GLAAD released its fifth annual Network Responsibility Index (NRI) today, a report that maps the quantity, quality and diversity of images of LGBT people on television. Primetime programming on the five broadcast networks was evaluated as well as original primetime programming on 10 major cable networks.
“As television audiences get to know our community and the common ground that we all share on the screen and in their own lives, acceptance is growing,” said Mike Thompson, Acting President of GLAAD. “Inclusive programming is a hit with critics and audiences alike who cheered for Kurt and Blaine’s romance on Glee or watched the wedding of Callie and Arizona on Grey’s Anatamy.”
ABC Family became the second network in the NRI’s history to earn an “Excellent” rating from GLAAD. Of its 103 hours of original primetime programming, 55% included LGBT-inclusive images which also reflected the ethnic and racial diversity of the LGBT community. It is notable that both ABC Family and MTV, which in 2010 received the first-ever “Excellent” rating from GLAAD, are both youth-oriented networks.
“Programs like Pretty little Liars and Greek have woven gay, lesbian, and bisexual characters into their stories in a way that mirrors the diversity of our community and the experiences of younger generations,” said Herndon Graddick, Senior Director of Programs at GLAAD. “Viewers expect to see television environments that accurately reflect what it’s like to be a young adult, and today that includes young adults who happen to be gay.”
The CW remains the top broadcast network with 33% of its primetime programming hours being LGBT-inclusive. Fox came in second at 29%, and both networks received a “Good” rating this year.
ABC remained in third place in terms of its percentage of LGBT-inclusive programming hours (23%). ABC received a “Good” rating because of the strong quality of its LGBT images, and the network broadcast the greatest total number of LGBT-inclusive hours (253).
CBS remained in last place with 10% LGBT-inclusive hours of primetime programming. After receiving their second “Failing” score in a row last year, however, they improved enough to receive an “Adequate” score this year.
In addition to ABC Family’s “Excellent” rating, Showtime (37%), TNT (33%), HBO (31%), Lifetime (31%), AMC (29%), and Syfy (22%) all received “Good” ratings for the quantity and quality of their LGBT-inclusive original programming.
USA increased their LGBT-inclusive hours from 4% to 18%, which improved their score from “Failing” to “Adequate.”
For the fourth year in a row, A&E (5%) and TBS (5%) both received “Failing” ratings for their lack of LGBT-inclusive images.
One area in which all networks continue to struggle is the underrepresentation or misrepresentation of the transgender community. There were no regular or recurring transgender characters on any networks tracked in this year’s NRI. And while there were several one-episode stories that included transgender characters, almost none were ideal representations.
“Fairly and accurately depicting the transgender community should be seen not just as a responsibility for networks, but as an opportunity,” said Thompson. “There are rich characters and stories yet to be written that would also help networks reflect the full spectrum of the LGBT community.”
One example can be found on the TeenNick show Degrassi, which features the continuing storyline of a transgender teen named Adam. GLAAD worked with Degrassi on the scripts of several episodes, including Adam’s introduction in “My Body is a Cage,” which received a Peabody Award and was recently nominated for an Emmy® Award.
The 16th Annual GLAAD Where We Are On TV report on diversity will be issued in September 2011. This analysis will examine LGBT inclusion as well as the gender and race/ethnicity of all scripted characters scheduled to appear during the 2011-2012 season.
To download a full version of the report, visit www.glaad.org/nri