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