LGBT media group GLAAD released its Network Responsibility Index (NRI) this week scoring networks on their depictions of LGBT characters and themes.
The fifth annual NRI maps the “quantity, quality and diversity” of LGBT people in primetime programming across five broadcast networks and 10 cable networks.
ABC Family is the star of the fifth release. The network is only the second in the history of the NRI to score an “Excellent” rating from GLAAD, with 53% of ABC Family’s 103 hours of programming containing “LGBT-inclusive images which also reflected the ethnic and racial diversity of the LGBT community.”
“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 Anatomy.”
“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.”
NEXT PAGE: How the Networks scored.
Of Broadcast Networks, the CW held on to the top-spot with 33% LGBT-inclusive primetime programming hours. Perhaps surprising to some, Fox came in second at 29%, and both networks earned a “Good” from GLAAD this year.
ABC stuck at third place with 23% of its primetime hours featuring LGBTs. This got ABC a “Good” rating because of the strong quality of LGBT images. It should be noted, however, that the network broadcast the greatest total number of LGBT-inclusive hours (253).
Last and most certainly least is CBS with just 10% of LGBT-inclusive hours in its primetime programming. However, while CBS got a “Failing” score last year, it has at least managed to scrape an “Adequate” this time around. Still, must do better.
Over to Cable Networks, where we’re seeing a wash of “Goods” for Showtime (37%), TNT (33%), HBO (31%), Lifetime (31%), AMC (29%), and Syfy (22%).
There was some positive news where the USA network is concerned. Last year it got a big Fail for having just 4% of its primetime hours containing LGBT themes. This year USA’s score jumped to 18%, which scrapes the network an “Adequate.”
Trailing way behind, is A&E (5%) and TBS (5%).
NEXT PAGE: Lack of Trans inclusiveness on TV.
GLAAD is eager to point out, however, that while some networks are clearly making strides in their LGBT-friendly programming, all networks could stand to improve in one area, and that is their depictions of the trans community.
More from the GLAAD press release:
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 Mike 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.
GLAAD will release its 16th Annual GLAAD Where We Are On TV report 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.