Where the Girls Were: GLAAD’s report on gay chicks on TV last year


Every year GLAAD does a lot of math and finds out what television networks are being inclusive of LGBTQ characters, themes and stories and ranks them on a scale from excellent to failing. This year, no network reached the top honor, but there were definitely a handful that got an F. (I’m looking at you, TBS!) Because the organization compiles it all, I’m going to break down how women fared over the last year and what looks to change in the upcoming fall season and beyond.

Broadcast Rankings:

The CW should thank Tyra Banks for bringing the gays to the network, including AzMarie Livingston on the last season of America’s Next Top Model. They had Felicia Day on as a lesbian hacker for one whole episode of Supernatural, but at least there is a regular black lesbian character coming on Emily Owens, M.D.

Something Sapphically Sad: 90210 can stop claiming Adrianna as part of their percentage now. She’s made it pretty clear her one-time-lover Gia was a phase.

ABC came in second for Calzona on Grey’s Anatomy, Martina Navratilova on Dancing with the Stars and an episode of Happy Endings where Alex (Elisha Cuthbert) channeled her inner-Ellen. Their score could go back up next year with the recent news that a lesbian couple will be on Modern Family, although it looks like they’re just around for one episode.

Something Saphically Sad: I don’t even want to think about what happens if we lose Callie or Arizona when Grey’s returns.

Glee gives Fox an adequate standing, and we have them to thank for Santana Lopez. But since we lost Thirteen on House and Angela on Bones seems to be off-the-market, we’re going to need some more help in the lesbian department in the next year.

Something Sapphic to Look Forward to: June Diane Raphael will return as Jess’ lesbian gyno friend on New Girl this season, so at least we’ll have something to look forward to. You know, besides Glee.

NBC was helped by reality TV this season, including Fashion Star‘s Kara Laricks and The Voice‘s lesbian/bisexual contestants Sarah Golden and Erin Martin. Their upcoming season will be even better, though, with a lesbian EMT on Chicago Fire and Julie White‘s gay widow on Go On.

Something Sapphically Sad: They still don’t seem to be bringing The Playboy Club back, despite my eternal hopes and dreams.

CBS failed this year, even though The Good Wife‘s Kalinda Sharma is one of the best queer female characters on television. Unfortunately, she can’t do all the work by herself. The network does get points for Peggy Peabody Holland Taylor‘s late-in-life-lesbian status on Two and a Half Men and Brenda, the softball-playing surrogate on Rules of Engagement. If this report did include daytime TV, however, they would have gotten points for The Talk and Bold and the Beautiful.

Something Sapphic to Look Forward to: There’s a lesbian contestant coming up on the new Survivor, so that should be interesting!

Cable Rankings

Showtime took the cake with lesbian kisses on Shameless, a bisexual doctor and pair of divorcing mombians (Nurse Jackie, and the only non-scripted series about lesbians, The Real L Word. The report also hails House of Lies for its lesbian sex scene in the first episode, Nancy’s prison lover on Weeds and its Pride Comedy Jam.

Something Sapphic I Learned: The Borgias‘ Giulia is bisexual. Maybe I need to start watching this show after all.

ABC Family is super lesbian because of Emily Fields and her harem of lady loves, but the two lesbian moms on Secret Life upped their gay female percentage this year, and will continue on that train with Jennifer Lopez‘s upcoming sitcom about even more lesbian moms.

Something Sapphically Sad: Since we lost Maya, we’ll probably also lose her as a point for our team next year. Get to work, JLo.

FX is lucky to have Ryan Murphy because American Horror Story severely helped their score this year. It’s bound to get even better with the Lizzie Borden and other lesbian mental patients we’ll be seeing come October. GLAAD forgot to include Louie‘s lesbian mom, which was a huge oversight. (Not really, but it could have helped the score in the “elderly lesbian” department.)

Something Sapphic to Learn: Archer‘s Pam is sexually adventurous. You know — for a cartoon.

TNT did OK because they had Emily Rios as a recurring lesbian character on Men of a Certain Age. It also had Vanessa Lengies before Glee got her, and she played a lesbian nurse on HawthoRNe.

Something Sapphically Sad: Since both shows are now cancelled, our future on the network doesn’t look too bright.

HBO came in just under the other four, despite having the most omnisexual show ever in True Blood. Other queer female characters named were Rosie O’Donnell playing herself on Curb Your Enthusiasm, a minor Latina lesbian character on How to Make It in America, Taco from Girls and Angela from Boardwalk Empire.

Something Sappically Sad: RIP Queen Sophie Ann, Nan Flanagan, as well as Angela and her Boardwalk lover.

USA was A-OK with Diana Barrigan on White Collar as well as two pairs of lesbian couples on shows like Royal Pains and Fairly Legal. But since GLAAD left the last pair off the report, they might have not factored them in.

Something Sapphically Sad: It doesn’t seem like the network has much in store for us, at least that they are telling us about.

MTV’s The Real World and Challenge gave us some gay females but that was about it, save for the lesbian ex of a bisexual teen on I Just Want My Pants Back. (Not on the report.) But Dan Savage’s It Gets Better special helped the channel, which included some young women.

Something Sapphic to Look Forward to: Real World: San Diego‘s Sam McGinn is coming back to participate in the upcoming challenge show this fall.

While the report touches briefly on some of the other cable networks, it appears that those above were the focus of their findings this year. We did see some lesbian/bisexual/queer women representation on Oxygen (The Glee Project), Lifetime (Army Wives) and Bravo (Tabatha Takes Over, Around the World in 80 Plates). But what the overall findings seem to project is the ongoing need for more positive representations of the LGBTQ community all around, and that will always mean more women and more women of color. It’d also be great to finally see some more lesbian characters that aren’t overtly feminine. Is it possible to have a more androgynous or masculine lesbian as a major character? Could this be the year we see a lesbian finalist on American Idol? Or perhaps a network that isn’t afraid to have more than only one show with a happy lesbian couple. There’s still progress to be made, and that’s what this report is a reminder of every year.