Why Does GLAAD Want More Fake Gays on Television?

According to a recent report from GLAAD, there's good news and bad news about the number of gay and bisexual characters on scripted network TV shows these days. The good news is that some of the most popular shows—like Glee, True Blood, and The Good Wife—have become known for their storylines that feature LGBT characters. The bad news is that the number of gay, lesbian, and bisexual characters have dropped on network television shows (not cable) since last season, from 3.9 percent of actors to 2.9 percent.

What do the numbers MEEAAN? Are we seeing a trend towards homophobia? My god, have we become a more intolerant, discriminating nation?

Or has the GLAAD report become an increasingly strange way to measure acceptance, when you consider how infrequently television actually reflects reality?


Look, I know this is a touchy subject, but I just can't wrap my head around the idea of analyzing characters portrayed on TV in order to determine how inclusive we have become as a society. Especially when you consider these reports only look at scripted shows, which is fictional entertainment that's often filled with stereotypes and parodied situations. I mean, is GLAAD really happy that there's a character like Dean Pelton on Community, whose ambiguous—but clearly gay—sexuality makes up the entirety of his one-note personality? Does that character further the cause?

I'm also bemused by the near-constant touting of HBO's True Blood as being the most inclusive show on TV. In the report, GLAAD Acting President Mike Thompson asked for more ethnic diversity, while praising True Blood for its "fair, accurate, and diverse" representation:

GLAAD continues to call for networks to not only include LGBT characters, but ensure that the images reflect the gender and ethnic diversity that makes up our community. There are zero LGBT African American or transgender characters on broadcast network TV, but storylines like those of True Blood’s spirit-channeling fry cook Lafayette (...) demonstrate how more diverse representations make for popular, original, and compelling television.

But—but this is a show about vampires and fairies and werewolves, for crying out loud. I'm not sure it's quite fair to say it's original and compelling television because of its human diversity.

Besides, wouldn't you say it's time for GLAAD to turn its attention to reality television? After all, this is a segment of TV that's become wildly popular and tends to dominate ratings. In a recent broadcast television poll, 15 of the top 20 highest-rated programs among adults in the 18-49 age group (the most valuable viewers, according to advertisers) were reality or unscripted shows. Since these shows (arguably) feature real people instead of characters, why not make a list of who's gay and who isn't?

I think the folks on those shows would say that their sexuality doesn't matter. So ... why does it matter for scripted characters?

What do you think about the GLAAD ratings—do you agree there should be more LGBT characters included on TV?

Image via Fox

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