NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–When it comes to homosexual characters and themes on primetime television, ABC and the CW lead the pack, a new study says, although all five major broadcast networks have enough such programming to cause Christian families concern.
The study of one year’s worth of programming found that 15 percent of all of ABC’s primetime programming hours during that span contained either homosexual characters or the discussion of homosexuality. The CW was second at 12 percent, followed by CBS (9 percent), NBC (7 percent) and Fox (6 percent).
The first-of-its-kind study was conducted by the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD). The organization also gave the networks grades: ABC was rated “good,” the CW, CBS and NBC “fair” and Fox “poor.” No network received the highest grade of “excellent.” The study, dubbed the “Network Responsibility Index,” examined programming between June 1, 2006 and May 31, 2007.
“While we have made great strides in the ten years since Ellen DeGeneres came out on television, this report shows where work still needs to be done and which networks are failing to represent millions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender viewers,” GLAAD President Neil G. Giuliano said in a statement.
Television, the study noted, has the power of persuasion.
“We know that seeing multi-dimensional LGBT people on television changes public perceptions,” it said. “… The power of the broadcast medium to shape culture and collective consciousness is indisputable.”
The study found homosexual characters and themes on a wide range of programming. Following are some examples:
— ABC led the way with two shows: the drama “Brothers & Sisters,” which included a homosexual son, and the comedy “Ugly Betty,” which had at least two homosexual characters, including a transgender one. “Desperate Housewives” also has two homosexual characters. GLAAD noted that the creators and/or showrunners of the three programs all are openly homosexual. A fourth program, “Grey’s Anatomy,” features a homosexual bartender. “Men in Trees” featured homosexual characters in individual episodes.
— The CW’s second-place showing was due primarily to the reality program “America’s Next Top Model,” which has two homosexual personalities and showcases lesbian or bisexual contestants. Individual episodes of “Veronica Mars,” “All of Us” and “Hidden Palms” had homosexual characters.
— CBS finished third in the study based mainly on its reality programming, five of which included homosexual contestants. Those shows were “Big Brother All Stars,” “Rockstar: Supernova,” “Survivor: Cook Islands,” “Amazing Race 10” and “Amazing Race: All Stars.” The sitcom “The Class” had a leading homosexual character. Three comedies had homosexual characters in individual episodes: “How I Met Your Mother,” “Two and a Half Men” and “The New Adventures of Old Christine.” Even crime dramas such as “CSI,” “CSI NY,” “The Unit,” “Without a Trace” and “Cold Case” had homosexual themes or characters in individual episodes, with “Cold Case” featuring a kiss between two men.
— NBC has three programs with recurring homosexual characters: “The Office,” “Friday Night Lights” and “ER.” Reality shows or programming with homosexual characters, contestants or themes in individual shows were “Heroes,” “30 Rock,” “Las Vegas,” The Apprentice,” “Last Comic Standing” and “Law & Order.”
— Fox finished last, although three of the programs on the list are animated comedies that appeal to younger audiences: “American Dad,” “Family Guy” and “The Simpsons.” All three have recurring characters, with “The Simpsons” showcasing two such characters: Marge’s sister Patty and Waylon Smithers. Programs with homosexual contestants, characters and/or themes in individual episodes were “House,” “Bones,” “The Wedding Bells,” “Trading Spaces: Meet Your New Mommy” and “Celebrity Duets.”
GLAAD noted that ABC helped lead the way in the 1990s in homosexual programming with “Ellen,” when the lead character announced her lesbianism.
“This historic event not only shaped the future of LGBT representation on ABC, but on all of television,” the study said.
Each year GLAAD also releases a preview of the upcoming television seasons and examines what programs have homosexual characters. The preview will be released in early September.