Fanookers and Doormats: Sprucing Up TV's Gay Characters

AfterElton put together a sadly hopeful little roundup of "gay" TV pilots currently in various stages of development today. It got us thinking about the current slate of gay folks on TV, and wishing for some new variations.

Though some annoying whiners might complain that there aren't enough gays on the TV these days, we're actually not doing that bad. Just new this season we've got the two dudes on Modern Family, Christine Baranski's character on The Good Wife *might* be a member of the Pink Ladies, and we're pretty sure that the Lost premiere revealed the Smoke Monster to be at least bisexual. But a lot of the characters tend to be sort of stale archetypes. Here are a few ideas for how to shake things up a bit.

Fanookers and Doormats: Sprucing Up TV's Gay Characters

The Lesbian Who Won't Kill You
Lesbians on TV are always such ball-busters aren't they? There was Michelle Forbes' flinty and fatally strict starship captain on Battlestar Galactica. Baranski's character is one of those tough old babes who's mostly just imperious and scary, not lovable. Elisabeth Rohm's ADA Southerlyn was mostly stern and no-nonsense on Law & Order, plus she only got to come out in her last episode (on getting fired: "Is this because I'm a lesbian?" The audience at home: "Whaaaa??"). So it'd be nice to see a nice lesbian, one who isn't just hardened and mean (so we understand that she's One Of The Boys). We're thinking we need something in the vein of the well-reviewed Sundance hit The Kids Are All Right. Not fakey sexed-up types like what were on The L Word. Just real, welcoming people. Who happen to be lesbians.

Fanookers and Doormats: Sprucing Up TV's Gay Characters

The Anti-Justin & The Anti-Jack
Justin Suarez on Ugly Betty is a cute little kid. He's all sway and sashay and self-denial-ay, with his love of fashion and divas and whatnot and his hatred of coming out. But it's all a little much sometimes. On the other end of the spectrum are characters like Jack McPhee from PBS' masterful Great Performances series Dawson's Creek. He was gay, but he acted like a Dude and played football and you wouldn't know he was gay unless you caught him suckin' mug with someone in a rowboat down by the crick. A more recent example would be Calvin and his fratbro boyfriend on Greek. It's cute, but in trying to buck a stereotype they're kind of just creating a new one. Palatable young gay males on TV are either gayer than Switzerland or golden-boy sportos. And some gays are like that in real life too. Yay diversity. But what if on TV we also got someone with a little more blend, who exists somewhere in the murky middle of the personality spectrum. The Marshall character on United States of Tara comes pretty close — the series is admirably blunt and unapologetic and unexploitative about his gayness, with nary a Coming Out episode to be found - but we'd like to see more of it. Really we're just asking for nuance.

Fanookers and Doormats: Sprucing Up TV's Gay Characters

Gay Adventurers!
Gay folks on the telly are usually relegated to supportive friend characters or outfrabulous recurring comedy acts. Usually they're featured on soft-touch family type series like Brothers & Sisters or on big breezy comedies. Which is great, good good good get 'em all on the air. But wouldn't it also be cool to see some filthy bugger brandishing a gun and kicking down Arab terror doors alongside Jack from The 24? Or solving crimes with the growing tundra of Christian Slater's forehead? Britain's had their dashing John Barrowman on Dr. Who/Torchwood for a few years now, and we think it's time the States had at least one of our own. We don't watch all the TV, so there could be one out there already, but if he or she exists, we haven't heard much about them. As for adding more, it's unlikely that they'll just suddenly make Mark Harmon a big old 'mo on NCIS or anything, so it'd likely have to be a new character or a new show. How about a sexy spy series with this British import? We'd all watch that.