Almost a third of queer characters will disappear from screens next year, report finds

·2-min read

Nearly a third of the LGBT+ characters to have featured on US TV over the past year will not be returning in future, a new report has revealed.

Over the period between 1 June 2022 and 31 May 2023, a total of 596 LGBT+ characters were featured on scripted TV.

Of these, 175 will not be returning in the following season, as a result of series being cancelled or coming to a pre-agreed end. The majority of these characters (140) are the result of series being cancelled.

The statistics are taken from the annual report published by the US media monitoring organisation GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation).

The report takes into account LGBT+ characters across scripted primetime broadcast networks, scripted primetime cable networks, and scripted series on the eight major US streaming platforms: Prime Video, Hulu, Netflix, Apple TV+, Disney+, HBO Max, Peacock, and Paramount+.

Sarah Kate Ellis, CEO of GLAAD, describes the significant cancellation rates of LGBT+ “disappointing”.

“Some of the year’s biggest hits have been LGBTQ-inclusive series – including HBO’s The Last of Us, ABC’s Abbott Elementary, FX’s What We Do in The Shadows, Showtime’s Yellowjackets, Netflix’s Stranger Things, and HBO Max’s Hacks, to name only a few,” she wrote in a statement.

“It’s clear that when a service fully invests in its LGBTQ shows, this programming rises above a crowded media landscape and is successful with both critics and audiences.”

One of the reasons for such a high number of disappearing queer characters is, claims the report, the sale of US network The CW.

After The CW was sold to Texas-based media company Nexstar, a number of series were cancelled, including Batwoman, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, and Supergirl.

Kristina Tonteri-Young and Alba Baptista in ‘Warrior Nun’, which was cancelled by Netflix after two seasons (Manolo Pavón/Netflix)
Kristina Tonteri-Young and Alba Baptista in ‘Warrior Nun’, which was cancelled by Netflix after two seasons (Manolo Pavón/Netflix)

These series, along with ABC’s Queens, NBC’s Ordinary Joe, and others, all included “multiple diverse LGBTQ characters who were significant to the series plot”.

Among the other findings contained in the report were the fact that not a single asexual character appeared on US broadcast TV in 2022/23 (though four such characters appeared in streaming shows, all on Netflix).

You can read the full report here.