I think anyone would agree that gay characters are becoming more and more prominent in TV programming. In fact, in a recent MSNBC article "Ugly Betty" is credited for opening the doors for other shows to "come out of the closet" so to speak (e.g. "Glee", "Modern Family", basically every show). Jarrett Barios of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation called the show "groundbreaking" in this respect. He particularly admired the show's depiction of a gay teen. America Ferrera (Ugly Betty) is also quoted as saying, "There are certain things that people just don't expect anyone on television to talk about and whenever we dared to go there, it would make some people uncomfortable. But the only way to really make an impact and to inspire people to think is to venture into risky territory,"
This quote fully supports my belief that TV, like any other art, approaches its craft with a story to tell and elements are used to fulfill that intent (questioning traditional values, pushing the envelope, tolerance, "inspiring people to think", etc.). Writers include certain lines in the script for a reason, characters are introduced for a reason, plot lines have a purpose... except maybe for "Lost". Can anyone tell me what what happened to that show?? These days, I think it would be naive to believe that you can relax in front of the TV and accept it only as entertainment that bears no relevance to our world. People are in the business because they see an opportunity for influence.
To me, there is no question as to what TV producer's motives are in introducing gay characters to shows that are popularly entertaining. In general, I think people are more forgiving of controversial elements of a show, if it means they'll be entertained. The question is, how much garbage we are willing to swallow for a few laughs?