TV

Alan Cumming Makes History Playing First Gay Lead In A U.S. Network Drama

"It's an incredible thing and a terrible thing at the same time."

Alan Cumming is returning to television this season in Instinct, a police procedural with a groundbreaking twist.

Based on a James Patterson novel, the CBS drama stars Cumming as Dr. Dylan Reinhart, a former CIA operative lured back into law enforcement after becoming a professor and authoring a best-selling book on abnormal behavior.

Instinct/CBS

But Dr. Reinhart is also gay and married, which makes Instinct the first hourlong broadcast series in the U.S. with a gay leading character.

Cumming, already known to CBS viewers for his Emmy-nominated role on The Good Wife, discussed his new character’s sexuality this weekend at the Television Critics Association’s semi-annual press tour in Pasadena, Deadline reports.

“It was one of the reasons I wanted to do the show,” said Cumming, who is also an executive producer on the series. “To be the first ever network drama [with a gay lead] on U.S. television, it’s an incredible thing and a terrible thing at the same time.”

Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

“I’m married to a man so I brought that to the table,” the bisexual actor added. “Most times, when we see gay characters on American TV, their gayness is the prime thing. Their gayness is sometimes the problem. What’s refreshing about this is there’s a successful relationship and they’re supportive of each other. And [being gay] is also the fourth or fifth most interesting thing about this character.”

CBS has been criticized for its lack of diversity, but the network’s entertainment chief, Glenn Geller, came out publicly as gay last year and expressed his commitment to making CBS programming more inclusive.

“I applaud everyone at CBS for having the courage to put that on, in the climate that might not be the best time to do it,” Cumming told the TCA crowd. “Socially and politically, especially at time in America where gay people are being persecuted and our rights are being removed and the president is condoning the persecution against gay people by his silence, it was all the more important to have a character with a healthy same-sex marriage on TV.”

Instinct/CBS

Instinct executive producer and showrunner Michael Rauch also praised the network, adding that Cumming’s gay character sets the series apart from other procedurals and “sets it apart in the world.”

The Club Cumming co-owner later joked that the backwards “N” in the Instinct title graphic is “secret code to say ‘No’ to Trump.”

Instinct, which premieres March 11 on CBS, also stars Sharon Leal, Bojana Novakovic, Naveen Andrews, and Whoopi Goldberg.
 

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