It should come as no surprise that television impacts your opinions and beliefs, but it might also do some good for social change. Recent studies found that people were more likely to support same-sex marriage based on television representations of same-sex marriage. From the Supreme Court case coverage of the DOMA and Proposition 8 cases about gay marriage to the more tense depiction of a gay marriage on television shows like "Modern Family," LGBT people are getting positive representation on the tube, and it’s helping to change the way modern American feels about their marriage rights.
According to the study produced by Ipsos MediaCT, 18% of television viewers aged 13-64 say that TV in general has changed their opinion of same-sex marriage in a positive way. This means that whatever’s on is also making them think twice about LGBT people and gay marriage. There are some obvious culprits here: the battle for LGBT equality has been a public battle that has taken over the news, and television shows in primetime are increasingly showcasing the importance of gay marriage, including in shows like Glee or, as previously mentioned, Modern Family.
For better or worse (for richer or poorer? Sorry.), it seems that television matters when it comes to depicting important social issues, especially the rights of underrepresented people. However exciting that may sound, it is also daunting: when people that are underrepresented are portrayed negatively by the media, it hurts public acceptance of those people. So to move beyond gay marriage as many LGBT activists wish to look, getting television made that represents transgender people positively would not be amiss.
Unfortunately, right now with characters that are underdeveloped or quite stereotypical, we might have a ways to go before we can see positive cultural depictions of transgender people or LGBT people who do not desire to be married. Regardless, Ipsos's study shows us that TV matters, and that fighting for fair and dynamic portrayals of LGBT people is still worthwhile.