Growth of Representation

Growth of Representation

Now that we have the data showing how many characters are on-air per year, we’re able to look at the representation and how it grows from year to year.

Peak TV vs Queer TV

We already know a few things going on. First, Peak TV’s growth isn’t over. Scripted television continues to increase. With the advent of more and more streaming channels, networks are able to experiment with new formulas for story telling. They’re also increasing the sheer number of shows, scripted and not, with varying degrees of success.

And with the relatively news that Netflix is struggling to get more subscribers and the reports that they’re not attracting as much top talent, the spread of where we subscribe is only going to grow as well.

With that, one might think that the volume of Queer TV would grow commensurately, however that has been proven not to be the case. Since 2017, the number of shows on air has decreased.

As you can see, the basic ratio remains the same for shows, though the crossover of growth (where canceled outpaced new shows) occurred in 2017.

Fewer Shows, Fewer Characters

It’s only now, with that new data, that we’re able to see the impact that has on characters on air. And when we look at all the data compared to it self, we can see that the growth of shows directly impacts that of characters.

It’s logical to have fewer characters on air if you have fewer shows. However, to have such a precipitous drop like this, where we’re behind last year by over 300 characters, is startling.

Given that we have 1.65 characters per show, the drop is double what one might expect.

Characters and Death

As always, we also want to look at the impact this has on the number of dead characters per year. You would expect that growth to mimic that of the number of characters on air, however instead what we see is that death is a steadier line.

The implications here is that the number of characters who die per year has absolutely no relation at all to the number of characters. That relies somewhat on an assumption that the people making the decision to kill off characters have no data on the percentages.

YearCharactersDeadPercent
2019529254.73%
2018843344.03%
2017817394.77%
2016733466.28%
2015689395.66%
2014489255.11%
2013451275.99%
2012321175.30%
2011306165.23%
2010273124.40%
200924972.81%

The percentage of death clearly has no relationship to the volume of characters over all.

Where does this take us?

Clearly my predictions for 2019 are not correct. We won’t get 300 more characters in three months. We still may get the ten more dead characters, as winter sweeps will be upon us before we know it.

One thing to note: those 300 characters do not have to be new characters. So there may be some returning favourites, but even so, many of those are already listed because they were on air for the 2018-2019 season.

I don’t know where the 2019-2020 season will take us, but at least I know we get Batwoman.

About Mika A. Epstein

Mika has been deep in fandom since she could say 'Trekkie.' With decades experience in running fansites, developing software, and organizing communities, she's taken on the challenge of delving into the recesses of television for queers long forgotten. Making this site with Tracy is nothing short of serendipity. Mika lives with her wife and their cats in Southern California. Of course she has a hybrid, but she'd rather ride her bicycle.

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