Despite Hits Like Heartstopper, LGBTQ+ Representation On Television Is Actually Decreasing For The Second Year In A Row

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In recent years, it feels like we’ve seen more and more movies and television shows with great LGBTQ+ representation, but what do the facts say? Popular TV shows like Heartstopper, Euphoria, and Queer Eye have placed the queer community at the forefront of major series, but according to a new report, the changing tide is not amounting to more LGBTQ+ representation in broadcast TV. In fact, it’s actually been decreasing now for two years in a row.

The non-profit LGBTQ+ advocacy organization GLAAD released its annual report on primetime scripted series on all of the five broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, The CW, FOX, and NBC). The organization found that series regulars in the queer community for the 2023-2024 season is at 8.6 percent!

LGBTQ+ Representation On Broadcast Television Is The Lowest It's Been In Six Years

This statistic saw a rather big fall from the year prior, which was up to 10.6 percent. And in the 2021-2022 season, the amount of LGBTQ+ series regulars was the highest recorded at nearly twelve percent. This latest statistic shows a troubling downtrend for queer characters on network television.

GLAAD attributed a portion of this decrease to the 2023 WGA Writers Strike and SAG-AFTRA actors strike, but also suggested that quite a few shows that predominantly featured LGBTQ+ protagonists were among recent shows on the chopping block by networks like ABC’s The Rookie: Feds, NBC’s New Amsterdam, and The CW’s Gotham Knights, Riverdale, and Roswell, New Mexico. Additionally, the organization reported that there is “not a single series” on the air right now that has a queer character as the sole protagonist.

In terms of the sexual orientations that are being most represented, gay and lesbian characters led the pack, making for nearly 70 percent. Bisexual characters on TV was at 19 percent this season and there was zero representation for characters who identify as asexual.

The Network With The Most LGBTQ+ Series Regulars 

When it comes to what networks are advocating for queer characters as series regulars, ABC is the strongest network by far, with 15 percent of its characters coming from the LGBTQ+ community. In second place is CBS with 9.2 percent. NBC has just 7.3 percent, The CW has 6.3 percent and FOX was in last place with 5.2 percent. In terms of the transgender community, GLAAD found one trans man, one trans woman and one trans nonbinary character among the 64 total queer characters it found in the 2023-2024 season.

Certainly, many TV watchers are flocking to the best streaming services more and more, rather than broadcast TV, but it’s definitely worth noting the hits LGBTQ+ representation is getting on this front. GLAAD urged broadcast networks to order more series starring queer characters in leading roles to replace those that have been cancelled or concluded. The organization said the networks need to “step up if they want to remain relevant in a world where people continue to turn to other platforms.” You can stay up to date on 2024 TV premieres here on CinemaBlend.

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

Sarah El-Mahmoud has been with CinemaBlend since 2018 after graduating from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in Journalism. In college, she was the Managing Editor of the award-winning college paper, The Daily Titan, where she specialized in writing/editing long-form features, profiles and arts & entertainment coverage, including her first run-in with movie reporting, with a phone interview with Guillermo del Toro for Best Picture winner, The Shape of Water. Now she's into covering YA television and movies, and plenty of horror. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.