On first glance, a cause for celebration: Today media-monitoring group GLAAD released statistics that show LGBTQ representation on broadcast television has hit a zenith in the 12-year history of the organization tracking regular characters on prime-time shows.
GLAAD’s “Where We Are on TV” report reveals that 4.8 percent (43 characters) of characters in the 2016/2017 TV season are LGBTQ, compared to 95.4 percent (854 characters) being heterosexual. On cable shows, there are 92 LGBTQ characters (up from 84 last year).
It feels odd, though, to be celebrating what remains a paltry number; if 5 percent against 95 percent is a number we should celebrate, it also shows how far Hollywood has to go in fully evoking LGBTQ people, and our diverse lives, on the TV shows it makes.
Quite besides the numbers game is what those LGBTQ characters are doing on the shows they appear on. Apart from well-publicized standouts, such as the characters of Transparent and Orange Is the New Black, and the shows of Shonda Rhimes, are they being given the same depth of storylines and nuances of character as their straight counterparts?