Thursday, October 16, 2008

Gay TV

I readily admit that I love television. Not in a Homer Simpson way, but in the way that an hour of smart writing and great acting and a bit of cheese can be just as wonderful as a great film or play. And, after many years of seeing stereotypical gay characters (damn you, Billy Crystal), the networks are finally starting to give us the respect we deserve. I'm not talking about cable here (despite Showtime's efforts with Queer as Folk and The L Word), or even Here! or Logo. I'm talking about the big four: ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox. There are now realistic portrayals of gay characters all over the tube. And I say "It's about damned time!"
The gayest show on TV right now is ABC's Ugly Betty. Sweet, funny and bitchy in the best possible way, Ugly Betty features not one, but two gay characters (Mark & Justin) plus a bonus transgendered character (Alexis). Yes, it's silly and corny and very soapy, but who cares? It's great fun and features wonderful performances from America Ferrara; Vanessa Williams; Becky Newton; Eric Mabius; Michael Urie; Mark Indelicato; Judith Light; Ana Ortiz and Rebecca Romijn.
Then there's one of my mother's favorite shows, Brothers and Sisters which features gay brother Kevin (Matthew Rhys). I don't watch this particular show, though Mom tells me it's fabulous.
And then there's everyone's favorite gay talk show hostess, Ellen Degeneres. When she came out publicly and made her sitcom all about being gay, it almost ruined her career, but her uber-successful talk show proved she's still one of the country's funniest ladies. Bright, articulate and so quick-witted, Ellen's recent (and celebrated) marriage to Portia DeRossi proved that America can deal with with openly gay celebs. And thankfully, Ellen has finally made her own Anti-Prop 8 PSA.
Of course, where would we be without NBC's ground-breaking comedy, Will & Grace? Yes, Sean Hayes' Jack is a stereotype. And yes, the brilliant Megan Mullaly's Karen can be a bit shrill. So what? the simple and sweet friendship between Will and his straight soulmate Grace is the core of this often hilarious ensemble comedy and often reminds me of the friendship I share with my dear "K." Now in syndication on Lifetime (women's TV - go figure), Will & Grace stands as a landmark in LGBT programming.
Finally, my favorite gay show is the BBC's Torchwood featuring the gorgeous and openly gay John Barrowman as Captain Jack Harkness, leader of the Cardiff, Wales branch of a secret government agency that monitors supernatural, extraterrestrial and other odd phenomena. Best line ever? While investigating a case involving the illegal sale of extraterrestrial meat to the general public, Agent Gwen Cooper (the brilliant Eve Miles) asks Jack. "Have you ever eaten alien meat?" "Yes," Jack responds. "How was it?" Gwen asks. Jack smiles, wryly and says: "He certainly seemed to enjoy it." Smart, funny, sexy and silly, Torchwood is simply the best Sci-fi on TV.
As always, more of this anon.

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