The Numbers are in: Television Networks are Answering the Call for Representation of LGBTQ Characters, POC, and Women

JULES VAUGHN (HUNTER SCHAFER) AND RUE BENNETT (ZENDAYA), HBO’S EUPHORIA Belatina

LGBTQ representation on television is at record high levels, according to the annual Where We Are on TV” report compiled by GLAAD. The report determined that LGBTQ characters currently account for over 10 percent of the total number of regular characters on scripted primetime broadcast TV today. Importantly, this increase met last year’s call from LGBTQ advocates who demanded more visibility as a way to tell their stories to broad audiences, including to viewers who, for example, may not be acquainted with someone who is trans or HIV positive. “Last year, GLAAD called on the broadcast networks to ensure that 10 percent of primetime broadcast scripted series regulars were LGBTQ by 2020,” the report reads. “In just one year, the networks met and exceeded this call.”

While including LGBTQ characters in pop culture is critical on its own, GLAAD emphasized that effective representation is more than just a numbers game. ”It is not enough just to have an LGBTQ character present to win an LGBTQ audience’s attention,” Sarah Kate Ellis, the president and CEO of GLAAD, told CNN over the weekend. “There needs to be nuance and depth to their story, and the slate of characters should reflect the full diversity of our community.”

Pose Cast Indya Moore
Photo Credit IG @poseonfx

With a show like Pose, FX is one network that comes to mind — and it turns out that the network has been putting in a concerted effort to diversify its creative teams from the top down. After all, a more diverse team of creatives necessarily presents a more complete reflection of the diversity of its audience. According to John Landgraf, the productions chairman at the network, the writers for FX’s original series are now a majority-minority: Upwards of 60 percent of its writers are women and people of color. These figures come several years after the network was found by Variety to have the whitest, most male-dominated roster of directors on its shows in comparison to other cable networks, with women or people of color accounting for just 12 percent of its directorial talent.

Landgraf spoke about this influx of representation over the weekend at a Hollywood-related event, explaining that he had been embarrassed by the revelation that there was such a lack of diversity within the network. He personally took the blame and described the white maleness of FX in 2014 and 2015 as a “failure of leadership.” He added, now, that over half of its directors were women in the last cycle of its series, and that he had intentionally championed narratives that featured marginalized characters and stories that typically are overlooked by major networks — shows like Pose, which have been honored with a slew of nominations and wins at major awards shows. “Our organization is better, in every respect, for having embraced the potential of our entire society,” he said.