Inclusivity in TV shows increases
Ellis Mcginley – Copy Editor
Last week, the hit TV show “Supernatural” appeared to confirm a romance between the two lead males. In the scene, one character, Castiel, informs the other, Dean Winchester, that he “loves him” and his love led him to create an oath resulting in his death.
Fans of the show have been waiting for a romantic revelation since Castiel was introduced in the third season. This will be Supernatural’s 15th and final season on air.
To some university students, though, “Supernatural” is less-than familiar territory. “I haven’t gotten to rewatch the show, especially the later seasons recently, but I feel as though this reveal is presented in an un-stereotypical, open and loving way. It could be great representation for the community,” said theater major Lauren Hoerner, Secretary of PRISM.
“I haven’t heard of Destiel? I’m assuming it’s a ship name for someone,” said freshman Sam Gontarz, a student ambassador with the SAGE Center.
However, the scene can open deeper conversations about LGBTQ+ representation in television.
“I think that LGBTQ representation has come a long from what it was, but do I think we can expand upon it? Yes, of course. I feel like we have only touched the surface of what LGBTQ+ is,” said social work major Justyn Velez, a freshman.
“I think there have definitely been improvements over time,” said Aaron Morabito, SAGE Center graduate intern. “But I still think there’s obviously more room to grow always. Like with the example with the couple from “Supernatural”, they’re still both to my knowledge, you know, white gay men.”
Castiel, played by Misha Collins, and Dean Winchester, played by Jensen Ackles are both white, cisgender men. Both actors are also heterosexual.
On finding more content with LGBTQ+ representation, Morabito said “I think trying to find sources that either were like the actors, or the people themselves are queer, and they’re not just playing a queer character. Or companies that have worked with queer people to produce whatever show or episode or whatever it is that they’re doing.”
“I watch a lot of Cartoon Network because my younger brother and I both enjoy their shows, and recently there have been a lot of LGBT rep,” said English major Madeline Scharf, a sophomore.
“Worst example? Probably whatever they just did with Destiel where two grown men awkwardly stare at each other and finally use the queerbaiting they have hyped up for years,” Scharf said.
“Queerbaiting” refers to a marketing tactic where a television show, film, or other media hints at an LGBTQ+ relationship or character but does not make it explicit.
This is often perceived as an effort to attract LGBTQ+ consumers without alienating those uncomfortable with the LGBTQ+ community.
“I think what we need To see more of on TV is a more realistic person in the community played on the screen. Also, people who are nonbinary or pansexual; we need to make sure like kids that are feeling like they could be that can feel comfortable,” said Velez.
According to CNN and GLAAD, 38 characters on television in 2019-2020 were explicitly transgender. Five were nonbinary (or someone who does not identify as a man or woman.)
Ten percent of all regular, recurring characters on TV are LGBTQ, up 8.8 percent from last year.
“I would love to see more actors, directors, lighting designers, costume designers, sound designers, and everyone behind the scenes of LGBTQIA+ productions to be part of the LGBTQIA+ community, especially the transgender community as they are one of the most discriminated against identities reported by statistics in the U.S.,” said Hoerner.
Notably, the Oscars also have recently released a diversity initiative set to take place in 2024. It requires inclusion of racial and ethnic groups, women, the disabled, and LGBTQ people.
To qualify for best picture, at least 30 percent of the cast and crew will need to come from one of the four marginalized groups of people.
“I think also something I’d like to see more diversity, like we said, in terms of, you know, we need more people of color that are queer,” said Morabito. “The kind of smaller communities within the LGBT community just to be more represented.”