GLAAD's 'Where We Are on TV' Report: Women and Lesbians Underrepresented

At the launch of the 2011-2012 television season, the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) Where We Are on TV report estimates that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) scripted characters represent 2.9% of all scripted series regular characters on the five broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, The CW, Fox and NBC). Mainstream cable networks’ scripted LGBT series regulars have also dropped in the upcoming season.
By: Boo Jarchow
September 28 2011 5:43 PM

At the launch of the 2011-2012 television season, the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) Where We Are on TV report estimates that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) scripted characters represent 2.9% of all scripted series regular characters on the five broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, The CW, Fox and NBC), which is a decrease from last year’s 3.9%. Mainstream cable networks’ scripted LGBT series regulars have also dropped in the upcoming season.

The overall diversity of regular characters on primetime broadcast television in terms of gender, race, sexual orientation and people with disabilities is still not an accurate reflection of the American population. Women still only account for 43% of series regulars on primetime broadcast television despite making up over half the US population. ABC is the only broadcast network to accurately reflect the higher percentage of women in the population 51.4% of female characters.

The lack of gender diversity is even more disparate for lesbian and bisexual characters who make up only 33% of LGBT representations on primetime broadcast scripted series.  Of the 33 LGBT characters counted on scripted broadcast primetime television, five (16%) are lesbians and six (19%) are bisexual women.

When it comes to regular lesbian representations, Dr. Arizona Robbins (Jessica Capshaw) on Grey’s Anatomy is joined by the recently out Santana Lopez (Naya Rivera) on Glee and newcomer Alice (Leah Cudmore) on The Playboy Club. The regular bisexual female characters consist of Callie Torres (Sara Ramirez) on Grey’s Anatomy, Adrianna Tate-Duncan (Jessica Lowndes) on 90210, Angela Montenegro (Michaela Conlin) on Bones, Kalinda Sharma (Archie Panjabi) on The Good Wife and Brittany S. Pierce (Heather Morris) on Glee.

On cable television, the gender divide is also unbalanced, although slightly better than on broadcast networks. Of the 54 total LGBT characters, 20 (37%) are female – 14 lesbians and six bisexual characters. The most recent season of True Blood featured bisexual Tara Thornton (Rutina Wesley), her girlfriend Naomi (Vedette Lim) and vampires Pam De Beaufort (Kristin Bauer) and Nan (Jessica Tuck). ABC Family’s Pretty Little Liars features lead character Emily Fields (Shay Mitchell) and her ex-girlfriend Maya St. Germain (Bianca Lawson). Shameless has three lesbian and bisexual women in recurring roles with Monica Gallagher (Chloe Webb), Bob (Carlease Burke) and Jess (Missy Doty).

Check out the complete list of female characters that are lesbian or bisexual below. Also, be sure to view the full list of LGBT characters and shows that made GLAAD’s Where We Are on TV list.

Leading Characters – Broadcast

Callie Torres (Sara Ramirez), ABC - Grey’s Anatomy, Bisexual

Leading Characters – Cable

Emily Fields (Shay Mitchell), ABC Family – Pretty Little Liars, Lesbian

Supporting Characters – Broadcast

Adrianna Tate-Duncan (Jessica Lowndes), The CW – 90210, Bisexual

Angela Montenegro (Michaela Conlin), Fox – Bones, Bisexual

Santana Lopez (Naya Rivera), Fox – Glee, Lesbian

Brittany S. Pierce (Heather Morris), Fox – Glee, Bisexual

Arizona Robbins (Jessica Capshaw), ABC – Grey’s Anatomy, Lesbian

Alice (Leah Renee), NBC – The Playboy Club, Lesbian

Supporting Characters – Cable

Angela Darmody (Aleksa Palladino), HBO – Boardwalk Empire, Bisexual

Fiona Coyne (Annie Clark), TeenNick – Degrassi, Lesbian

Kelly (Vanessa Lengies), TNT – HawthoRNe, Lesbian

Dr. Eleanor O’Hara (Eve Best), Showtime – Nurse Jackie, Bisexual

Lucretia (Lucy Lawless), Starz – Spartacus: Vengeance, Bisexual

Pam De Beaufort (Kristin Bauer), HBO – True Blood, Lesbian

Tara Thornton (Rutina Wesley), HBO – True Blood, Bisexual

Diana Barrigan (Marsha Thomason), USA – White Collar, Lesbian

Recurring Characters – Broadcast

Sophia Russo (Kelli Giddish), CBS – The Good Wife, Bisexual

Brenda (Sara Rue), CBS – Rules of Engagement, Lesbian

Patty Bouvier (Julie Kavner), Fox – The Simpsons, Lesbian

Recurring Characters – Cable

Emily (Alison Louder), SyFy – Being Human, Lesbian

Joyce Ramsay (Zosia Mamet), AMC – Mad Men, Lesbian

Maya St. Germain (Bianca Lawson), ABC Family – Pretty Little Liars, Lesbian

Nora Underwood (Anne Ramsay), ABC Fmaily – The Secret Life of the American Teenager, Lesbian

Bob (Carlease Burke), Showtime – Shameless, Lesbian

Jess (Missy Doty), Showtime – Shameless, Lesbian

Monica Gallagher (Chloe Webb), Showtime – Shameless, Bisexual

Naomi (Vedette Lim), HBO – True Blood, Lesbian

Nan Flanagan (Jessica Tuck), HBO – True Blood, Lesbian

Zoya (Olga Sosnovska), Showtime – Weeds, Bisexual

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