2016 Glaad Report Shows Record Levels of Diversity
The latest findings from US media monitoring organisation GLAAD's annual Where We Are on TV report show that the 2016-17 TV season features record numbers of LGBTQ characters. However, GLAAD – whose stated mission is the amplification and empowerment of the LGBT community – stresses that the face-value numbers do not reflect equal treatment.
Firstly, many of those queer characters still portray harmful stereotypes. Secondly, high numbers of gay characters also translated into record numbers of dead lesbian and bisexual women (see the Bury your Gays Trope). Earlier this year, such deaths on Netflix's Orange is the New Black, and The CW's The 100 drew considerable protest from their fan bases. Their narrative presence may be growing, but the LGBTQ community is still frequently portrayed as secondary and disposable.
Additionally, while there is also progress in racial diversity in TV – according to USA Today, a third of characters currently on American television are people of colour – other entertainment sectors haven't been as quick on the uptake.
"TV has done a really good job of having diverse representation, diverse storylines, whereas the movie studios, especially the Big Six, are light years behind," GLAAD president Sarah Kate Ellis told USA Today. Considering that films with diverse casts make more money (UCLA, 2016), this is a detrimental oversight. So, while diverse representation may be at unprecedented levels, there's still a long way to go towards equality.
For more on diversity and audience rejection of storytelling tropes and stereotypes, see our July and September Pop Culture Round-Ups.