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GLAAD Grades Networks on LGBT Programming: See The Rankings

GLAAD Grades Networks on LGBT Programming: See The Rankings

The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation's annual report on the media's portrayal of LGBT people contains results that range from surprising (ABC Family is rated "excellent") to perhaps not-so-surprising (CBS is rated "adequate" after it was called a "failure" last year). Each year, the GLAAD Network Responsibility Index grades the networks based on the percentage of prime-time programming that featured LGBT characters, and assigns the networks a grade of excellent, good, adequate or failing.

The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation's annual report on the media's portrayal of LGBT people contains results that range from surprising (ABC Family is rated "excellent") to perhaps not-so-surprising (CBS is rated "adequate" after it was called a "failure" last year). Each year, the GLAAD Network Responsibility Index grades the networks based on the percentage of prime-time programming that featured LGBT characters, and assigns the networks a grade of excellent, good, adequate, or failing.

Among the broadcast networks, The CW, Fox and ABC were given high marks for shows like Gossip Girl, Glee, and Grey's Anatomy respectively. Still, gay males make up the bulk of LGBT portrayals in broadcast programming — on average nearly three out of four LGBT-inclusive hours contained gay male impressions — and transgender people were included in only 1% of gay-inclusive programming.

When it comes to cable, premium channels are breaking down barriers with shows like True Blood on HBO and The Real L Word on Showtime. And the big winner among cablers was ABC Family, which posted an 18% increase in LGBT visibility—out of 103 total hours of original prime time programming, 55% included LGBT impressions. Michael Riley, President of ABC Family released a statement to the press, saying, “We’re proud of our programming, and grateful for the recognition from GLAAD. We strive to reflect the rich diversity of our audience and the world around us, including the LGBT community, through strong characters and engaging, authentic storytelling.”

But even with all the progress being made on the small screen, there are still a few networks that could step up their gay inclusion. Check out the grades of the bottom six networks, and what GLAAD says could make them a little friendlier.

NBC = Adequate

1180 Total Hours of Primetime Programming; 167.25 LGBT-Inclusive Hours (15%)

Previous Scores:

2009-10 Score: 13%

2008-09 Score: 8%

2007-08 Score: 6%

2006-07 Score: 7%

Though it did not feature as many gay-inclusive hours as other networks, NBC led the broadcast networks in overall racial diversity of its LGBT characters.

Oscar, the gay accountant on The Office, had an increase in screen time last year, especially after the show introduced a possible love interest. The whole Thursday night line up of comedy shows — Parks and Recreation, Community, Outsourced, and30 Rock — included gay characters or story lines at one point or another through the season. In fact, 30 Rock won a GLAAD Award last year for Outstanding Individual Episode. Among the dramas, Parenthood, Law & Order: SVU, and Harry's Law each had featured stories with LGBT characters. Outlaw and Undercovers, two new shows last season, introduced gay characters, but neither show will return for a second season this fall. And of course there was Prince Poppycock on America's Got Talent, plus the four out contestants on The Voice, and Richard Hatch on Celebrity Apprentice to cover the reality television arena.

GLAAD Recommends: Since Dr. Huang, an openly gay Asian character, won't be returning to Law & Order: SVU, and some of the dramas like Undercovers and Outlaw were canceled, GLAAD is urging NBC to ensure it replaces the lost LGBT characters. It's looking to shows like The Playboy Club and Smash to do just that.

84. Learn to cook with your girlfriend.

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FX = Adequate

82.5 Total Hours of Primetime Programming;
 15.5 LGBT-Inclusive Hours (19%)

Previous Scores:

2009-10 Score: 27%

2008-09 Score: 13%

2007-08 Score: 45%

This arbiter of edgy programming features Archer, the satirical animated spy series with two regular gay and bisexual characters. The show Sons of Anarchy features the ruthless ATF agent June Stahl, a lesbian villain (despite her law-upholding job) who murdered her girlfriend to cover up corrupt activities. The comedy It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia featured episodes on gay marriage, and another with Mac's transgender ex-girlfriend in an episode that GLAAD said was a vast improvement over her first appearance on the show.

GLAAD Recommends: With Terriers and Lights Out canceled, the organization says the network should "introduce a flesh and blood LGBT regular character to one of their existing series or any new ones in development."

85. Go whale watching.

Sons of Anarchy's June Stahl

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USA = Adequate

114 Total Hours of Primetime Programming;
 21 LGBT-Inclusive Hours (18%)

Previous Scores:

2009-10 Score: 4%

2008-09 Score: 12%

2007-08 Score: 4%

USA is all about upholding the law with shows about crime-fighting law enforcement, and attorneys. White Collar's lesbian FBI agent, Diana Berrigan, was upgraded as a series regular during the last season after being a mainly supporting character early on. Diana is also one of the only black lesbians on television. Fairly Legal features Spencer Reed, the gay brother of the main character, though GLAAD said the casual viewer would have no idea that Spencer is gay because his sexual orientation has not been addressed on the show. In Plain Sight featured a story line with a gay couple in the witness protection program, and the show Psych featured a lesbian in a minor role.

GLAAD Recommends: Though Diana's increased prominence onWhite Collar has helped USA's grade, the network still thinks Fairly Legal's producers could do more to increase Spencer's prominence.

86. Foster a pet.

White Collar's Diana Berrigan

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CBS  = Adequate

1110 Total Hours of Primetime Programming; 
114 LGBT-Inclusive Hours (10%)

Previous Scores:

2009-10 Score: 7%

2008-09 Score: 5%

2007-08 Score: 9%

2006-07 Score: 9%

The Good Wife is the only scripted show on CBS to include an LGBT character. Actress Archie Panjabi won an Emmy last year for her portrayal of Kalinda, who is bisexual. This past season also introduced a recurring role for the gay brother of the show's central character, Alicia Florrick. NCIS and The Mentalist, two procedural dramas, had single-episode story lines that included LGBT characters. None of the network's comedies included a regular LGBT character. Instead, a transgender sex worker appeared in one scene of How I Met Your Mother, a gay ex-boyfriend of Molly’s was featured on Mike and Molly, and Charlie had a bisexual girlfriend in one episode of Two and a Half Men.

CBS's stronger inclusiveness was among its reality programming:Big Brother's Ragan; The Amazing Race: Unfinished Business included the Rev. Mel White and his son Mike White, as well as lesbian contestant Keisha, and Luke, who is gay. Keisha and her sister won the season.

GLAAD Recommends: Premiering this fall isTwo Broke Girls, fromSex and the City executive producer Michael Patrick King, and it seems a likely place for an LGBT character. The group also recommends that procedural shows likeCSI and NCIS: Los Angeles stop portraying gay people as victims or pathological killers. 

87. Have a conversation with a younger queer woman, and find out her story.

Archie Panjabi and Julianna Margulies on The Good Wife

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A&E = Failing

290 Total Hours of Primetime Programming;
 14.5 LGBT-Inclusive Hours (5%)

Previous Scores:

2009-10 Score: 3%

2008-09 Score: 1%

2007-08 Score: 4%

A&E has received nothing but failing grades, but at least this year it broadcast more LGBT-inclusive programming than ever. At least 75% of the LGBT-inclusive hours counted on A&E this year can be attributed to Paranormal State’s host Ryan Buell, in addition to popular train-wreck program, Intervention. The scripted series Breakout Kings, features a bisexual inmate named T-Bag.

88. Make a drastic hair change.

The network also aired the documentary,The September Issue, which includes Vogue editor-at-large André Leon Talley.

GLAAD Recommends: The report's writers say that telling A&E there's room for improvement "would be an understatement." They suggest the network do more to venture in depth into the lives of LGBT people featured on its shows. Troubles will become worsened because Buell announced he won't be returning to Paranormal State for a sixth season.

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TBS = Failing

86 Total Hours of Primetime Programming; 
4 LGBT-Inclusive Hours (5%)

Previous Scores:

2009-10 Score: 2%

2008-09 Score: 1%

2007-08 Score: 7%

The amount of LGBT-inclusive hours on TBS has decreased significantly, dipping as low as 1% in the 2008-2009 season. This year the network is at 5%, but that's mainly because it aired the Screen Actors Guild Awards.

Of all of the TBS programming, Are We There Yet? is one of the few shows to feature a gay character. Cedric was a black, gay teen who the family’s daughter developed a crush on until he came out to her. He was on one episode. Ellen DeGeneres' Somewhat Special Special was an hour-long, one-off event hosted by the lesbian comedian.

89. Be supportive to a friend struggling with their sexuality.

Are We There Yet?

GLAAD Recommends: The cancellation of Glory Daze and My Boys will leave a hole in TBS programming. The organization said, "This would be the perfect time to finally introduce a regular (or even recurring) lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender character to one of its shows and start digging its way out of the 'failing' score it’s received for the past four years."

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And now for the great news... 

The CW:

The young network—youthful in actual time on the air, as well as its audience—has gone from having no LGBT characters in its first year to the most inclusive rating of "excellent" touting 33% of prime time programming inclusive of LGBT people. Its most popular shows, including America's Next Top Model, 90210, andGossip Girl have contributed to its high ratings, but GLAAD foresees possible snags since Teddy, 90210's gay character, will not be a series regular next season.


Glee is one of television's most LGBT-inclusive shows, especially with characters Kurt and Blaine, as well as Santana. Short-lived series like Running Wilde and The Chicago Code featured gay characters. However, one of the network's most popular nights, Sunday's animation block, has been gay-inclusive with The Simpsons, The Cleveland Show, andAmerican Dad, as well as trans-inclusive with Bob's Burgers. Through Family Guy's successful ongoing run, the show barely tackled any gay issues last season, as it has in the past. GLAAD recommends that while bisexual Angela on Bones did marry her boyfriend, that the show's producers remember not to completely eradicate her sexual orientation. They also urge the American Idol producers to try featuring an openly gay contestant after the success of NBC's The Voice.

ABC Family:

The only cable network to receive an "excellent" rating, ABC Family was initially founded in 1977 as an extension to Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcast Network. Nowadays, the channel resembles nothing like Robertson's network, with a history of gay-inclusive shows like Kyle XY, and Greek, attracting a loyal, young viewership. Fifty-five percent of the network's prime time programming was LGBT-inclusive, thanks to shows like Pretty Little Liars, The Secret Life of the American Teenager, Huge, and Make It or Break It.

90. Relax in a hot spring.

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Michelle Garcia