NEW YORK — Youth-oriented networks MTV
and the CW devoted larger shares of their prime-time hours to depicting
gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender characters than other television
networks last season, according to a new analysis by the Gay &
Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.
In its fourth annual study, the advocacy group handed out its first "excellent" rating ever to MTV
for the network's widespread and diverse portrayal of homosexual
characters. Forty-two percent of the cable network's original
prime-time programming included content that reflected the lives of gay
and transgender people, including "The Real World: Washington D.C," which featured two bisexual roommates, and "America's Best Dance Crew," which had a dance crew with openly gay members.
The CW received a "good" rating, having devoted 35
percent of its prime-time hours to story lines that included
homosexual, bisexual or transgender representations. "Gossip Girl," "Melrose Place" and "90210" all had significant gay characters.
GLAAD President Jarrett Barrios
said the networks were responding to the expectations of younger
viewers, who are more supportive of gays and lesbians than older
"It's a part of their world, and they in many ways expect it to be included in the shows they watch," Barrios said.
The organization analyzed nearly 5,000 hours of
prime-time shows on the five broadcast networks and 10 top-rated cable
networks. Analysts noted whether gay characters were featured in major
or minor story lines as well as their ethnic and racial diversity.
Among the broadcast networks, Fox moved into second
place behind the CW, with 30 percent of its programming featuring gay
characters, lifted by "Glee's" story line about a gay character's
relationship with his father as well as the presence of Ellen DeGeneres
on "American Idol." Still, the network was rated only "adequate,"
largely because of what GLAAD said were disparaging portrayals of
transgender characters on "Family Guy" and "The Cleveland Show."
ABC continued to have the most hours that featured gay
characters of all the broadcast networks, but a smaller share of its
total prime time than the CW or Fox, with 26 percent. The network was
rated "good," with GLAAD praising the nuanced story lines of two
lesbian doctors on "Grey's Anatomy" and the gay couple on "Modern
NBC came in fourth, improving on last year's "failing" grade with an "adequate" rating. While just 13 percent of NBC's
programming had homosexual characters, many of the depictions were
thoughtful, GLAAD said, particularly on the medical drama "Mercy."
CBS, however, was rated
"failing." Gay characters were featured in just 7 percent of prime
time, mostly from the unscripted shows "The Amazing Race" and "Big
Cable fared better, with GLAAD noting that for the
first time a majority of the networks it surveyed ranked better than
"adequate." ABC Family, TNT, Showtime, Lifetime and HBO all were rated "good," while USA, A&E and TBS received failing marks for their dearth of gay characters.
(c) 2010, Los Angeles Times.
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