GLAAD: Where We Are on TV 2020

GLAAD: Where We Are on TV 2020

The full report was ‘later’ than normal but we’re back with a look into the GLAAD “Where We Are On TV” report for 2020. And what a 2020 it’s been.

A Brief Reminder

I do this every year, but again, a few things to remember. This is US centric report. While GLAAD does look into some international shows, it’s very skewed American.

Also you should know that GLAAD only counts ‘crossover’ characters once. So Carina DeLuca on Greys/Station 19 is only counted one time, even though she’s regular on two shows (or Sara Lance…). We count her once, sometimes. For things like “How many regular queers…” she gets counted twice, but for ‘total characters’ it’s only once.

GLAAD also counts ‘ahead’, where as we only count ‘has aired’:

Counts are based on original scripted series premiering or which are expected to premiere a new season in primetime between June 1, 2020 and May 31, 2021 and for which casting has been announced or confirmed by networks.

Finally, for those unfamiliar, the term ‘linear network’ refers to network television and cable. This is how it’s differentiated from ‘streaming.’ Network television is synonymous with broadcast.

  • Broadcast – ABC, NBC, CBS, etc
  • Linear – Broadcast + TNT, FX, ‘traditional’ cable
  • Streaming – Netflix, HBO Max, etc

Okay! Let’s go!

The Good

  • 90% of transgender characters are played or voiced by transgender actors.
  • Transgender rep overall has doubled on broadcast primetime
  • There is one lesbian asexual character expected in this year’s primetime scripted cable, on Freeform, though further details are under embargo at time of printing

The … not Bad

  • 46% of queer characters on broadcast TV are PoC – this is down 1% but the overall diversity is up on all platforms
  • Characters with disability has increased to 3.5% (from 3.1%) but is still woefully underrepresented

The Bad

  • 9.1% of regulars characters on broadcast TV are LGBTQ (down from 10.2%) — this is the first decrease since 2014
  • Cable TV rep similarly trended down
  • Rep on the major streamers (Amazon, Hulu, Netflix) is also down
  • The number of shows with regular queers is also down
  • Transgender rep was the only LGBTQ+ group to increase the number of characters
  • Male bisexual rep is still under 30% of all bisexuals on TV
  • There remains one asexual character on TV (not Bojack Horseman‘s Todd, a new one whose name is still under embargo so we can’t say who)
  • All characters with HIV/AIDS are on Poseall of them.


GLAAD believes, as do I, that the drop in rep is directly related to COVID-19. The unspoken comment is that since shows with minorities are seen as higher ‘risk’ (that is, the mistaken belief fewer people watch shows about people who aren’t cis/white/heterosexual), they are less likely to be given a chance in this environment. GLAAD cautions:

Every platform must be deliberate in seeking inclusive and diverse programming as they look towards renewals and new slates, as well as ensuring that the decreases seen now do not become a pattern of reverse progress.

Also like us. GLAAD gives the CW top marks for regular characters:

Percentage of LGBTQ series regulars of all series regulars.

Of those five networks, only Fox (!!!) had an increase in regulars. Thanks, Ryan Murphy?

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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