Where We Are on TV: An Update

October 30, 2009
In the ever-changing television landscape, nothing is ever certain, particularly when it comes to LGBT representation. Just weeks after GLAAD released its 14th annual "Where We Are on TV" study, noteworthy changes have already occurred in the broadcast TV landscape.
<i>FlashForward</i>'s Janis Hawk

FlashForward's Janis Hawk (Christine Woods)

The study reported that Dr. Arizona Robbins (Jessica Capshaw) on ABC's Grey's Anatomy would be the only lesbian series regular on network television. That changed when plot developments revealed that FBI agent Janis Hawk (Christine Woods) is a lesbian on the hit new series FlashForward, also on ABC. In last week's episode, Janis went on a first date with an attractive woman named Maya. Although Janis was shot at the end of the episode, Janis does survive...though in the violent world of FlashForward she should watch her back lest our lesbian count drop back down to one. ABC recently announced it had picked up the series for an extended 25-episode first season. Another noteworthy development came this past Monday when NBC's Trauma definitively revealed the identity of its gay character, who was counted but unidentified in our study. Word had spread earlier that San Francisco paramedic Tyler Briggs (Kevin Rankin) was the gay character. Sure enough, in the Halloween-themed episode, Tyler came out to his partner Cameron Boone after Tyler had had enough of Boone's homophobic jokes in the middle of the Castro. Unfortunately, NBC announced Wednesday that it would not be picking up additional episodes of Trauma beyond the original 13-episode order. The remaining eight episodes are expected to complete production and make it to air.
<i>Trauma</i>'s Tyler Briggs (Kevin Rankin)

Trauma's Tyler Briggs (Kevin Rankin)

Besides the impending loss of Trauma, NBC also announced the cancellation of the critically-acclaimed Southland before its second season could even premiere. But there is still hope for Southland's Officer John Cooper (Michael Cudlitz) as TNT is reportedly interested in picking up the show. This news does not bode well for NBC's LGBT representation, which looked promising coming into the new season. NBC's primary LGBT characters now reside on The Office, Heroes and Mercy, which recently received a full season pick-up. Additionally, if recent internet speculation on AfterEllen and other sites proves true, The Good Wife could become the only scripted series on CBS to feature a series regular member of the LGBT community. Though CBS has not yet confirmed this, subtle dialogue has suggested that investigator Kalinda Sharma (Archie Panjabi) could indeed be bisexual. We look forward to following this story and hope the The Good Wife will signal some progress for a network that has been lagging in scripted LGBT representation. In the coming months The CW will see a rise in LGBT inclusion. Entertainment Weekly's Michael Ausiello confirmed yesterday that 90210's barely-there lesbian, Gia (Rumer Willis), will be getting some major screen time come January when she embarks on a relationship with series regular Adrianna (Jessica Lowndes). If the following statement from executive producer Rebecca Sinclair is any indication, we may have to start counting Adrianna as a bisexual character as this likely won't be a mere ratings stunt:
“This isn’t a fling,” insists executive producer Rebecca Sinclair. “We’re coming at this [relationship] from a genuine place and not going, ‘Let’s do a titillating story that will grab some promotion.’ This is a real aspect of teenager life that’s interesting… And there’s been a real void in the 90210 universe in terms of gay and bisexual characters.”
This is shaping up to be an interesting season on many fronts! Check the glaadBLOG for TV Gayed, our weekly listings that bring you the latest on what's LGBT on TV!