In the process of analyzing LGBTQ representation on television media, I uncovered numerous alarming trends in the portrayal of lesbian, bisexual and queer representations. A GLAAD study on representation in the media Where We Are on TV revealed several troubling statistics including one that states that lesbian representation decreased dramatically from the previous year, down to 17%. Last year’s percentage was 33. A study done by Caroline Framke, a Vox writer, catalogued the deaths of every character in at least three episodes in the 2015-2016 television season. The study found that 10 percent of the characters who were killed off were lesbian women and 3 percent were gay men.
Why are lesbian women on TV not allowed to have happy endings?
I found SEVERAL examples affirming this problematic trend:
Buffy: The Vampire Slayer, 1997-2003
Viewers and fans of cult classic, Buffy the Vampire Slayer will remember the epic romance between Willow and Tara, which was also the first recurring depiction of a lesbian couple in a prime time network series. However, despite the positive feedback from both critics and fans, Tara was killed by a stray bullet at the end of the show’s sixth season. Tara dies in Willow’s arms.
Lip Service, 2010-2012
This series followed the interwoven love lives three women living in Glasgow. The show’s main couple Frankie and Cat have a tumultuous relationship which ends in the tragic hit-and-run death of Cat shortly after the two agree to make their relationship public.
Skins focused on a group of teenagers in Bristol, England who are completing sixth form. The show has several LGBTQ characters but the most popular and notable same sex relationship was Emily (who is a lesbian) and Naomi (who was bisexual).A poll conducted by American’s gay women’s media website AfterEllen.com ranked Naomi and as the top two lesbian and bisexual characters. The two had a beautiful romance but their love was cancelled after Naomi was diagnosed with and died from cancer.
And these are just a handful of examples!