We developed a mathematical method of scoring queer shows that generates a numeric score from 0 to 100 for all TV shows in the LezWatch.TV database. This is intended to help people identify shows that are ‘better’ for queer audiences than others.
A Brief History
In June of 2017, Mika developed the first ‘formula’ that would later become show scoring while waiting in line for a taping of One Day at a Time. The system was soft-released in August, and by October 2017 the first iteration of the scoring system was made public. The formulas were tweaked and adjusted, in order to give more weight to important aspects of shows (and less to others), until March 2018, when the second (and current) release was made. Since then, the calculations have been tweaked here and there to continue to reward positive representation on television.
Scoring System Last Updated: 09 September 2018
Every show page has a section in the sidebar for “Is It Worth Watching?” In that section is a mention of each show’s score:
This score enumerates the contextual value of a show. The higher the score value, the better the show is for a queer audience.
How Scores Are Generated
Any time a show is updated (either by itself or by adding new characters to a show), the score is regenerated. The score takes into account four major aspects of any show:
- Show Ratings
- Character Survival Rate
- Character Values
- Tropes of Shows
The scores all total 100 each. They are added together and divided by 4 to generate the overall show score.
In addition, shows receive bonuses for having positive intersectional representation.
When a show is added, we review it’s inherent qualities and award it points based on the following factors:
Thumb Score (more info)
All shows receive an overall ‘worth it’ factor, called the Thumb Score. This is represented by a thumb pointed up or down, or a neutral face in the case of apathy.
- Thumbs up: +10
- Thumbs ‘meh’: +5
- Thumbs down: -10
Basic Worth (more info)
We also evaluate the worth of the show for queerness. These ratings are subjective and self-contextual. That is, the realness of a show is not impacted by the fantastical nature of the show’s setting (like Lost Girl).
- Realness – how realistic are the queers (contextually)
- Quality – how good is the show for queer people
- Screentime – how much screen time do the queer characters get
Those scores are added together and multiplied by 3 for a max of 30.
Stars (more info)
All shows have the potential to achieve star ratings based on the queer nature of their production. Not all shows have stars, and the majority will not.
- Gold Star: +20
- Silver Star: +10
- Bronze Star: +5
- Anti-Star: -15 (note: no show has this yet)
Not all shows are for all people. Trigger Warnings reflect the possible problems with shows. If a show is actively detrimental to some viewers, with abuse, or excessive violence, it’s score is downgraded.
- Low: -5
- Medium: -10
- High: -15
Shows We Love (more info)
There are some shows that we collectively decide are absolutely worth everyone’s time an attention. Those shows are rewarded appropriately.
- +40 points.
Character Survival Rate
This is simply a 0-100 value of characters who are alive based on percentages. If a show has 10 characters and 9 are alive, then it gets a 90. If 9 are dead, then it’s The Walking Dead and gets a 10. If they’re all dead, they get a 0.
The more characters a show has, the more they should be rewarded, especially if the character is positive representation. For that, we allocate points based on the character type, their cliches, and their gender representation. This score is between 0 and 100 points, adjusted by those variables.
There are three basic roles a character can have: regular/main character, recurring character, and guest character. The more regular and recurring characters a show has, the better. If a show only has guest characters, then the representation tends to be negative (like Law & Order: SVU).
- All characters are regulars: 95 points
- All characters are recurring: 40 points
- All characters are guests: 20 points
- Otherwise: between 94 and 21 points
If a show has a mix of character roles, we multiple the regular characters by 4, add that to the number of recurring characters by 2, and add that to one-half the number of guest characters.
Character Clichés and Representation
For every character is played by an out queer actor or has no clichés at all, they are awarded additional points. There are also negative points awarded for poor representation.
- Queer IRL: +2
- No clichés: +1
- Dead: -3
- Trans character played by non-trans actor: -2
The stakes on representation change based on the format of a show. For long running series (like soaps, Doctor Who, and the various Law & Orders), it tends to be more difficult to get extensive representation. On the other hand, web series are generally created with the intent of providing representation. TV Movies and Mini-Series have an incredibly low bar, since they’re a completed story and rely less on ratings to encourage more representation.
- TV Series: No change
- Web Series: Divide score by 1.25 (90 becomes 72)
- Mini Series: Divide score by 1.5 (90 becomes 60)
- TV Movie: Divide score by 2 (90 becomes 45)
Tropes of Shows
The types of tropes a show has also factors into this. There are six types of tropes:
- No Tropes: ‘No Tropes’
- Good Tropes: ‘Happy Ending’ and ‘Everyone’s Queer’
- Maybe Tropes: ‘Coming Out,’ ‘Big Queer Wedding,’ and ‘Subtext Only’
- Ploy Tropes: ‘Erased Queerness’, ‘Happiness then Tragedy,’ ‘Queer For Ratings,’ ‘Queer for Laughs,’ and ‘Queerbaiting’
- Bad Tropes: ‘The Big Bad Queers,’ ‘In Prison’ and ‘Queerbashing’
- Regular Tropes: Everything else
In certain situations, a ‘Maybe’ Trope is a bad one. For example, ‘Big Queer Wedding’ when combined with ‘Queer for Ratings’ usually means the wedding was a one-off character we never saw again. On the other hand, if you combine it with ‘Everyone’s Queer’ then we have a very happy day indeed. Ploy Tropes are those we’ve deemed beneficial to a show for ratings more than positive representation, whereas Bad Tropes are just harmful all around.
Based on a combination of the tropes, we calculate the score using some pre-defined values:
- No Tropes: 100
- Only Good Tropes: 95
- Only Good Tropes and Maybe Good Tropes: 85
- More Bad or Ploy Tropes than Good Tropes: 40
- Only Bad or Ploy Tropes: 25
For any show that is a ‘mixture’ of tropes, we take the percentage of Good and Maybe Good Tropes (minus bad tropes) to the Tropes total for a show. To that, if there are no Ploy Tropes, we add 50. The maximum for this calculation is limited to 75, so a show that’s ‘average’ can’t get above that.
Additionally, if a show has the ‘Bury Your Queers’ trope, it automatically loses 1/3rd of the final trope score.
We award bonuses for positive intersectionality. If a show has been flagged for positive intersectional representation (such as showing interracial relationships, people of color, or people with disabilities), it gets a +3 bonus for each one, up to a maximum of 15. This rewards shows for featuring diversity of the world, beyond LGBT+, in a positive light.
By combining these factors, we’re able to assign a quantitative value to the quality of a show.