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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - "The Good Wife" is getting a gay brother; new teen TV show "Hellcats" features a lesbian cheerleader; and as for "True Blood" -- TV watchers now need two hands to count the vampires who will suck the blood of either gender.
The number of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) characters on prime time U.S. television is growing, with 58 regular LGBT roles on network and cable shows this season, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) said in a report on Wednesday.
GLAAD said that 23 LGBT characters account for 3.9 percent of regular characters in scripted network shows like Emmy-winning comedies "Modern Family" and "Glee" in the 2010-2011 TV season, which started last week.
On mainstream cable networks, the number of regulars jumped to 35 from 25 last year, with HBO's surreal vampire drama "True Blood" taking the crown as the most inclusive program on TV with six recurring characters who are either gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.
There are an additional 32 recurring roles on broadcast and cable TV shows, but GLAAD lamented the fact that there were no black LGBT characters on network comedies and dramas.
GLAAD president Jarrett Barrios said the increase in gay and lesbian characters on TV reflects "the shift in American culture toward greater awareness and understanding of our community."
"The recent critical and commercial success of shows like 'Modern Family' and 'Glee' clearly indicate that mainstream audiences embrace gay characters and want to see well-crafted stories about our lives," Barrios added.
ABC's mockumentary-style "Modern Family" won the Emmy for best comedy series, and earned another Emmy for the actor who portrays one-half of a gay couple raising an adopted baby. Popular Fox musical comedy "Glee" won a best directing Emmy and features an eclectic cast, including a gay teen and a high school singer raised by two men.
GLAAD welcomed the addition of gay characters this year to high-rated shows like CBS lawyer drama "The Good Wife", whose bisexual, Indian investigator will be joined by a gay brother for lead actress Julianna Margulies.
New ABC shows "The Whole Truth" and comedy "Happy Endings" both have gay characters, while the new CW show "Hellcats" features gay cheerleader Patty Wedgerman and NBC's new lawyer show "Outlaw" has bisexual Lucinda Pearl.
On cable networks, AMC's spy thriller "Rubicon" features a gay lead character with past romantic entanglements, while Showtime programs feature seven characters who are gay, lesbian or bisexual, including dark comedy "Nurse Jackie".
Wednesday's report is the 15th annual "Where We Are on TV" study by GLAAD, which campaigns for the inclusive and accurate portrayal of gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual people and events in the U.S. media.
Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte