WHICH CAME FIRST — THE CHICKEN OR THE GAY DAD?
Last week Out magazine published the results of their Love and Sex Survey and one of the most notable results was the very large generation gap between gay men on the subjects of gay marriage and having children.
While only 51% of those aged 36 to 45 want to get married, 80% of those 18 to 25 want to do so. The gap is even bigger when it comes to having children. While a whopping 70% of those under the age of 25 want little bundles of joy, only 31% of those over 25 are interested in changing diapers. Even though this is Out’s first time doing this survey, I’d wager that even ten years ago, the gap wouldn’t have been nearly so large.
Coincidentally — or not — this week saw the debut of USA’s Fairly Legal, yet another show which includes an out gay man who is a dad. This comes on top of Kevin and Scotty apparently moving ahead with their adoption of Olivia on Brothers & Sisters, while over on Desperate Housewives, Bob and Lee have adopted Liza. Heck, even Christian and Olli on Forbidden Love in Germany are parents now. And, of course, we can’t forget Cameron and Mitchell of Modern Family.
Ethan Embry as Spencer on Fairly Legal
And that got me to wondering, have all those young gays been watching TV, seeing all those happy ’mos with kids, which then prompts them to say to their significant other, “Honey, let’s get a surrogate pregnant!” Or is the popular culture simply reflecting what’s going on in the gay community?
Gay dads on TV aren’t exactly a new phenomenon, of course. Way back in 1972, the TV movie That Certain Summer was about a gay man who had a son that didn’t know his dad was gay. And over the years other shows have included gay men as fathers including The OC, Queer as Folk and even Will & Grace. But more often than not, those children resulted from when the men were previously married or accidentally got someone pregnant while trying to figure out their sexuality. There were exceptions like David and Keith on Six Feet Under or the gay dads in the 2003 sitcom It’s All Relative, but nowadays it seems like every gay man who is a dad actually set out to be a dad.
I find this trend somewhat ironic as our counterparts over at our sister site AfterEllen have long lamented the fact that every lesbian on television seems to eventually end up pregnant. Meanwhile, us gays were usually depicted as flighty or bitchy or fashionistas or sex-crazed, if not all all four. But we certainly weren’t parent material.
And while I can’t argue with the thesis that TV lesbians were often knocked up as a way to desexualize them and make them more palatable to mainstream audiences, I don’t think the same can be said about what’s happening with gay men on TV. Yes, I know some will argue that giving gay men children also dexualizes the men and makes them more “mainstream,” but far too often popular culture has show gay men as hypersexed, so I can live with that.
More than that, I think the Out survey shows that it’s a pretty accurate reflection of what a certain segment of the gay community is feeling these days and that what we are seeing on B&S or Modern Family is reflecting that change, rather than driving it. I know that some conservative wingnuts like to blame popular culture for everything from teenage sex, to drug use, to voting Democratic, but in this case it’s us ’mos pushing the envelope.
That being said, I think these gay TV dads are hugely influential on the popular culture as they can change the minds of the straight people watching who might not yet be down with the whole gay marriage/parenting thing. Honestly, who can watch Mitch and Cam and not want them to live happily ever after. In fact, there are already reports that MF is hugely popular with conservatives, so you know some minds are being changed.
As for Brent and myself, after watching Fairly Legal, we decided to jump on the bandwagon and adopt! Okay, not really. We’re more likely to announce that, inspired by Black Swan, we’re moving to New York to take up ballet dancing in hopes of being so devoted to our craft we go bonkers and get nominated for an Oscar.
We did talk about having kids when we first got together, but Brent was never keen on the idea. I did think I wanted to be a dad, at least until I smashed my third computer to bits after the screen froze up, forcing me to realize that perhaps I didn’t have the quite the right temperament to be a parent. Thankfully, I never got anyone pregnant before figuring that out!
Next page! Glee isn’t on the air right now and yet….
SOME FAMILIAR FACES AND ONE FINAL APPEARANCE
I missed most of last week’s TV while in Los Angeles for the TCA, but worked frantically to get caught up this week. See, how I suffer for you? Anyhow, here are this week’s Power Rankings for this week and last. And while one show isn’t even on the air at the moment, it still turned out be quite important to this week’s rankings.
Rank (Last Week)
|The Golden Globes
|We’re so proud!|
Kurt and Blaine
Our boys cuddling on the cover of Entertainment Weekly? Now that is something to sing about!
|Did you see how Officer Cuddlybear dealt with the kid with the drugs? And helped out Rookieboy? That’s why I heart him so much!|
|Brothers & Sisters
|By adopting Olivia, zooms to #1 on the DILF Hot 100. Wait, is that inappropriate to say?|
|Brothers & Sisters
|If the uptight Kevin is going to be a dad, he needs a college fund and a therapy fund for Olivia. Either that, or let her start drinking wine now.|
|Calvin and Cappie become best buds thanks to a philosophy class! And “bud” is the operative word here. Toke on, dudes!|
|You know, Waylon, it’s been twenty years. When it comes to Mr. Burns, I just don’t think he’s that into you.|
Cam and Mitch
|Wait, didn’t we see this on I Love Lucy? And every sitcom since? Well, I guess the gay thing makes it “fresh.” And the writing is great.|
|Brothers & Sisters
|Forgiveness is great, Saul. Now go get laid.|
|Downton Abbey (PBS)||When a lord tells you, “One swallow does not a summer, make” what’s a gay footman to do but try a little blackmail to get ahead?|
Next page! Pick him, Oprah! Pick him! Not that I’m trying to boss you around or anything! I’m not crazy after all.
I LIKE MY FEELINGS WITH DARK CHOCOLATE!
With the news this week that Regis Philbin is stepping down from whatever show that he hosts with that too perky woman that Neil Patrick Harris sometimes joins, there has been much speculation that an out gay might take on the job. But another gay man is already vying to helm his own talk show and not just any talk show either. It would be a talk show on God’s network. And of course, by God, I mean Oprah.
That man is Ryan O’Connor but first Ryan has to fight to the death a slew of other competitors on Your OWN Show: Oprah’s Search For The Next TV Star which happens to be hosted by the out Carson Kressley who will help decide which lucky supplicant will live and rise up into the pantheon of those anointed by God Oprah as worthy of appearing on her network.
AfterElton chatted with Ryan via email about his attempts to slaughter the competition, why he “eats his own feelings” in his one man show and much more!
AE: Given that this feature is called “Ryan O’Connor is … Snackable” and your one man musical show is called Ryan O’Connor Eats His Feelings, it seems like we were destined to do this interview. My favorite snack when I want to eat my feelings is chocolate chip cookies mashed up with chocolate chip mint soy ice cream. What’s yours?
Ryan O’Connor: A #2 from McDonalds. I realize that’s not technically a ‘snack” but a snack for a compulsive overeater looks much like a “meal” for a normal person!
AE: Which feelings do you most want to eat and which food best embodies those feelings?
RO: I tend to most often eat the feelings in the “loneliness” department and that’s when I turn to my favorite, Buffalo Chicken Strips. Nothing says loneliness like a plate of Buffalo Chicken Strips and reruns of Designing Women.
AE: You are competing for your own talk show on Oprah Winfrey’s new network. Have you met Oprah yet? Did she make you genuflect and kiss her ring?
RO: I have had the privilege of meeting Oprah a handful of times now, and I must say, there is a certain amount of palm sweating and shaking that just never seems to go away. She would never demand anyone to kiss her ring, but I totally would anyway!
AE: So I’ll take that as a yes. I bet she makes kiss her feet too! So Oprah has had her own issues with eating. Have you bonded over that topic?
RO: I told her on The Oprah Winfrey Show that I would have wheeled out a wagon full of fat, too, if I could have. She liked that. When I told her I ‘ate my feelings straight to the Oprah Winfrey Show” she got a big kick out of that. Making Oprah laugh is the equivalent of winning a Nobel Peace Prize, for me!
AE: So if you win, how will your talk show be different? Might you make audience members fight to the death?
RO: Cage matches. Definitely. Were you eavesdropping in my development meeting? The truth is, there hasn’t been a successful “variety show” in decades. So, I am pitching something truly tricky. But, I think there is an audience for a genuine, eclectic mix of pop culture, celebrity interview, digital video shorts, sketch comedy and musical numbers. I think it can work if someone gives it a chance to find an audience.
AE: What’s it been like working Carson Kressley? I bet he isn’t nearly so sweet when there aren’t reporters around, right?
RO: Carson was incredible. To be honest, I was really nervous about being the only gay contestant on the show. There’s a bit of pressure to represent more than yourself when you are the ONLY gay person chosen by Oprah for this show. So, when Carson hit the stage as host, I instantly felt that I wasn’t alone. Queer Eye for the Straight Guy was monumental for the gay community, and, let’s be real, Carson was the star. He is a trailblazer and having him as a mentor has been an honor.
AE: I’m going to tell Ted Allen you said that! Who is your talk show hero? And no sucking up to Oprah and saying it’s her!
RO: It really IS Oprah, BUT Rosie O’Donnell changed my life. I was a fat, musical theater loving, no friend, bully victim when her show came on the air. I honestly feel like we are soulmates. I have never met her, and quite possibly, might pass out if it ever happens. I’ll say this, Oprah made me want to be a talk show host and Rosie made me realize it was possible.
AE: Is trying to get your own show really a ploy to get a boyfriend or are you already taken?
RO: Ha! There was a time that would have been the case, but I am happily taken. I got engaged this past December to my man, Graham. He is 6’5”, former football player who builds furniture and looks like Ryan Gosling. No joke. He’s stunning, and even more than that, he’s the kindest man I’ve ever known. I am so in love it’s disgusting.
AE: Logo just announced there is a second season of the A-List. Have you tried to get on that show?
RO: I totally would. It would be career suicide and Oprah would probably disOWN me, but it’s just so juicy! I am actually hoping my business partner and friend, Scott Nevins, gets on the show and I can make a guest appearance. He would be great for the show and I would totally participate!
AE: If you were on the A-List what kind of behavior could we expect from you?
RO: I wish I could say I would be catty and amazing like Austin and Derrick, but I would probably end up being boring but likable like Mike Ruiz. I have a sick tendency to nurture when cameras are rolling. It’s a problem.
AE: Please, please be like Mike and not Austin. If you don’t get your own show on OWN, I think you should start your own network. What would you call it?
RO: Great idea! I’m gonna pitch it! Well, taking Oprah’s lead it would be called RON, which is hardly inviting. RON is the guy you don’t want to show up to the party. Maybe it should be called EAT, but it would NOT be a food network. I hate watching food and not being able to eat it. Makes me crazy. EAT would stand for ‘Entertaining and Titillating.”’
Follow Ryan on Twitter @RyanOConnor.
Your OWN Show: Oprah’s Search For The Next TV Star airs on Friday nights at 9 p.m. on OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network.
Next Page! What the heck is a “footman” anyway?
IN MY HUMBLE OPINION
Brothers & Sisters is flashing warning signs, an English import entertains, The Simpsons treads familiar ground, and Fairly Legal is barely there with its gay character.
DOWNTON ABBEY: This four-part British “television period drama series” originally aired in the UK and is now halfway through its run on PBS for those here in North America. While the show is definitely “British” in the upstairs/downstairs, aristocrat/servant way often associated with more highbrow, quiet entertainment, I’m actually finding the slower pace refreshing.
Of course, I wouldn’t be writing about this if there wasn’t a gay living somewhere in Downton Abbey and in this case that would Thomas, the First Footman for the Earl of Grantham. Thomas is a conniving schemer who wants to climb higher than mere “footman,” but his attempt to blackmail some minor Duke with whom he had a fling some years before goes for naught.
Thomas just before he gets shot down by Duke Somebody or another
In the second episode, Thomas thinks he’s found a “kindred” spirit when a Turkish diplomat comes to Downton. Unfortunately for Thomas, the diplomat doesn’t play for our team and Thomas finds himself the one being blackmailed.
In no way can Thomas be construed as a “good” character given how devious and ruthless he is, but as played by the hunky Rob James-Collier, Thomas is a lot of fun to watch. I’m actually impressed with how smarmy James-Collier comes across, given how cute he actually is
Rob James-Collier, smarmy and cute
Also fun to watch is Maggie Smith, even if she isn’t exactly playing against type, as well as Elizabeth McGovern who doesn’t get enough work.
If you’re still not interested, what if we pretend this is airing on edgy HBO and not boring PBS? Might I get you to watch then? (And before you PBS lovers start hurling flaming bags of poo at me, let me just say that as an NPR nut, PBS should totally appeal to me, but I can’t remember the last time I actually watched something on PBS. Honestly, I hear PBS and I think Pretty Boring, um, Stuff.)
How about I just let you watch the first episode here!
BTW, a “footman” isn’t someone with a foot fetish, but rather was a less essential servant that was used as a status symbol and was often chosen on the basis of their shapely legs which their tight pants showed off. I kid you not.
Next page! The gay guy … lives?
MODERN FAMILY: If a picture is worth a thousand words, this pic from this week’s episode (and these ten words) sum up the brilliance of this show both in the writing and the performances. BTW, Phil has totally grown on me both because I appreciate him more and because I suspect the show has toned him down some as well.
BROTHERS & SISTERS: If I sound nasally as I write this it’s because this episode was such a stinker, I’m being forced to hold my nose shut while I write about it. Given that the episode featured the return of Tommy, I guess it isn’t a total shock that it was a dud, but pretty much everything but Kevin and Scotty’s storyline was a total clunker. All the stuff with Justin’s new girlfriend and the revelation Tommy was engaged was heavy-handed and obvious. It’s no wonder the ratings have kept sliding and that the show is now on the bubble for cancellation.
Please, please, spin Kevin and Scotty off into their own show!
NCIS: I confess to never watching this show except when there is a gay subplot as I am Bored.To.Tears by all these crime procedurals. But at least one of the gays survived this episode and the show’s sentiment was clearly on our side. I’ll call that a win.
THE SIMPSONS: This week saw Springfield get a new gay bar called “Flaming Moe” as Mr. Smithers tried yet again to win Mr. Burns — or least his respect. While I appreciate the gay-themed episode, it seems every time The Simpson’s includes more than one gay character, it’s just a collection of cliches from swishy guys with poodles to gym bunnies with bulging muscles. And everyone always seems to lisp.
SOUTHLAND: So Rookieboy let’s the store owner keep the gun and the owner then shoots some poor guy who wants to use the bathroom. Meanwhile, Cuddlybear lets the kid with crack pipe go and apparently he’s fine. Southland must have new writers ’cuz the old writers totally would’ve had the kid overdose and Cuddlybear find his body. I guess the show is lightening up! Maybe next week, Officer Cuddlybear and Rookieboy can hit Disneyland for Gay Days!
Next page! Why didn’t we know there was a gay cheerleader?
BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE!
We didn’t bother to review The Dilemma last week, partly because Brent and I were at the TCA and partly because, well, one lame gay joke doesn’t make a movie worth reviewing. Frankly, given that the Ron Howard/Vince Vaughn movie is currently scoring 25% on Rotten Tomatoes, I’m really glad we missed this one.
This week sees the Ashton Kutcher/Natalie Portman romcom No Strings Attached open. This flick landed on our radar because of the redband trailer featuring not only Kutcher’s bare tush, but one of Portman’s male roommates ogling Kutcher’s ass and saying “Yep, I’m gay.” One of the characters also has two gay dads, a fact which is referenced several times. We also see a glimpse of them once at the very end.
Ashton Kutcher in No Strings Attached
While I guess I appreciate the fact the movie includes a gay character, if even this briefly, I have to say that I’m really over the trend of such minor gay characters in these straight romantic comedies. The ’mo in Strings is like the three lame gays in He’s Just Not That Into You in that these characters are included so the creators can say they have diversity, which is great in theory, but feels like so much tokenism.
At least the gay guy in No Strings Attached isn’t the butt of a joke or portrayed as creepy. Brent didn’t really much like the movie, and while I can’t disagree with any of his points, thanks to Kutcher and Portman, I found it better than most of the recent romcoms.
This week I posted the news that The Vampire Diaries wouldn’t be adding a gay character this season. Some folks weren’t happy and criticized TVD’s creator Kevin Williamson for not having found a way to do it yet. A couple of thoughts here. First, Williamson has included gay characters in past show’s he’s done including Dawson’s Creek and Hidden Palms, so criticizing him for not having a gay character here doesn’t exactly seem fair. Second, not every show has to have a gay character. It would be nice if they did, but that’s not the world we live in.
The fact that TVD doesn’t yet have a gay character won’t keep me from enjoying it one bit, and I’ll take Williamson at his word that he’s trying to find a way to do it right.
Last year I reported that USA’s new show Facing Kate would include an out gay character when it debuted. Well, it finally arrived Thursday night, although the name had been changed to the rather odd Fairly Legal which to me sounds more like an adult movie title.
I’ve seen three episodes of the show thus far and the good news is that even though it’s yet another legal drama, it puts a nice spin on it by having Kate (played by the appealing Sara Shahi) be a mediator rather than yet one more lawyer. We’re (mostly) spared more courtroom scenes and having Kate be a mediator opens up the legal storylines in some potentially interesting ways, although mediators probably aren’t going to get involved in too many murder cases or cover ups.
All that being said, I can’t claim I loved it either, especially not nearly as much as USA’s White Collar which adds a pretty compelling overarching story arc to that show’s weekly mysteries. Fairly Legal’s main story arc seems to be whether or not Kate will get back together with her friends-with-benefits ex. Given that he’s played by the fairly hunky Michael Trucco, I’m guessing the answer to that is yes.
The bad news, at least based on the three episodes I watched (the first, fourth and tenth for some reason were what the network sent me), is that Spencer, the gay character, lands squarely in the “barely there” category.
What we do see of him is fine, mostly Spencer (played by Ethan Embry) interacting with his sister Kate as they discuss their respective issues, but we don’t see much even of that and Ethan is listed as appearing in only five of the first thirteen episodes. Michael Sardo, the show’s creator, certainly seems to have good intentions for Spencer (who is a stay-at-home dad), but unless one of the episodes I’ve yet to see features Ethan in a much more substantial way, don’t be expecting to see Ethan on the Power Rankings any time soon.
While I was at the TCA it came to my attention that the CW show Hellcats includes a gay cheerleader named Darwin played by Jeremy Wong. (I also heard from a reader about Darwin at about the same time.) I’m guessing Darwin must not be that big a part of the show as we haven’t heard much about him before now, but if anyone has followed the show, feel free to tell us more about Darwin in the comments. If he warrants coverage, I’ll see if I can stomach watching Hellcats.
Jeremy Wong on Hellcats
Earlier I said that I thought NBC’s new superhero drama The Cape might be (and should be) the first show to be canceled this year. That hasn’t happened yet, but the show did drop 31% in the ratings from the first ep to the second ep. Meanwhile, Southland increased a tiny little bit from last week. Go Officer Cuddlybear!
If you haven’t already done so, be sure to vote in 365Gay’s Anti-Bullying PSA contest! Here is the video I voted for but be sure to watch the rest and vote for your favorite.
Finally, Spartacus returns Friday night and as soon as the episode has aired, we’ll have our recap up! And 90210 returns on Monday, so Tuesday I’ll be mocking Trevor Donovan’s age recapping that as well.
Now I’ll shut up so you can have the BEST.GAY.WEEK.EVER!