The Stereotyping of Gay TV
November 17, 2009
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This week, Newsweek magazine offers up an article titled “Kings of Queens”. You quickly find within the subtitle the direction this perennial weekly intends to take — Gays on TV once helped promote tolerance. Now they may be hurting it. Christopher Mangum of the Advocate quickly picks up the Newsweek article, yet offers no insight.
The article is flawed. Ramin Setoodeh, the reporter, picks and chooses its gay and lesbian TV characters in order to sell us a defected bill of goods. For example, he fails to observe the complete normal life of Kevin and Scotty, the legally married gay couple on ABC’s Brothers & Sisters. Moreover, the article merely touches on the some of the facets within the GLBT community. We’re not a monolith.
The article touches on Fox’s Glee character, Kurt Hummel, who represents the struggling high school student everyone knows is gay, but slowly begins to talk about it with his closest friend, and then his father (who deserves the PFLAG parent of the year award based on last week’s episode alone).
And while Sara Ramirez’ Callie Torres (Grey’s Anatomy) is “curvy” and “bisexual” as they say, Jessica Capshaw’s Arizona Robbins, while just as beautiful, doesn’t quite fit the bill the article pushes, so the author chooses not to mention her.
Gay characters on TV have come a long way since Billy Crystal’s portrayal of Jodie Dallas on a comedy called Soap (1977) and Jack Coleman as Steven Carrington on Dynasty (1981). GLAAD will tell you just that. Just look at the maturing of Shawn Pyfrom’s Andrew Van de Kamp on Desperate Housewives.
And I just love Setoodeh’s comment about how even Rachel Maddow wears lipstick on TV, as if to say that lesbians as a rule, don’t wear make up. I guess he’s never heard the term lipstick lesbian.