Timid networks leave LGBT shows in dark

By |2018-01-15T22:04:54-05:00September 21st, 2006|Uncategorized|

You’d think with two gay cable networks – and several homo-friendly ones – broadcast networks would realize that LGBT people tune into the tube. Apparently that wasn’t the case when network executives planned their 2006-2007 line-ups.
Sure, there are queer supporting roles – albeit with little diversity as far as race and gender – but only one broadcast network show gets full-time treatment on CBS’s “The Class.”
It’s understandable why networks have been shy about bringing gay folks of various backgrounds to the forefront, especially during a time when the medium faces scrutiny by conservatives. But that doesn’t mean it’s tolerable.
Much of this may come down to money. Advertising dollars, to be exact. This shift away from LGBT content may be connected to pressure from conservative groups on advertisers, combined with threatened or real boycotts. If this is true, it is a fatal flaw on the part of shows who are scared to push the envelope.
The LGBT community has deep pockets. Traditionally, we have more expendible income than our straight counterparts. By accurately representing us on the small screen, increased ratings and support of advertisers surely will follow.
Some argue that television is a reflection of our society. So, are gay folk so invisible to people that broadcast networks can’t find a place for them?
“There is no legitimate reason why the casts of any of the ‘Law & Orders’ or ‘CSIs’ or a ‘Boston Legal’ doesn’t include a gay lawyer, cop, detective or forensic investigator,” said Damon Romine, GLAAD entertainment media director.
And is the idea of an out homosexual so foreign to television viewers that networks have relied on middle-aged men in denial to fill that void? It only makes sense after the success of “Brokeback Mountain.”
NBC raised the bar with its queer smash hit “Will & Grace,” which featured Will, a gay lawyer, and Jack, a struggling stage actor. Although, Jack’s flamboyant character was stereotypical, the show pushed the envelope with gay lip-locks that weren’t hyped in promo ads.
Looks like – after the demise of “Will & Grace” – gay folk will have to tune into cable this fall since broadcast networks continue to neglect giving us a fair face. Cable networks like FX, Showtime and HBO are fortunate enough to escape restrictive FCC laws and traditional advertising pressures. As a result, they take risks that ultimately reward viewers and present a more inclusive vision.

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BTL Staff
Between The Lines has been publishing LGBTQ-related content in Southeast Michigan since the early '90s. This year marks the publication's 27th anniversary.