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Abstract

This paper explores the use of stereotypes to characterize homosexuals on network television in the United States. With a goal of raising reader awareness of network television’s over-reliance on stereotypes, I argue that the stereotypical depictions of homosexuals on network television has negative and sometimes even dangerous ramifications in contemporary U.S. culture. Many contend that the increasing number of gay and lesbian characters featured on network television is an indication of society’s emerging acceptance of homosexuality. However, this is a false assumption given that many of the shows cited as promoting equality are not meant to do that, but instead are created to improve network reputations, address current controversial issues, and ultimately boost ratings. Stereotypes have long been employed to assist networks in reaching these goals. While the existence of homosexual characters on television is certainly not harmful, using stereotypes in their depiction ultimately has negative implications including limiting viewers’ perspectives and encouraging further stereotyping, discrimination in various forms, and, in extreme cases, perhaps even violence.

Faculty Mentor

Allison Brimmer, Ph.D.

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