*GLADD released its Network Responsibility Index last week – which charts the quantity, quality, and diversity of LGBT representation on television – and FOX and ABC Family earned top scores for showcasing quality diversity of the gay community through its shows “Empire” and “Pretty Little Liars” respectively.
“Empire” became an instant hit for FOX, with 21.1 million viewers reportedly tuning in to watch the Lyon family drama —including the story of Jamal Lyon (Jussie Smollett), the openly gay son struggling to gain acceptance from his homophobic father, Lucious Lyon (Terrance Howard). Many viewers complained about the gay plot, calling it a distraction and shock value. You may recall when show creator Lee Daniels, who is also openly gay, responded to the criticism in a statement earlier this year, in which he said he wanted to “blow the lid off of homophobia” among African-Americans.
“Homophobia is rampant in the African-American community, and men are on the DL. They don’t come out [and] they’re killing our women,” creator Lee Daniels told critics at the Television Critics Association winter previews. “I wanted to blow the lid off of it, and of homophobia, in our community.”
Lucious is partially based on Daniels’ own father, and Terrance Howard has said that they can’t be PC when telling stories like Lee’s.
“What we’re doing is telling a little bit of the story of Lee growing up in that way, but it’s really a bigger part of what’s happening throughout the entire world,” Howard told critics. “We are not doing PC shows.”
As Variety reports:
“GLAAD determined the rankings for the report, now in its ninth year, by culling original programming that aired on all broadcast and 10 cable networks from June 1, 2014 through May 31, 2015. The cable networks were chosen based on a combination of Nielsen Media Research rankings, cultural and media recognition factors, and the diversity and breadth of original programming.”
In a statement about inclusive storylines on television, GLAAD CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said, “GLAAD’s Network Responsibility Index has helped reshape the television landscape, inspiring LGBT characters and storylines that move acceptance forward. As representations of LGBT people in the media continue to rise in number, pushing television networks to make those representations more diverse is more crucial than ever.”
The second season of “Empire” airs September 23 on FOX at 9/8c.