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in brief: american tv bosses axe lgbt shows and characters

Promotional picture for the axed show 'The New Normal'

Promotional picture for the axed show ‘The New Normal’

American television networks are moving to cut gay characters from screens. An article from The Hollywood Reporter says that television series The New Normal and Partners have been cancelled.

Both shows featured predominantly lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) characters, with members of the gay community also being involved in the creative process. The New Normal is created by Ryan Murphy and Ali Adler, and stars Andrew Rannells, all of whom are gay. Partners owes its existence to David Kohan and Max Mutchnik, of Will & Grace (a sitcom well renowned for introducing out and proud characters to mainstream television) fame, though Kohan is straight.

Partners also features a gay actor in its leading role: Michael Urie. Though the shows are on different networks (The New Normal is on NBC, Partners is on CBS), the one thing they have in common is the fact that their main storylines revolve around happy, committed, gay couples.

Glee is also standing on shaky legs as one of its main stars, who acts as a bisexual character, might not be returning for next season. Heather Morris, who plays Brittany on the musical-slash-comedy-slash-drama, has yet to see her contract renewed.

Smash, Go On, Don’t Trust the B—– in Apartment 23, 90210, Southland, Happy Endings and The Office are just a few other American television series that have either ended or been cancelled. They all feature one or more gay character, often in a leading or supporting role.

A recent survey conducted by The Hollywood Reporter attributed overwhelming support for homosexual marriage across the US to the increase in presence of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender relationships in popular culture. In particular, it cited television shows such as Glee and Modern Family, which incorporate gay characters among straight characters.

One new show to look forward to is NBC’s upcoming launch of Sean Saves the World, a comedy about an openly gay man trying to figure out how to look after his teenage daughter. It stars Sean Hayes, who also played the (very) openly gay Jack McFarland on Will & Grace.

Some returning series will also rehash LGBT themes, including issues of coming out in the ‘80s in The Carrie Diaries, and a new adulterous lesbian relationship on Grey’s Anatomy.

The reduction of so many new series featuring gay characters could potentially pose a threat to diversity on American television as a whole, especially since the 2012-13 season featured a record number of LGBT characters. The networks need to make a particularly strong effort to incorporate a range of characters and personalities in the new influx of shows, especially if they aim to reflect the diversity of their audiences.

More than forty new television shows are lined up for the 2013-14 season, and while none of them have said they will feature gay characters, none of them have said they won’t, either.

Michelle See-Tho

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