Media has the power to change perceptions, and thankfully, there’s been better LGBT representation on TV as compared to movies.
Previously, GLAAD used to release two reports surveying LGBT representation on TV: the Network Responsibility Index for television and Where Are We On TV.
However, with most networks already showing LGBT representation on TV (no matter how little), the organization decided to focus on the quality instead of the quantity of this representation and stopped producing the Index.
The focus on quality is especially important, given the recent trend of TV tropes like ‘Bury Your Gays’ and ‘Dead Lesbian Syndrome’ in 2015 and 2016.
Because of these tropes, the Twitter hashtag #LGBTFansDeserveBetter even gained currency as a result.
With all this in mind, we decided to look back at some of the better LGBT representation on TV, specifically with TV sitcoms.
Because, hey, if you’re going to make us laugh at queer folks, you better do it properly by depicting positive LGBT characters and themes.
Orange Is the New Black (2013 – present)
Again and again, OINTB proves to be the model of queer television.
The show positively portrays sexuality as fluid and flexible, having at least a dozen diverse bisexual and lesbian characters.
Piper (Taylor Schilling), the protagonist, is a bi who has only been with ladies ever since she ditched her man after season 2.
A huge plus to OINTB is also having trans actress Laverne Cox in the cast.
Glee (2009 – 2015)
Inconsistent, disheveled, momentarily magical – that’s what the six seasons of Glee on Fox was.
But most importantly, it was very queer with lesbian characters, trans football coaches, and glorious gay musical numbers galore.
Glee gave the LGBT community a strong representation that we never thought we’d get see on television.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine (2013 – present)
Ray Holt (Andre Braugher), a tough no-nonsense police captain, commands the respect of his officers and gets the job done, albeit being surrounded by crazy, unruly cops.
He’s also gay, being happily married to a handsome professor, and the loving parents of an adorable corgi.
Being the moral center of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Holt is no caricature but rather a well-rounded character with his sexuality only one aspect of it.
Broad City (2014 – present)
As portrayed by Ilana Glazer, Ilana Wexler is an exaggerated version of the comedienne: one of the most raucous, free-spirited, and sex-positive characters of television.
She openly identifies herself as bi yet is never ashamed for her attractions.
The Jeffersons (1975 – 1985)
The Jeffersons— a TV shows in the 70s– featured in their 1977 episode “Just a Friend” a character named Edie Stokes (Veronica Redd), who had transitioned as a trans woman.
This episode was one of the first positive and sympathetic portrayals of a black trans person in the history of LGBT media.
Ellen (1994 – 1998)
In LGBT media, there’s before Ellen and after Ellen.
Ellen DeGeneres (as the character Ellen Morgan) forever changed television when she came out in “The Puppy Episode” near the end of the fourth season.
It coincided with her real-life coming-out and sparked controversy and national discussion while achieving huge ratings and critical acclaim.