Every year, GLAAD releases the Network Responsibility Index, a report analyzing LGBT representations of 15 major networks, to coincide with the annual Television Critics Association summer press tour. CBS today became the first of the five major broadcast networks to present its fall television schedule and CBS President Nina Tassler used the opportunity to address the "Failing" grade the network once again received in the NRI for the overall lack of LGBT representation in its primetime scripted programming.
Per After Elton, Tassler said:
“There were a couple of pilots that we shot this season and a couple of projects in development that unfortunately we didn't get to pick up. But we are adding a few characters to this season because we are very disappointed in our track record so far. We know we will do better.
We're going to meet Alicia's brother on The Good Wife as a gay character. We're also going to be adding a new character to Rules of Engagement. Jeff and Audrey's surrogate will be a member of Jeff's softball team and she's a lesbian. We're also going to be recurring a gay character in Bleep My Dad Says. The character Tim Bagley played will be returning this season.
Once you come out of your pilot season disappointed with yourself, you go into the current series season and say "Let's look for every opportunity to improve the numbers we have represented in the cast so we're going to do that. And then we'll continue to focus on that as we go into development season. We're not happy with ourselves.
As many networks made great strides in LGBT representation this past TV season, CBS has continued to lag behind.
“It is encouraging that CBS shares our disappointment in the network's lack of gay and transgender representation and we are hopeful that the new characters will help build awareness and understanding of our community among viewers," said GLAAD President Jarrett Barrios. "After two years of receiving a ‘failing’ grade and a commitment last year to be more inclusive, we hope that CBS President Nina Tassler makes true on this promise to bring the network more in line with the industry standard.’”
Tassler has indeed promised new LGBT characters before, but GLAAD is pleased to see her offer concrete examples of what to expect in the fall 2010 season. GLAAD also looks forward to evaluating and reporting on the quality of those LGBT images.