.

    • a

      Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. For example, I think you’re an idiot. But then again, it’s just how you were made.

    • Jackie

      it’s B’s opinion. relax on the name calling

      • jack

        so B is allowed to voice his opinion that GLAAD is stupid, but A isn’t allowed to voice his opinion that B is an idiot? If you’re going to call one person on name calling, you need to call both of them on it.

    • psb1962

      B is also a retarded crackhead!

      • DJ

        Hilarious. You say there’s no hate targeted at handicapped people earlier now you use the word retarded to describe someone who’s opinion you don’t like. You’re a moron.

      • Modhu

        Stereotyping it drives me nuts.We get a lot of jontialusrs who just aren’t interested in anything other than confirming their preconceived ideas with some evidence’ even when the evidence doesn’t exist or contradicts what they want to say. Five years after the fact, there are still articles claiming that the number of egg and sperm donors dropped through the floor when the law on anonymity was changed. It didn’t the numbers actually went up. If they’d bothered to check the publicly available stats on the HFEA website they’d know this is a non-story but no, bad news is so much more entertaining.Then, and I hate to say it, there are the articles in women’s mags who want a very specific story about a grieving infertile couple given hope by a donor and how they had suffered for so long but look there was a happy ending. I know this is what they DO and it’s also the kind of story that helps recruit donors, but y’know, it’s not the whole picture.

    • Sam

      who’s stopping you?

  • Cass

    I’d rather not watch gay characters. Thanks.

    • a

      You’re welcome.

    • DUH

      and i’d rather not see your comments. guess we’re both kinda effed.

    • BC

      I’d rather not see straights kiss & shag …ever, but hey, I’ll never get my wish. I just shrug and move on. So should you.
      Live and let live.

    • Sam

      Cass, how about some Highway to Heaven?

  • Tards

    To the last three commenters, my name says it all

  • jfms777

    A&E is failing? What is on A&E? Is anything on A&E? Does anyone even watch A&E? lol

    TBS has no gays–and yet they broadcast 2 Tyler Perry comedies. Funny.

    • Jennifer

      You mean none of those Swamp People are gay? Surely someone on Ice Road Truckers or Axe Men (or whatever that show is called) must be transgendered. Seriously, though, given the ‘quality’ of the shows on A&E, I’d think placing so low on the list would be a compliment to the LGBT community.

  • GLAAD Men

    Does anyone really listen to an organization that rallied against a trailer for “The Dilemma?” These folks are almost a parody of themselves. Also, 20% of HBO’s 31 probably came from “True Blood” alone (if the ratings were based solely on character count, of course). :-)

  • Fez

    How ironic is it that the network with the highest score was once owned by Pat Robertson!

    • SC

      It’s at the point where ABC Family carries a “does not reflect the views of ABC Family” disclaimer before they show Robertson’s show (something they’re contractually obligated to do).

  • psb1962

    Cass is a fuc7

  • Harry

    Um, almost everything on A&E are reality shows or procedurals or both. GLAAD, PETA, and LGBTQXYZ are so full of it. Not every show NEEDS a gay character and every show that has one stuffs that character down the viewers throats. I don’t really want to see two men kissing and feeling on each other. What if I’m channel surfing and my son sees something like that. I don’t want to explain that to a 5 year old. Keep the gay fever on networks like HBO and Showtime so people KNOW what they’re getting into.

    • John

      There kissing not having sex.

      • Harry

        And thats worse?

    • jack

      You might need to watch more shows. For example, White Collar has a FBI agent who is a lesbian. It’s not stuff down the viewers’ throats. And if your son sees two men kissing in real life or on television, how about you simply explain to them what homosexuality is. Teach him tolerance instead of hate.

      • Diogo


    • davey

      Maybe you should be a good parent and explain to your son that what he is seeing are human beings who love each other – i don’t know…maybe teach your child that every one is different and every one has different opinions and likes and dislikes! Maybe teach them to have open hearts and open minds and not teach them hate and loathing like so many others in your country!

      • 867-5309

        Excellant post davey.

      • Jane

        You are right abou teaching your kids to love everybody & not hate people who are living a lifestyle you don’t agree with & it drives me crazy when I see people who are against homosexuality (I’m one of them) think that it’s ok to hate. But if you are a person whose beliefs TOTALLY conflict with something on TV, no matter what it is, you would want some kind of boundaries there. It doesn’t HAVE to be everywhere & while you might not think that it is everywhere-consider that to some people who don’t want to see any of it, they seem to be bombarded with it. For example a smoker who thinks they don’t have a certain odor because it is just normal to them. It’s fine that it’s normal to them that they hardly notice it but it’s VERY obvious to me & bothersome to me. For those of you who want to debate about “how I can be a loving person if I don’t accept homosexuality…that’s for another time

    • SC

      Gays are no more or less family friendly than straights. That’s equality.

    • Will

      When I watch Hoarders, I hope I see at least one gay person hoarding their Streisand collection! And when I watch Intervention, where are all my gays addicted to glitter!? I am so disappointed A&E!

    • Sam

      Oh Harry….

  • SC

    I find it ironic that FOX gets the second-highest broadcast network grade, given the politics of its sister news network. Of course, a lot of that is thanks to “Glee”.

    I’m hard-pressed to think of many examples of prominent gay characters on the CW, but then, I don’t watch that network much.

  • Nerwen Aldarion

    Why does this matter? Does this mean that these networks should start rushing to add gay characters to get a good grade that means NOTHING???? Why don’t they just focus on making quality program and if the need or desire for a gay character comes up then let it, if it doesn’t then don’t force it.

    • SC

      It matters because gays are an underrepresented and discriminated-against minority in our society and thus depictions of them in the media are particularly important. Not to mention, it helps TV better reflect the real world.

      • Merissa Explains it All

        Then you should create your own television show with beaucoup LGBTs. Be the change and WRITE a good show. Fund a station. Be the change you want to see. I don’t necesarily agree that we should criticize the industry for the lack of gays on television. They have no obligation to reflect the “real world” — they’re only obligation is to make money and to abide by the FCC (though I’m sure the inclusion of LGBT will increase viewers, but I’m no big shot exectuive). Point blank The inclusion of gays, blacks, latinos, asians, the disabled, etc… on TV would be amazing. But I don’t think they have an obgliation to reflect our society. It’s their shows. As long as they are not actively offending the LGBT community, they should do as they please.

      • Adam

        Why should TV better reflect the real world? I watch TV to escape the real world.

        And if reflected the real world was so important, I think the more pressing matter would be to have TV shows better represent the number of poor people or overweight people or any other group facing real problems that are going on in this country.

      • Wes

        @Adam, totally agree.

      • Mayra

        @nerwen-I agree with you. My first thought was does it really matter what GLADD or any other organization’s “grade” is? TV shows don’t always call for a gay storyline or a gay character. I believe that GLADD is sitting on a high horse trying to bully people into sharing their beliefs. I have no problem watching a show with a gay storyline or with the gay community, but actions like this “grade” are what makes people on the fence feel aggravated by this association. @SC-There are a lot of minorities in this country. As a member if one, I can tell u that I could care less if I see a brown person on the tv out not. And discrimination is something I face often living in the south and being on an interracial relationship. So I believe making a big deal out of something we can fight onm other ways is a waste of energy, time, and can actually alienate people even more towards a certain community.

      • Research

        Under represented? Every station listed is over representing the LGBT community. You want reality lets cap LGBT to a maximum of 5 percent as that is the most common thought. Or the much more accurate 1.7 percent.

  • C

    Wow who cares?!! I don’t pick a show because of how many gays or minorities it has in it…I pick it because of it’s story line and content. Why does it matter so much? I don’t care one way or another. I can’t believe someone actually did a study on this…really?! I think there are more important things to take a look at in this world :)

  • Tom

    I’m out, proud, engaged, and more fabulous than any of you will ever be, but — GLAAD is so annoying. Do we really need a measure of this? Honestly, who actually watches TV and says, “Man, this show needs more gay characters!”. The only “good” thing this survey can bring about is about a dozen more token gay characters who are just there for equalities sake. Nobody on TV is saying “gay is bad” (Idiot commenters on EW are another story…). The writers are just writing what they know and what sells. Don’t give them a hard time and respect their art. Sorry, I just hate characters who are gay for the sake of being gay.

    • C

      I agree Tom.

    • StephenKC

      Yes, we do need reports like this. Thank you, GLAAD, for forcing Hollywood to think about its decisions and the effect their programming has on society.

      • GG

        Truth, truth. Television has a profound effect on our society. In fact, after watching Star Trek reruns last night, I decided to buy a starship. And there was a black person on that episode too, so I decided that those kinds of people weren’t so bad.

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