Toronto Diary
2 min

Gay characters dropping off TV (but not for long)

We're almost at the summer months, which means it's time for major TV networks to start announcing which shows are returning for the fall schedule, which are about to be cut, and what new content will be making it to prime time. One of the most surprising trends seems to be the sudden drop-off of new characters: many of the shows getting das boot not only feature gay characters, but involve them as primary characters.

An October 2012 survey of U.S. broadcast TV by The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation found a record number of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender characters. It was the 17th survey by GLAAD and it pronounced itself well pleased with what it calls “inclusive programming.” The next survey will probably find a very different situation. The cancellation of NBC’s The New Normal and CBS’s Partners, which both featured gay couples, is not the only change. The number of cancelled shows with gay characters is very long – Don’t Trust the B–– in Apt. 23, Malibu Country, 90210, Emily Owens, M.D., The Office, The L.A. Complex and Smash, for a start. And then there is the matter of Glee. It is unclear which characters will return, including Brittany (Heather Morris) the hilarious, scene-stealing, bisexual cheerleader. [SOURCE]

This seems kind of disheartening, but consider this: regular gay characters are mostly concentrated in new shows. Most of the shows that were cancelled? New shows. Newer material is hit-or-miss when it comes to getting picked up for additional seasons, but it's also where gay characters are more likely to pop up because their core casts tend to be more reflective of the current climate. New shows will bring in more gay characters while old shows are cycled out.

Case in point, some of the new shows getting picked up for next fall include a show, starring out actor Jonathan Groff, which is being billed as a gay male version of Girls, as well as a new sitcom starring Sean Hayes playing a gay father. When you factor in the number of new shows that will feature as-of-yet unrevealed regular LGBT characters, it all evens out a little. We'll see how it plays out, but cautious optimism is probably the safest route here.

Tl;dr version: a bunch of gay characters are getting cancelled, but more will pop up eventually. 

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