Dear NBC: No more Ted Haggard/gay hustler stories, please!

law and order.jpgLess than two weeks after NBC’s Law & Order aired an episode titled Church about a televangelist involved with a gay hustler, last night’s Law & Order: Criminal Intent aired an episode called Brothers Keeper about a televangelist involved with…a gay hustler. Wow! What are the odds?

Despite the disclaimer running before each show that the events are entirely fictional–snort–both are basically take-off’s on the Reverend Ted Haggard scandal. Yes, it was big news and both shows base their stories on yesterday’s headlines, but honestly, two series (one spun off from the other) on the same network doing almost identical shows less than two weeks apart? (Note to the writers for each show: wonderful new invention called email out there that allows you to exchange information so as to avoid embarrassing duplications like this!)

vincetn.jpgAs if doing almost the same story wasn’t bad enough, I’m really tired of the gay hustler bit. This is such a cliche that gay interior designers, hair stylists, and pageant directors are almost starting to seem fresh. Oy. Frankly, if I were the religious sort, I’d also be moaning about the cliche of the dim, but devoted Christian flock and the ruthless money-grubbers really in charge of these big churches.

That being said, I do appreciate both shows pointing out the hypocrisy involved in churches like Haggard’s and their anti-gay agenda. It would just be nice to see it played out against something other than gay hustlers. Yes, we’ve seen other episodes involving parental custody, etc, but Hollywood definitely over-relies on this bit.

Say, here’s a crazy thought: How about adding a gay detective to the cast! Believe it or not, gay folks really do more than run mega-churches from the closet and work as hustlers, struggling actors, and waiters. In fact, I think NBC should give Chad Allen a call. He’s already done very strong work playing a private eye and would be a great addition. Email me and I’ll put you in touch with him. No extra charge or anything!

Of the two episodes, I preferred last night’s. I didn’t think Criminal Intent’s plot was that much better , but I find Vincent D’Onofrio to be such a compelling actor that he made his episode more watchable.