ABC Family is known for teen drama, implausible murder mysteries…and LGBT inclusion?
The network earned an “Excellent” rating from GLAAD in a report released this week (pdf, page 24) on the prevalence and treatment of LGBT characters on American cable and broadcast television.
Out of 147.5 hours of original programming on ABC Family in the 2013-2014 season, 62.5 hours—42%—featured LGBT characters or story lines. The teen-targeted network has been including LGBT characters in its original narratives for at least eight years....
Then came The Fosters, a show in its second season that centers around an interracial lesbian couple raising a family that includes foster children. It’s responsible for many of the LGBT-inclusive hours on ABC Family, and has been praised as one of the best shows on television featuring LGBT families.
“Their version of family that they have presented … is very indicative of a lot of LGBT families and how they live their lives,” says Matt Kane, GLAAD director of entertainment media.
The Fosters and Pretty Little Liars also include parts of the community that other networks don’t—in the 2014-2015 television season...On ABC Family, 90% of the LGBT-inclusive hours in 2013-14 featured lesbian characters, and The Fosters also includes a transgender teen character played by a transgender actor.
There was a time when the “family” part of “ABC Family” might have required that LGBT people be kept off the screen—people equated an LGBT storyline with an mature or adult audience...Shows like The Fosters reflect an attitude toward diversity that aids in storytelling—the premise includes diversity and that diversity informs the depth of the story.
New Yorker TV critic Emily Nussbaum notes: “‘The Fosters‘ is a perfect example of why it makes sense to bake diversity into the premise of a TV show—once it’s there, you don’t have to add it later, through romantic interests or a “diverse” plot in Season 3, as many cable dramas have done.”
Of the networks that GLAAD analyzed (which did not include online studios Amazon and Netflix), MTV and HBO also received “Excellent” marks.
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