Just when conservatives think there are too many gay television shows and characters the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) is bemoaning the decrease in gay characters on network television.
Last year according to GLAAD the networks had 10 gay or lesbian characters which represented 1.4% of all series regular characters compared to just 9, representing 1.3% of all series regulars for the upcoming 2006-2007 season. Hit the panic button, there will be one less gay character this year. Give me a break.
GLAAD also was critical of the profile of gay characters now mostly being reduced to what they termed as minor or supporting roles from the more prominent roles they played on such shows such as Will and Grace, Out of Practice and Crumbs. To top it off they also stated that there was a lack of diversity because eight of the nine characters this season will be gay white men. So not only are the networks reducing the gay roles they are being sexist at the same time. How do you win that battle?
The GLAAD study also found that out of 679 characters, males were represented 57% of the time compared to 43% for females. Also African Americans were 12% of the total and Latino’s 7%. GLAAD president Neil G. Giuliano is quoted on their website as saying “When you look at primetime’s dismal lack of LBGT characters-combined with the continuing under representation of people of color, gay and straight alike-it’s clear that the broadcast networks have a ways to go before the accurately reflect the diversity of their audience and society”.
And where is the evidence that the audience is clamoring for more diversity? It certainly isn’t reflected in the ratings where the top shows are a mix of male led crime shows, diversely cast reality shows or female centered programs like Desperate Housewives. How much more diversity do we need?
The networks long ago gave up any pretense that they were trying to provide quality programming. It’s all about the ratings and the profits that can be generated from their shows. If featuring more gays, lesbians women etc? on a show will increase ratings and profits the networks will fall over themselves to provide it. As for a commitment for gays on television, NBC stuck with Will and Grace for eight years defying predictions of a quick demise for the show.
For groups like GLAAD the lack of diversity charge is just a smokescreen. They have an agenda. It is to convince the audience that the gay lifestyle is completely normal. The lower the number of gay characters the smaller their chances are of changing public opinion. Now isn’t that a shame?