ABC Family joins MTV in earning an “excellent” rating from GLAAD in its just-released fifth annual Network Responsibility Index (NRI), the second network ever to gain the distinction. Among broadcast networks, the CW reigns with the top score.
The NRI tracks the quantity, quality and diversity of images of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in original primetime programming on the five broadcast networks and 10 of the highest-rated cable networks.
According to the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, of 103 hours of original primetime programming on the Disney-owned ABC Family, 55 percent included LGBT-inclusive images that also “reflected the ethnic and racial diversity of the LGBT community.”
“ABC Family did very well this year,” Matt Kane, GLAAD Associate Director of Entertainment Media, told TheWrap. “Not every episode in which a gay and lesbian character was about their sexuality — it was also about their everyday trials and tribulations.”
The non-profit organization scans mainstream media for offensive LGBT images, as well as the amount of time that LGBT characters appear — and portrayals that are more than unidimensional.
“We are looking for shows that organically interweave the characters into the greater themes and plots of the show,” Kane told TheWrap.
The CW, which airs fewer hours in primetime than the Big Four, had 33 percent of its hours scored as LBGT-inclusive, its second year in first place after three years in second.
Fox upped its standing to second with a “Good” rating at 29 percent, a push no doubt generated by the LGBT themes explored on its hit show ‘Glee’.
ABC remained in third place as last year, earning a “Good” rating with 23 percent LGBT-inclusive images. Despite holding third place, the network broadcast the greatest total number of queer-friendly hours at 253.
CBS, although up from 7 percent last year to 10 percent this year and moving from a “failing” to an “Adequate” rating, remained in last place.
“As television audiences get to know our community and the common ground that we all share on the screen and in their own lives, acceptance is growing,” Mike Thompson, Acting President of GLAAD said in a statement. “Inclusive programming is a hit with critics and audiences alike who cheered for Kurt and Blaine’s romance on “Glee” or watched the wedding of Callie and Arizona on “Grey’s Anatomy”.”
The report maintained, however, that transgender characters are lacking in mainstream media. GLAAD reports not a single regular or recurring transgender character on any of the networks it tracked, despite several one-episode stories that came and went.
“Fairly and accurately depicting the transgender community should be seen not just as a responsibility for networks, but as an opportunity,” said Thompson. “There are rich characters and stories yet to be written that would also help networks reflect the full spectrum of the LGBT community.”
Among the 10 cable networks scored — ABC Family, A&E, AMC, HBO, Lifetime, MTV, Showtime, TBS, TNT and USA — a majority received higher than an “adequate” rating, another first.
Showtime (37 percent), TNT (33 percent), HBO (31 percent), Lifetime (31 percent), AMC (29 percent), SyFy (22 percent) and HBO (26 percent) all earned “Good” ratings for the quantity and quality of their LGBT-inclusive original programming.
USA, at 18 percent, improved their score from “Failing” to “Adequate.”
At the bottom of the list, A&E (5 percent), TBS (5 percent) earned “failing” grades for their lack of LGBT-inclusive images for the fourth year in a row.
The complete report can be found here.