Wednesday, May 15, 2013
We're almost at the summer months, which means it's time for major TV networks to start announcing which shows are returning for the fall schedule, which are about to be cut, and what new content will be making it to prime time. One of the most surprising trends seems to be the sudden drop-off of new characters: many of the shows getting das boot not only feature gay characters, but involve them as primary characters.
An October 2012 survey of U.S. broadcast TV by The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation found a record number of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender characters. It was the 17th survey by GLAAD and it pronounced itself well pleased with what it calls “inclusive programming.” The next survey will probably find a very different situation. The cancellation of NBC’s The New Normal and CBS’s Partners, which both featured gay couples, is not the only change. The number of cancelled shows with gay characters is very long – Don’t Trust the B–– in Apt. 23, Malibu Country, 90210, Emily Owens, M.D., The Office, The L.A. Complex and Smash, for a start. And then there is the matter of Glee. It is unclear which characters will return, including Brittany (Heather Morris) the hilarious, scene-stealing, bisexual cheerleader. [SOURCE]
This seems kind of disheartening, but consider this: regular gay characters are mostly concentrated in new shows. Most of the shows that were cancelled? New shows. Newer material is hit-or-miss when it comes to getting picked up for additional seasons, but it's also where gay characters are more likely to pop up because their core casts tend to be more reflective of the current climate. New shows will bring in more gay characters while old shows are cycled out.
Case in point, some of the new shows getting picked up for next fall include a show, starring out actor Jonathan Groff, which is being billed as a gay male version of Girls, as well as a new sitcom starring Sean Hayes playing a gay father. When you factor in the number of new shows that will feature as-of-yet unrevealed regular LGBT characters, it all evens out a little. We'll see how it plays out, but cautious optimism is probably the safest route here.
Tl;dr version: a bunch of gay characters are getting cancelled, but more will pop up eventually.
[Image source: gregarnette.com]
Thursday, February 7, 2013
For those of you who've been keeping track, singer/actress/sparkly bodysuit enthusiast Jennifer Lopez has been developing a dramatic series centred on a lesbian family for a while now, and it's gotten so much attention that One Million Moms actually started a protest before it even made it on the air. They are literally that fucking stupid.
Anyway, there's some good news: ABC Family has finally picked up Lopez's The Fosters, which is set to premiere sometime in the summer.
ABC Family president Michael Riley announced the news today, saying the new one-hour drama fits into the network’s “groundbreaking storytelling and iconic characters” and will bring “the same depth, heart, close relationships and authenticity that our viewers have come to expect.”
The two moms will be played by Teri Polo (Meet the Parents, The West Wing) as police officer Stef Foster and Sherri Saum (In Treatment, Sunset Beach) as school principal Lena Foster. Their large, multi-ethnic brood includes biological and adopted children. Their household will be disrupted when they take in another child, Callie (played by Maia Mitchell), a troubled teen with an abusive past.
ABC Family also released the first photos of the new series, and gay ladies everywhere will no doubt be thrilled to see Stef is in uniform for all of them. [SOURCE]
Holy hell, it's about friggin' time. Seriously, they made a show about monkey doctors and wacky presidents. How did it take this long for a lesbian family-themed show to make it to the airwaves?
[IMG Credit: afterellen.com]
Saturday, November 3, 2012
As much as no one cares to admit it, TV is a rather inordinately influential medium. What, do you think Oprah would be able to convince a bunch of bored, sexless housewives to read Elie Wiesel's Night if she WASN'T syndicated? No, that will never happen.
Well, according to a poll done by The Hollywood Reporter -- always a reliable, scientific source -- shows like Modern Family and Glee are reportedly influencing voters in the US to support pro-equality measures. Yes, people are getting more gay-friendly, and all it took was a group of multicultural teenagers singing Gotye to do it.
In the past 10 years, the THR poll of likely voters across the nation found, about three times as many voters have become more pro-gay marriage as have become more anti-gay marriage -- 31 percent pro, 10 percent anti.
Asked about how the shows influenced them, 27 percent said gay TV made them more pro-gay marriage, and six percent more anti. Obama voters watched and 30 percent got more supportive, 2 percent less supportive. Surprisingly, the shows made almost as many Romney voters more in favor of gay marriage: 13 percent got more pro-gay-marriage, 12 percent got more anti. (This trend toward gay acceptance squares with other polls: the 2011 Gallup poll was the first ever to show a majority, 53 percent, in favor of legalizing gay marriage, and a 2012 Gallup poll showed 50 percent in favor and 48 percent against it.)
There are plenty of people I know who, if you mention Modern Family anywhere near them, launch headfirst into a frothing rage over how Cam and Mitchell are stereotypes and no gay men act like that and so on and so forth . . . I'll spare you the rant. But like it or not, people are heavily influenced by what they see on TV, and you'd have to be woefully naive to think the average voter doesn't watch at least one serial sitcom. Media representation may not be the most cerebral cause to champion, but you can't argue with results.
Saturday, September 22, 2012
If you haven't read Daniel Mendelsohn's fantastic piece over on out.com on queer representation in television, I heartily recommend it. Yes, I know, there are more important parts of the gay rights movement than just characters on a TV show, but like it or not, we are a culture that's become media-focused. It's still a part of the societal landscape.
Anyway, Mendelsohn's piece is a really great look at what it was like growing up in an age with no gay media representation beyond mincing stereotypes and coded sexuality, but I will pick out one of my favourite passages, because if there's one thing that should shut up everyone who complains that characters are/aren't gay enough, this should be it:
If a gay character was the tiniest bit swishy, people would be up in arms denouncing “gay stereotypes”; if a gay character was “straight-acting,” people would be up in arms denouncing assimilation. Even after the most intense period of gay activism had subsided, the issues remained. For some, Will on Will & Grace was too square, not “gay enough”; but then, perhaps Jack was too gay. The central problem, it seemed to me, was that there can’t ever be an accurate representation of gay people on TV, for the very good reason that there isn’t a monolithic “gay person” to be represented.
YES. Thank you! As much as we hope and pray for one, there's never going to be some quintessential gay out there who can speak for the communtiy as a whole. The moment we finally drop this whole butch versus femme in-fighting bit that seems to be looming around in the background, the better.
Saturday, August 25, 2012
Considering that the entire premise of Ryan Murphy's "The New Normal" can be summed up as "A gay couple hires a surrogate to carry their baby", you'd figure that no one would be dumb enough to go into it thinking it would be the heteronormative fun-time happy hour where no pre-conceived notions are challenged ever.
But to be fair, if everyone operated on logic, common sense and decency, I would never have anything to write about and I'd be out of a job faster than John Travolta at a massage parlor. And thanks to this Utah TV Station, which has taken it upon themselves to ban The New Normal over the show's embracing of gay issues, I can look forward to cashing yet another paycheque. Kudos, assholes!
‘The New Normal’ was deemed inappropriate by a spokesperson from the Utah-based KSL-TV, due to: ”crude dialogue, explicit content and offensive characterisations,” Deseret News reported.
The TV station took the decision not to air the show, despite being an NBC affiliate. Jeff Simpson, CEO of the KSL parent company released a statement:
“After viewing the pilot episode of ‘The New Normal,’ we have made the decision to keep it off our fall schedule. For our brand, this program simply feels inappropriate on several dimensions, especially during family viewing time.” (via Pink News)
Oh, look at all this wrong here... Where to start? First off, censoring things because of your own arbitrary judgement rather than allowing your audience the opportunity to decide for themselves what they do and do not want to watch? Fuck up one. Assuming that the definition of "family" is limited to solely your own, rather than taking into consideration the numerous functional families of the non-nuclear variety? Fuck up two! And finally, I'm pretty sure you just managed to piss Ellen Barkin right off, and when she gets her claws in a cause, she will tweet it into submission. Fuck up three!