TV Line has revealed the results of GLAAD’s “We Are On TV” report, and while the findings show that the number of LGBTQ+ characters — specifically, lesbian, gay, transgender, and queer characters — are at an all-time high for broadcast and streaming media, it also shows just how far behind Disney+ is compared to other services.
GLAAD found that 11.9% of characters on scripted primetime broadcast series were identified as LGBTQ+ — a lift of 2.8 percentage points above last year’s result. TV Line states:
The 2021-2022 TV season also marks the first time lesbian characters represented the majority (40%) of LGBTQ characters on the five broadcast networks, surpassing gay men. Also this season, there are 42 regular and recurring transgender characters tracked across all broadcast, cable and streaming, up from 29 last year.
The significant rise in transgender characters in regular broadcast, cable, and streaming series is hopeful for more increased representation. However, despite their consumer base (one that is largely expanding), as well as their owned brands like Marvel and Star Wars, The Walt Disney Company’s streamer, shockingly had zero transgender characters in its Original Series. As the report notes:
On broadcast-TV, 5 of the 8 transgender characters appear on The CW, while Freeform, HBO and Showtime account for all of cable’s 8 trans characters. Among streamers, neither Disney+ nor Apple TV+ have a transgender character.
The CW won out overall for the most LGBTQ+ representation, bolstered by shows like Batwoman which features a lesbian lead character as well as multiple queer characters in the wider ensemble. Despite this, though, broadcast television still has work to do in featuring LGBTQ+ characters as series leads, the report found.
For Disney+’s category, GLAAD’s report found that streamers:
…[were] the only platform this year where gay men make up the majority of LGBTQ characters (with 33%). Lesbian representation slightly decreased to 27%, while bi+ accounts for 32%. Additionally, streaming scripted originals count 26 trans characters and 11 non-binary characters who are not transgender.
However, in more dismal results for Disney+, it was reported:
Among streamers, the ridiculously prolific Netflix leads with 155 regular or recurring LGBTQ characters, followed by HBO Max (71), Amazon (36), Hulu (36) and Peacock (32). Disney+, Paramount+ and Apple TV+ — each touting 12 total LGBTQ characters or fewer — place a distant sixth through eighth.
Sure, the number of Disney+ Original Series is significantly less than Netflix, which has been building its portfolio of original content for multiple years, but it is rather shocking that Disney+ — a place that houses some of the world’s biggest IPs — is so far down the rankings when it comes to LGBTQ+ character inclusion.
When considered against the even newer HBO Max streaming service, which includes shows like the 2021 Gossip Girl reboot, Disney+ really has a long way to go in giving LGBTQ+ characters a significant voice on the streaming platform.
Shows like High School Musical: The Musical: The Series has introduced new LGBTQ+ characters but when it comes to the big draws — Marvel and Star Wars — the inclusion of queer characters is desolate.
Last year, the Marvel Cinematic Universe seemingly made its first step in making one of its characters bisexual in canon: Tom Hiddleston’s Loki. However, despite the fan-favorite character making the admission mid-series, the show’s creators did not take his bisexual identity any further. Months later, the MCU debuted its first gay character — Brian Tyree Henry’s Phastos in Eternals (2021).
In addition to Disney+’s rankings, GLAAD reported that ABC had a 12.5% mix of LGBTQ+ series regulars in broadcast television, coming third after The CW (17.1%), and Fox (13.3%).
The GLAAD report comes just a couple of weeks after the latest Disney Earnings Call for fiscal Q1. Of the announcements made by Disney CEO Bob Chapek, Disney+ remained top of mind, with the leader stating that the streaming service has been fundamental in building franchises like Encanto (2021). Furthermore, Disney+ will continue to grow rapidly as the Mouse House increases its Original Series output with shows like this year’s Obi-Wan Kenobi, Oscar Isaac’s Moon Knight, and Ms. Marvel, and The Mandalorian Season 3 and Ahsoka sometime in 2023.
Do you think Disney+ is trailing behind when it comes to LGBTQ+ inclusion? Let us know in the comments down below!
You can find shows like The Book of Boba Fett as well as all the Star Wars movies on the streaming platform. Disney+ also features content from Walt Disney Studios, 20th Century Studios (formerly, 20th Century Fox), most of the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies, and new popular films like Free Guy (2021).