December 9, 2016
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CBS To Add Three Gay Roles

By BRIAN STELTER - Media Decoder

 

  — For years CBS has lagged behind other television networks in its inclusion of gay, lesbian and transgender characters. In the season that starts in September, however, a gay character will join “The Good Wife,” a lesbian character will join “Rules of Engagement” and a gay character will appear in the new sitcom “$#*! My Dad Says.”

Speaking last week to television reporters, Nina Tassler, CBS entertainment president, said the network was adding the characters to its prime-time programs “because we’re very disappointed in our track record so far.”

That record has been scrutinized by GLAAD, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. For four years, the group’s Network Responsibility Index has assessed the quantity and quality of gay and lesbian representation on TV, and the results have not been positive for CBS. For the first two years, CBS was labeled adequate; for last year and the current one it was labeled failing.

In its most recent study, released in July, Glaad said that 7 percent of CBS’s prime-time hours included content that was “L.G.B.T.-inclusive,” for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, far fewer hours than the CW (35 percent), Fox (30 percent), ABC (26 percent) or NBC (13 percent) networks. “For several years,” Glaad said in the study, Ms. Tassler “has publicly promised greater L.G.B.T.-inclusion in scripted programming and has consistently failed to deliver.”

This year, though, Ms. Tassler announced the addition of the three characters, saying that when it became clear that none of CBS’s new shows included gay or lesbian characters, the network looked for other opportunities to “improve the numbers we have represented in the casts.” She added: “So we’re going to do that, and then we’ll continue to focus on it as we go into the development season. We’re not happy with ourselves.”

Rashad Robinson, senior director of media programs for Glaad, said there had been no change in tactics that may have prompted Ms. Tassler’s announcement, and no protest in the works. “I think this was part of the ongoing pressure that we’ve kept on CBS,” he said.



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