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September 22, 2008

GLAAD: Gay characters to double this season

The number of gay and lesbian TV characters on the broadcast networks will double to an all-time high this season.

There will be 16 regular characters on major-network scripted series this season who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, according to an annual survey conducted by the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.

That's more than twice as many as last year and the most in the 13 years GLAAD has been doing the study. The figures also reverse a trend of declining LGBT representation on broadcast, which had dropped the past two years. The number of recurring LGBT characters also is rising this year, up from 13 last season to 19.

"This dramatic increase shows how far many networks have come in developing complex, multilayered lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender characters," GLAAD president Neil Giuliano said.

Fox is the most-improved network, according to the survey. At the start of last season, the network had no LGBT characters; this year, it will have five -- the most of any network. CBS is the only net with no LGBT character as a series regular this season, and the CW, despite its young-skewing demographics and occasional envelope-pushing image, only has one.

With 616 series regulars examined, LGBT characters will represent 2.6% of the scripted series population, up from 1.1% in 2007, 1.3% in 2006 and 1.4% in 2005.

Some bullet points from the study:

•    Of the 616 series regular characters counted [not counting the infinite or unknown amount of recurring characters] on the five broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, The CW, Fox and NBC), 16 are LGBT, an all-time high and more than twice the number of characters noted in 2007.

•    Total number of scripted shows on broadcast television: 88

•    Number of shows with series regular LGBT characters: 12 (14%)

•    LGBT representations will account for 2.6% of all scripted series regular characters in the 2008-2009 broadcast television schedule, up from 1.1% in 2007, 1.3% in 2006, and 1.4% in 2005.

•    The number of recurring LGBT characters on broadcast television has also risen – from 13 last season to 19 this year.

•    On cable, the number of LGBT characters posted by the mainstream networks dropped from 40 to 32 series regulars, disappointing but still higher than two years ago, when only 25 LGBT series regulars were announced.

•    The number of recurring LGBT characters in mainstream cable series stayed about the same, with 16 recurring characters as opposed to last year’s 17.


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