Sitcoms cancel homosexuality

By Britany Wright
October 11, 2007

Photo by Ron Tom/ABC

Network television has begun to cancel homosexual characters from their sitcoms while cable television has cast more this year. The organization, Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, GLAAD, is in upset over the decrease of homosexual characters on network television.

In a study of homosexuals depicted on television, GLAAD, an organization that strives to eliminate homophobia and discrimination against members of the opposite sex and homosexuality; discovered that in the 2007-2008 season, only seven characters will be homosexual. Six of the seven characters will be produced by ABC network on such shows as “Brothers & Sisters,” “Desperate Housewives,” “Ugly Betty” and “Cashmere Mafia.” The only other network that will be producing a show with a homosexual character will be NBC network in “The Office.” Only 13 homosexual characters will be returning this season.

According to an article in GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies written by Anna McCarthy, Ellen DeGeneres the star of the show “Ellen,” made history by “coming out” on an episode in 1997. DeGeneres was not the first to “come out” on a television show, but she made the biggest impact on viewers because the media coverage of the story was extensive. It is believed that her confession of her personal life through her television character started the liberalization of sitcom’s tight beliefs of homosexuality.

A Web site on religious tolerance has studied the appearances of homosexuality from the past seven years. However, they have only been small moments. The first occurrence of homosexuality on a soap opera, “All My Children,” was not until 2000 when a character confessed she was confused about her sexual orientation.

Liz Donnelly a junior biology major, and Matt Mulligan, a freshman business major, both agreed that the homosexual characters are stereotypical and are written as the comedic character.

Cable television is increasing the amount of homosexual characters as network television censors homosexuality. GLAAD said that 40 homosexual characters will be depicted this season on cable television.

President Neil G. Giuliano of GLAAD said, “While we acknowledge there have been improvements made in how we are seen on the broadcast networks, most notably on ABC, our declining representation clearly indicates a failure to inclusively reflect the audience watching television.”

“I haven’t thought much about it. It doesn’t matter whether characters are homosexual or not. It’s what you like to watch,” said Vanessa Boltersdorf, a freshman undecided major, when questioned about whether or not homosexuality affected her choice in what kind of shows she watched.

CW has the most diverse characters throughout their shows with 32 percent of the characters of varying races. FOX meanwhile has the lowest diversity of characters with 18 percent. CBS and FOX will not have homosexual characters this season. However it comes as a surprise that CW will also not be featuring homosexual characters.

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Britany Wright

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