When it comes to queer representation, TV has made significant strides in the last few years. In 2019, it was announced that a record number of LGBTQ+ characters were featured on our screens (largely thanks to Ryan Murphy’s sorely-missed Pose), and shows like It’s A Sin and Heartstopper have similarly moved the needle. According to a new report from GLAAD, however, things are set to backslide over the course of the next year.
According to statistics from an annual report by the US-based media monitoring organisation (AKA the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation), a total of 596 LGBTQ+ characters were featured on scripted TV shows between June 1, 2022 and May 31, 2023. Almost a third of them, however, are set to go off air in the near future.
More specifically, 175 queer characters are set to disappear from our screens for a new season of TV. In most cases (140), this is the result of series featuring them being cancelled, though the remaining 35 are due to programmes coming to a pre-agreed end.
The report spans a number of networks that run scripted shows, as well as major streaming platforms including Prime Video, Hulu, Netflix, Apple TV+, Disney+, HBO Max, Peacock, and Paramount+.
“Some of the year’s biggest hits have been LGBTQ-inclusive series,” notes Sarah Kate Ellis, CEO of GLAAD, in an introduction to the report. For example, she names shows such as The Last of Us, What We Do in The Shadows, Yellowjackets, Stranger Things, and Hacks. “It’s clear that when a service fully invests in its LGBTQ shows,” she adds, “this programming rises above a crowded media landscape and is successful with both critics and audiences.”
As a result, Ellis says that it’s “disappointing” to see a projected drop in LGTBQ+ representation – especially at a time when “the power of narrative change and inclusive storytelling is more crucial than ever”.
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