A new study has revealed that LGBTQ representation has increased in the best-rated English language sitcoms.
Increasingly, networks are realizing that audiences want to watch shows that are a reflection of society, and this includes diverse and authentic LGBTQ+ main characters. UK-based online and telephone switching service Uswitch.com have analyzed the best-rated English language sitcoms of the last 50 years to determine how LGBTQ+ representation has changed.
Increased LGBTQ+ Representation on Screens
LGBTQ+ representation in sitcoms has increased. Over half of top-rated modern sitcoms have at least one main character who identifies as LGBTQ+.
10% of all main characters in modern sitcoms identify as LGBTQ+. This has increased from just 1% of top rated classic sitcoms. Of the 81 classic sitcom main characters, only 1 character – Lloyd Lee, played by openly gay Rex Lee in Entourage – identified as LGBTQ+.
Broad City is the most representative LGBTQ+ modern sitcom with half of its main characters identifying as LGBTQ+. While Schitt’s Creek, Modern Family, and Brooklyn Nine-Nine each have two LGBTQ+ primary characters.
Quality of LGBTQ+ Representation
However, it isn’t enough to have representation on screen, the quality of representation matters. We applied the Vito Russo Test to each sitcom to determine if the LGBTQ+ characters added value to the show instead of reinforcing stereotypes.
Award-winning LGBTQ+ Representation
In recent years, many award ceremonies have received criticism for their lack of representation in their award nominations. As a result, many academies are pledging diversity initiatives, including the Bafta Awards who have made 120 changes to its awards in an effort to increase diversity.
The 2020 Emmy Awards saw a record year for authentic LGBTQ+ representation. Schitt’s Creek, won nine awards on the night, and made Emmy history by becoming the only show to ever win all four acting categories in one year. Additionally, many openly identifying members of the LGBTQ+ community were nominated for awards.
While the Golden Globes, Emmys and BAFTAs currently do not have representation awards, there are television accolades that focus primarily on celebrating and awarding representation. The Dorian Awards given by GALECA: The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics honors the best in television, from mainstream shows to LGBTQ+ focused programs. Schitt’s Creek won the best TV comedy and best LGBTQ TV show awards in 2020, while actors of the sitcom also won individual awards for their roles. Killing Eve won best TV drama.
Ultimately, LGBTQ+ representation has improved in top-rated modern sitcoms but networks and award academies must continue to make significant contributions to ensuring diverse and authentic LGBTQ+ characters on our screens.
To read the full study, go here.