For the first time in the same year, three networks, ABC Family, HBO, and MTV, set the standard of excellence according to GLAAD’s eighth annual Network Responsibility Index. The ranking reflects the overall quality and diversity of LGBT characters represented across each network.
For MTV, shows like Awkward and Faking It, have helped it maintain its “Excellent” ranking for a second year in a row. The same goes for ABC Family, which is home to the acclaimed series, The Fosters. On the opposite end, A&E, History, and TNT received failing grades.
In addition to the network rankings, GLAAD reports that the 2014-2015 season features an increase of LGBT characters in significant roles making of 3.9 percent of series regulars in primetime shows. The number is up slightly from 3.3 percent last season. Among the 32 scripted LGBT characters across the five broadcast networks are Connor Walsh (Jack Falahee) on ABC’s How to Get Away with Murder and Capt. Ray Holt (Andre Braugher) on FOX’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine. FOX leads the other networks with 6.5 percent of its regular characters being gay, lesbian or bisexual.
GLAAD also issued a mandate for more positive transgender content on TV. While it notes 2014 for “beginning a trans media moment,” there’s still a lot of ground to make up especially in the depiction of transgender characters. Up until this year, transgender characters were largely seen in negative or villainous roles. Aside from Candis Cayne’s role on the short-lived ABC series, Dirty Sexy Money, there have been few significant transgender roles on primetime TV.
While this year has represented a major shift in content with two series, Orange Is the New Black and Transparent, featuring transgender characters in a lead role. However, both shows “air” exclusively on online platforms and are not represented in GLAAD’s overall report.