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Friday, July 23,2010

GLAAD gives MTV, the CW high marks for character diversity

By McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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 generations.

"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 Family."

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 Brother."

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.

Visit the Los Angeles Times on the Internet at http://www.latimes.com/

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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