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GLAAD Issues Record Number of 'Excellent' Ratings for TV Networks

GLAAD Issues Record Number of 'Excellent' Ratings for TV Networks

GLAAD Issues Record Number of 'Excellent' Ratings for TV Networks

GLAAD's annual Network Responsibility Index report tracked the 15 largest television networks to map the quantity, quality, and diversity of images of LGBT people on TV. Find out how each stacked up here.

GLAAD released its eighth annual Network Responsibility Index on Wednesday, grading the five biggest broadcast and the 10 biggest cable networks on the images of LGBT people each network depicted during the 2013/14 TV season.

Nearly 3,000 hours of network primetime programing and 2,292 hours of cable primetime programing were examined from June 1, 2013 to May 31, 2014 among 15 cable and broadcast networks. Based on the overall quantity, quality and diversity of LGBT representation found on each program, a grade was assigned to each network: Excellent, Good, Adequate, or Failing.

For the first time, GLAAD awarded three separate networks with an Excellent rating in the same year, noting an overall improvement in LGBT visibility on TV.

“Television networks are playing a key role in promoting cultural understanding of LGBT lives around the world, and are now producing some of the best LGBT-inclusive programming we've yet seen,” said GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis in a statement. “As they move forward with new programs and storylines, networks must also keep an eye towards diversity and strive to include significant transgender content comparable to those efforts being made by their online competitors, such as Netflix's Orange is the New Blackand Amazon's Transparent.”

On the following pages, see how each network was ranked and rated in GLAAD’s eighth annual Network Responsibility Index.


2013/14 Rating: Good

The network of Will & Grace has grown to expand its LGBT-inclusive hours of air time not only with scripted series, but reality shows like The Voice, The Biggest Loser, America's Got Talent, and Hollywood Game Night. Then there's old and new scripted series such as One Big Happy, Crossbones, Chicago Fire, The Night Shift, Hannibal, Parenthood, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and Undateable. Interestingly, however, GLAAD says a bulk of NBC's LGBT representation came from its recaps of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, which sparked plenty of controversy over that country's so-called anti-LGBT propaganda law. Openly gay former Olympian Johnny Weir provided commentary on figure skating, and a handful of out Olympians like snowboarder Belle Brockoff and speed skater Ireen Wust were some who represented queer people on the network.


2013/14 Rating: Good

GLAAD found 36 percent of FOX’s original programing during the 2013/14 season was LGBT inclusive. Though the number is down from the network’s previous achievement of 42 percent – the current benchmark for a broadcast network – FOX remains one of the most inclusive broadcast networks tracked in GLAAD’s report.  It also featured the most LGBT diversity of any broadcast network, with 43 percent of the LGBT impressions during the 2013/14 season being made by people of color thanks so shows like Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and it was the most trans-inclusive (10 percent) thanks to shows like Glee


2013/14 Rating: Good

ABC has several "firsts" in its history, when it comes to LGBT-inclusive programming, from Jodie Dallas (Billy Crystal) on Soap, and Ellen DeGeneres's big coming out on her eponymous sitcom. The network earned a lot of points with out judge Bruno Tonioli on Dancing With The Stars, and newsmagazine shows such as 20/20 and Primetime: What Would You Do. While GLAAD says ABC could do more to include the stories of LGBT people of color, the network has several scripted series with queer characters: Grey's Anatomy, How to Get Away with Murder, Nashville, Revenge, Rookie Blue, Scandal, Mistresses, ModernFamily, ManhattanLove Story, and The Middle.

The CW

2013/14 Rating: Good

The CW’s portion of LGBT-Inclusive hours clocked in at 33 percent during the 2013/14 season, an improvement over the network’s previous score of 28 percent. Not only were reality programs such as America’s Next Top Model, Breaking Pointe, and Capture inclusive, but scripted shows on the network broke new ground as well. Both The Vampire Diaries and its spin-off series The Originals featured gay male characters for the first time in franchise’s shared universe. Meanwhile, Arrow became the first superhero TV series to feature a reoccurring LGBT character with the introduction of Black Canary and the revelation that she had been in a relationship with a female assassin named Nyssa – with whom she reunited during the season finale. The final season of The Carrie Diaries continued to feature Walt as a major character featuring storylines that saw him dealing with being kicked out of his home after his parent discover he is gay, and being confronted with the AIDS epidemic after his boyfriend’s ex tested positive. 


2013/14 Rating: Adequate

In less than a decade, CBS has tripled its number of LGBT-inclusive hours of air time. Though CBS has struggled to compete as fiercely with the other networks in showing LGBT characters and story lines, the gap has shrunk dramatically, according to GLAAD. The Good Wife, Under The Dome, The McCarthys, Mike & Molly, Mom, Elementary, The Millers, and Two And A Half Men all include either guests or regular characters that fall under the LGBT character umbrella. "CBS has established positive momentum with their increasing LGBT content, and was even one of the few networks to feature multiple appearances by transgender characters across its programming," GLAAD wrote in its analysis of the network. "Some old habits die hard however, and borderline offensive humor continues to be a consistent feature of the network's comedy lineup on shows like Mike & Molly, 2 Broke Girls, and Two and a Half Men, even as they bring in new characters and storylines."

ABC Family

2013/14 Rating: Excellent

While ABC Family’s score dropped eight percent this year, the network still scored an admirable 42 percent LGBT-inclusive primetime programing hour. It also took the top spot among cable networks for LGBT people of color (57 percent) and the highest number of lesbian impressions (90 percent) thanks to characters like Emily on Pretty Little Liars and Lena on The Fosters. GLAAD not only praised the network for these high-profile series, but also for including recurring LGBT characters or one-off episodes in many other shows that were aired over the year – including deaf lesbian teen Natalie and the gay character Renzo (played by out actor Alec Mapa) on Switched at Birth.


2013/14 Rating: Good

Fox's cable companion has had queer stories and characters since its beginning 20 years ago, but as GLAAD writes, the network has not always been the best at gauging the "line between 'edgy' and 'offensive.'" Still, newer shows like The Americans, Fargo, Archer, The Bridge, The Strain, and Chozen all have prominent LGBT characters and storylines.


2013/14 Rating: Good

Though Showtime continued to air positive inclusive programs such as Shameless and  Masters of Sex, GLAAD points out the network had a few missteps this year as well. The new series Ray Donovan got off to a rocky start. “The first season included a storyline about a male actor ‘caught’ in an affair with a transgender sex worker, for which Ray's ‘solution’ to the situation was to instead place the actor with an overdosed female corpse, effectively sending the message that the show considered that to be a preferable alternative,” GLAAD explains in the report. Given Showtime’s history of groundbreaking original series like Queer as Folk (2000) and The L Word(2004), GLAAD believes the network “can do better.” 


2013/14 Rating: Excellent
The youth-driven network earned its second consecutive "Excellent" ranking with its shows, Faking It, and Teen Wolf as well as several unscripted shows making the lineup featuring LGBT figures like The Challenge and Catfish.


2013/14 Rating: Adequate

GLAAD points out that “the bulk of TLC’s LGBT impressions are still on shows in which gay men help women choose clothes and dresses, usually for weddings.” The gay stylists featured on shows such as Say Yes to the Dress, Randy to the Rescue, Something Borrowed Something New and What Not to Wear were responsible for most of the network’s 96 hours (17 percent) of LGBT inclusive programing. However, GLAAD also applauded the network for the inclusion of “Uncle Poodle” on the hit reality series Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. “For a family that likes to call themselves 'rednecks,' the Thompsons' unconditional love for their [gay] uncle challenges the preconceptions of many viewers and makes them a model of acceptance,” explains GLAAD.


2013/14 Rating: Excellent

The network is always present at LGBT-focused entertainment events such as Outfest, and even with its small number of series, compared to the broadcast networks, it still will have the most LGBT characters compared to any other network, with a total of 15 regular or recurring characters with air time last season. Between Getting On, Looking, True Blood, Game of Thrones, Girls, HBO Programming president Michael Lombardo credits the creators and producers of the shows that continue to present queer stories and characters. "This recognition from GLAAD belongs to those in the writing room, on set and in the editing bay but we are honored to be their partner and provide a home where they can tell their stories," Lombardo said. "At HBO we feel if we are not telling diverse stories then we are missing out on some of the best stories. It is a part of our history and an ongoing commitment." This is in addition to shows like Real Sports with Bryant Gumble, which include reported segments on LGBT athletes like MMA fighter Fallon Fox, and the catalog of LGBT-focused movies and documentaries like The Battle of amfAR or The Normal Heart.


2013/14 Rating: Adequate

One of the strongest new gay characters to appear this year came in the form of Hank on USA’s Sirens. GLAAD applauded the comedy series for not only including the black gay character as one of the its leads, but for also giving him large amounts of screen time, and “as many good lines and funny moments as his straight male coworkers. The report also highlighted the inclusion of gay football player Rex as a recurring character on Necessary Roughness. Nevertheless, USA’s record amount of LGBT-inclusive programming last year (20 percent), only fell three percentage points this year due to the cancellation of Political Animals and the reduced screen time of the queer F.B.I. Agent Diana Barrigan on White Collar.  


2013/14 Rating: Failing

In the last year, TNT has actually cut its number of hours that LGBT people were represented by half. Most notably, Major Crimes (a spin-off of The Closer), has a gay regular character, medical examiner Dr. Morales, as well as teenage runaway Rusty. As GLAAD writes, "the number of inclusive hours on TNT should increase provided [Rusty] remains a regular character on the show." The organization added that the network should strive to be more inclusive on other programs since shows like Rizzoli & Isles and Franklin & Bash have significant LGBT fan bases.


2013/14 Rating: Failing

With the exception of the reality series Storage Wars: New York – which regularly features gay couple Chris and Tad who own an antique shop in Jersey – LGBT-inclusiveness was a rare find on A&E. The network only improved its score by one percentage point (from 5 percent to 6 percent) with a majority of LGBT impressions coming from Storage Wars: New York and the rest of the impressions coming from minor gay characters on a handful of programs. 


2013/14 Rating: Failing

History's programming was originally chock full of non-fiction and historically base shows, which changed when docuseries like Ice Road Truckers and Ax Men became hits on the cable network. According to GLAAD, History produces more hours of original programming than nearly any other cable network tracked by the organization, but it has earned its third consecutive failing grade. History tends to lean heavily on reality series based on blue collar jobs in southern settings, which are not inherently ripe with diversity. Still, GLAAD says these shows could be great opportunities for inclusion. "Particularly in many parts of the country where old prejudices remain, it's important that the stories of the LGBT people and families that live there make it out to a wider audience," the report says.

Read GLAAD's complete Network Responsibility Index report here

Read GLAAD's complete Network Responsibility Index report here and check out The Advocate’s list of 19 Shows LGBT Viewers Can’t Miss This Fall.

Advocate Channel - HuluOut / Advocate Magazine - Jonathan Groff and Wayne Brady

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