TV Roundup: Is Middle America Ready for a New Round of Gay Shows?
Will Ryan Murphy, Ellen DeGeneres and Lisa Cholodenko open TV’s next pink envelope?
In the last couple of years, Hollywood has slowly started to open one of its most neglected closet doors--the openly gay character--by offering gay-themed programming precisely adapted to the specific rhythms and needs of Middle, predominately heterosexual, America. This trend is nowhere more evident than in shows like Modern Family, Ellen, Sex and the City, Glee, Will and Grace, Desperate Housewives, Grey’s Anatomy, Nip/Tuck and Brothers and Sisters, among others.
Yes, the gays have officially gone mainstream, but mainstream has officially watered-down the gays, as if it they are just one of those facts of TV life (like commercials) audiences can always take for granted. Don't act surprised, then, if you continue to see the same sort of safe, straight-centric lens investigate gay behavior on the small screen. Remember, it's there to keep gay characters from seeing themselves outside of their appointed, one-dimensional lifespan.
But could the following three, new gay-friendly shows--recently picked up by HBO, NBC and ABC--change all of that? Just Maybe? Is Middle America ready for this gay television jelly?
First up: HBO just purchased the rights to turn The Kids are All Right--the Academy Award nominated film about a lesbian couple, their kids and their sperm donor--into an hour-long series. Lisa Cholodenko, who directed the original feature, will write the pilot script and executive produce along with Jeffrey Levy-Hinte, Gary Gilbert and Celine Rattray (Deadline).
Next: NBC picked up a gay family comedy from Hollywood‘s busiest gay, Ryan Murphy (writer/director of Glee, American Horror Story, Nip/Tuck). The show centers on a gay couple and the surrogate mother who helps them start a family. According to Deadline Hollywood, it “has been hailed as the biggest comedy sale this season” (Deadline).
Last and probably the least gay: ABC has dibs on Weitz & Wong, a comedy about a mixed-race, Jewish / Chinese, couple. Although it doesn’t sound as gay as the other two shows, its executive producer, Ellen DeGeneres--who once played one of America‘s first openly gay characters-- certainly does (Deadline).