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Entertainment

The number of LGBT+ characters on TV has reached an all-time high

Josh Jackman October 25, 2018

Many shows have introduced new queer characters or revealed existing characters' queer sexualities (supergirl, grey's anatomy and crazy ex girlfriend)

There are more LGBT+ characters on TV than ever before.

Viewers have seen a total of 433 regular and recurring queer characters on broadcast, cable, and streaming platforms over the past year, compared to the previous record high of 329, which was set in 2017.

Shows like Supergirl, Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Pose — which has a record-breaking number of transgender characters — have launched LGBT+ representation to new heights, according to a new GLAAD report which came out on Thursday (October 25).

MJ Rodriguez, Hailie Sahar, Dominique Jackson, Janet Mock, Angelica Ross, and Charlayne Woodard at the FX 'Pose' Ball in Harlem on June 2, 2018 (Andrew Toth/Getty for FX Networks)
MJ Rodriguez, Hailie Sahar, Dominique Jackson, Janet Mock, Angelica Ross, and Charlayne Woodard from Pose (Andrew Toth/Getty)

The percentage of queer characters on broadcast primetime has also reached an unprecedented level, with one in 11 characters — 8.8 percent — being openly LGBT+.

Queer men and women are equally represented in this figure, and — partly thanks to Ryan Murphy’s Pose — there are also more queer people of colour than queer white folk on broadcast TV for the first time.

There has also been an increase in the number of transgender and bisexual characters over the past year, helped by shows like The Bisexual and Supergirl, which has introduced trans character Nia Nal — played by activist and actress Nicole Maines — this season.

Desiree Akhavan directing on set of The Bisexual (Channel 4)

GLAAD president Sarah Kate Ellis said that the high ratings enjoyed by shows with prominent queer characters, like Will & Grace, Modern Family and How to Get Away with Murder, showed that audiences crave LGBT+ representation.

“Inclusion is not just the right thing to do, but… it is good for the bottom line,” she said.

“Audiences are clearly hungry for new stories and perspectives, and fans are showing up to support the content that is telling stories they recognise and can relate to.”

Ellis added that the bare minimum of representation was not satisfactory for viewers anymore — another sign of progress on TV.

Dr Nico Kim, Grey’s Anatomy’s first gay surgeon, was introduced this season (ABC)

“It is no longer enough just to have an LGBTQ character present to win LGBTQ audience’s attention,” she said.

“There needs to be nuance and depth to their story and they should reflect the full diversity of our community.”

Ellis wanted to see a significant increase on the percentage of characters on broadcast primetime TV who were recorded as queer in this year’s analysis — 8.8 percent — setting a target of double digits by 2020.

Cheryl comes out to Toni as bisexual on Riverdale (Netflix)

“GLAAD is calling on the industry to make sure that within the next two years, 10 percent of series regular characters on primetime scripted broadcast series are LGBTQ,” she said.

“This is an important next step towards ensuring that our entertainment reflects the world in which it is created.”

There are certainly more queer TV shows coming soon, with Jim Parsons working to develop a new gay comedy after the end of The Big Bang Theory and The CW having announced that Batwomanfeaturing Ruby Rose as the lesbian superhero — will debut in December.

More: Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, entertainment, GLAAD, How To Get Away With Murder, lgbt representation, Modern Family, pose, supergirl, Television, US, US, will & grace

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