Why GLAAD is Wrong to Fail CBS and Praise the CW
Why GLAAD is Wrong to Fail CBS and Praise the CW
John Kubicek
John Kubicek
Senior Writer, BuddyTV
GLAAD, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, released its report card for TV networks judging them on the inclusion of gay, bisexual and transgendered characters. For the first time, the CW topped all the major networks while CBS was given a failing grade.

Obviously the list rates quantity over quality, because instead of actually judging networks based on how they address homosexual characters, all GLAAD cares about is the numbers. The organization seems to think that every show on TV needs to have a gay character, which is preposterous.

Homosexuality shouldn't be an issue, it shouldn't be a quota that needs to be filled. CBS was given a failing grade for its lack of gay characters, but the truth is that a network full of crime procedurals with very little character development can hardly be criticized for such a thing.

Furthermore, GLAAD seems to ignore the fact that the single best portrayal of the complexity of human sexuality came from CBS: Kalinda on The Good Wife. Archie Panjabi earned an Emmy nomination for her work as the sexually ambiguous character who believes that her personal preferences are nobody's business but her own.

But GLAAD missed the point entirely. In their report, they encouraged CBS to bring Kalinda out of the closet, expressing frustration that The Good Wife "never directly addressed [her sexual orientation] and left the audience to guess if her character may have shared a kiss with a woman." I guess GLADD thinks that a person's sexual orientation is everyone's business and that if you choose to keep your private life private, you're living a lie.

Kalinda is a remarkable character who is worth five random token gay characters on any other network. She represents the idea that sexuality is a personal matter, not a public one, and that being labeled or put into a box isn't necessary. Kalinda should single-handedly earn CBS a passing grade from GLAAD because she represents everything the organization should be about.

Instead, GLAAD honored the CW. I wonder why. Let's look at some of the portrayals of gay and lesbian characters on the CW in the past year.

On One Tree Hill, a closeted gay actor films himself having sex with his female co-star in order to prematurely stop rumors about his homosexuality.

On Melrose Place, Katie Cassidy's Ella was a mean, bitchy bisexual who used anyone she could get into her bed for her own career advancement.

On Gossip Girl, Eric was an openly gay character, but he was so marginalized and insignificant that most of his appearances consisted of him telling everyone about going off to be with his boyfriend. GLAAD also specifically pointed out Chuck Bass' man-on-man kiss as positive, despite the fact that it was exploitation pure and simple on every conceivable level.

On 90210, there was a token hot teenage girl bisexual experimentation storyline that was as cliched and outdated as it was when The O.C. did it six years ago. However, I will agree with GLAAD that this wasn't just a sweeps stunt, mostly because the ratings for this show are so low that even steamy teenage lesbian kissing couldn't trick people to watch this trainwreck of a series.

On The Beautiful Life, gay fashion designers were ... oh, who cares. This show was canceled so quickly that any gay characters on it should be disqualified because the CW wishes this show never existed in the first place.

That's the network that GLAAD believes does the best job at portraying homosexuality and other GLBT issues. If the organization really wanted to further its cause, it would look more at the quality of the portrayals and not just on sheer volume. One fully-formed, three-dimensional, complex gay character is worth a lot more than 20 thinly-drawn stereotypes.

Source: GLAAD
(Image courtesy of CBS)