Streaming services have more LGBT characters than network TV

By : Jeremy Williams
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You are more likely to find an LGBT character in a series on your favorite online streaming media provider than on network television, according to recent report from GLAAD.

The LGBT media watchdog group crunched the numbers and found that streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime featured 43 regular LGBT characters across 23 series such as Orange is the New Black, Grace and Frankie, Transparent, Sense8 and The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.

That is more LGBT characters on streaming services than all network channels combined.

Of the 118 primetime scripted shows, only 35 LGB characters were found. The T being left off was no accident either as no show on network television has a transgender character.

LGBT characters seem to help with ratings as some of the top rated shows on network TV feature them such as Empire, Modern Family and How to Get Away with Murder.

One surprising figure in the network numbers is the fact that several superhero shows showed up on the list. Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Arrow both introduced new LGB characters in their recent season.

Cable television faired pretty well increasing their numbers of regular LGBT characters to 84, up from 64 last year. With recurring characters bumping up from 41 to 58 that brings the overall representation of LGBT characters on cable to 142.

Cable’s biggest champions of LGBT characters are ABC Family and the premium channel Showtime, both boast 18 regular and recurring LGBT characters. The two networks are also the only cable channels with transgender character representation.

While GLAAD president Sarah Kate Ellis called the figures “tremendous progress,” the report does point out that women are still under-represented on network television, making up 43 percent of the characters on primetime television in spite of the fact that women are 51 percent of the American population.

“There is still a great deal of work to be done and many new and exciting stories to be told. We will continue to applaud networks and streaming services telling these stories – and hold their feet to the fire when they don’t,” Ellis said.

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