Exploring Revolution's Homoerotic Subtext: Why Miles and Monroe's Relationship Is More Interesting Than the Blackout

By Tim Surette

Jun 07, 2013

Early in its life, Revolution was a drama about society's efforts to survive 15 years after a worldwide blackout. Its themes were simple: family, family, and family. But as family members started dying off, swords were ditched for guns, and the power flickered back on, the show's themes changed. By the end of this week's Season 1 finale, "The Dark Tower," new themes had overtaken the series: gun control, technology's place in war, the dissemination of information, and man's greatest question... should I take the elevator or the stairs? However, one theme that's been hanging around just below the surface all season long went from a simmer to a boil in Monday's episode: unrequited love. But not between Nora and Miles. Not between Rachel and Miles. I'm talking about Sebastian Monroe and Miles Matheson. And while the rest of "The Dark Tower" made very little sense and was very forgettable, the burgeoning relationship between Miles and Monroe was so clear that I can't stop thinking about it.

The finale picked up right where the previous episode had left off, with Monroe going after Miles with the intent to kill him. But things took a turn when a common enemy showed up, forcing/allowing Miles and Monroe—former mortal enemies, as we were led to believe—to join forces and save each other's asses. Anyone who's watched a few episodes of Revolution knows the characters have a nasty habit of switching allegiances for no apparent reason, but this was sudden even by the show's standards, and it certainly elicited a very surprised "WHAT!?" from me. I just couldn't figure out why these two were working together mere moments after they'd been so eager to kill each other. But a few scenes later, the impetus for the change of heart was obvious: Sebastian Monroe is clearly obsessed with Miles Matheson, and it's confusing the hell out of him. And it's not just me who thinks so; even Tom Neville (Giancarlo Esposito) picked up on it, as later in the episode he said (to Monroe), and I'm not making this up, "You have a borderline erotic fixation on Miles Matheson." 

Over the course of the series, there's always been something going on with these two. They've been best friends, they've shared women, they've wrestled. But in "The Dark Tower," the brotherly love—which had already become a little steamier than that of a normal friendship—evolved into a possible homoerotic wonderland. Once their common threat was vanquished, they somehow rode the Tower's sewer line/waterslide out to a beach, where Miles lay there unconscious and awoke to Monroe watching him sleep. And then as soon as Miles opened his eyes, the pair started pounding on each other like hormonal preteens—but never to the point of real life-threatening danger. Just enough to work up a sweat and and tussle Monroe's hair.

When they weren't grabbing at each other and punching each other in the face, they were firing off lines of dialogue as if they were working out some relationship issues. Monroe to Miles, embodying the spurned lover: "Everything I have ever done was for you. You care so much about the Republic, I don't care. The only thing I ever cared about was watching your back. That's the only reason I followed you into any of this." This is a man who took control of an army to start his conquest of America, but now claims that he doesn't care about world domination, he only cares about Miles Matheson. That seems like an awful lot of effort to make an impression. Obsessed isn't a strong-enough word for Monroe's feelings toward Miles. Watch how badly he yearns for the old days (and notice how the conversations they have are frequently interrupted by gunfire, helicopters, or other immediate threats that don't allow for closure):

And here's Miles to Monroe, telling Monroe why he couldn't kill him before, but he may as well have been explaining why he can't be Monroe's lover: "Ask me why I couldn't. We're still brothers, and as much as I hate that, let me tell you, I do, that's never going to change." Miles is in denial about the nature of their friendship, but he's also guilty of leading Monroe on at times, like when he gave Monroe a flirty nod to say, "Come on over, I won't hurt you" when they teamed up at the beginning of the finale.

After "The Dark Tower," I went back and re-watched Miles and Monroe's excellent bro-down n the midseason finale, "Nobody's Fault But Mine," to check for consistency... and it was more of the same. Monroe was pleading, practically on his knees, for Miles to come back to him. He went on about how they're better together than apart. And about how Rachel, Miles' one-time lover and sister-in-law, isn't Miles' family, Monroe is. Coincidentally or not, it's in these moments that David Lyons really delivers his best performances. Also coincidentally or not, this is when Revolution is at its best.

This is what I wrote back then about Miles and Monroe's scene in "Nobody's Fault But Mine," and it still stands:

Monroe pleading with Miles to come back smacked of Eric Kripke's accidentally homoerotic fan-fic fodder Supernatural has been so successful with. I mean, for a second, I really thought the two were about to embrace and shove their tongues down each other's throats during that final confrontation. But if we're at least picking that up on our gaydar, it means there's genuine characterization and emotion at play, two basic elements of writing that have been entirely absent from the series so far.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not laughing at any of this. Well, maybe a little. But there's no doubt that Miles and Monroe have, by far, the most compelling and clearly defined relationship in the series. For a show that keeps trying to convince us that Rachel and Miles have a spark, that Miles and Nora are former lovers, and that Jason and Charlie are in love (all three of those relationships are as romantic as a slaughterhouse), it's Miles and Monroe's relationship that feels the most believable, whether it's platonic or otherwise. 

And again, there's nothing wrong with this. Absolutely nothing, and I'm being serious. I feel like I have to repeat that because I know everyone thinks I just make fun of this show, but I'm really truly serious! I don't know how intentional the homoerotic subtext is, but it's all over the place. Even no-nonsense Neville agreed with me, for cryin' out loud. You have a borderline erotic fixation on Miles Matheson. So obviously Revolution's writers are aware of it, right? 

So that's why I'm begging the writers to go with this. Hell, go as far as giving Miles and Monroe a former fling, or just continue to insinuate that Monroe's fixation on Miles extends to some dark place beyond them just being buddies. I don't know if a story like this has ever played out on television before, certainly not on a network sci-fi show, but go for it. Blaze some trails, bring network science-fiction into the 21st century. Men at war have secrets, it happens. Miles and Monroe's off-and-on relationship is the strongest part of Revolution and it needs more focus than just two confrontations a season.

Because let's face it: They've had plenty of opportunities to kill each other, had their guns pointed at each other's faces, but neither one has ever able to pull the trigger. These two can't quit each other, and they shouldn't.

Are you as struck as I am by Miles and Monroe's relationship? What do you think the show should do with it?

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  • dfwenigma Oct 06, 2014

    A few years ago historians started reconsidering Lincoln. Was he bisexual? Was he gay? He was clearly manic depressive. Why? Why did they ask these questions. Because he expressed his open love for men that he truly loved. He cared for and about them greatly. This was before the first radios and telegraphs were brand new. Relationships were stronger and more intense because the stakes were higher. I think one day we're going to find that love, friendship, caring, respect and reciprocity - common to most good human relationships gay or straight - are a healthy outgrowth of the human survival instinct.

    I believe the reason people are so lonely is because we took something - sex - we made it banal. We made it a physical thing with little or no tie to what we're feeling and then we wondered why the monster we created made us so numb.

    Men and women need to love and be loved; respect and be respected; feel useful; take care of and be taken care of; experience friendship and trust; love physically and emotionally, platonically and carnally. These are normal things.

    Add intensity involving human survival of any kind and I suspect if we took chemical measurements of people's brains - if we drew blood and did deep analyses we'd probably find that Dopamine is higher in men and women who experience these things. These two men experienced nearly every emotion together. That they grew close is pretty normal. Their relationship may have even been physical.

    Little known is that "he men" such as Picasso and Hemingway - known for their intense female sexual conquests - both experienced one or more deep emotional and physical relationships with other men. In Picasso's case when he was about 13 or 14 he had a love affair with a young man from his village. It was passionate and short lived but he admitted later it was much deeper than some of his female relationships. Was he bisexual? I don't think so.

    Miles Matheson and Ben have an emotional relationship this is probably not very healthy since they seem to express their camaraderie in some pretty disturbing ways. Sexuality isn't binary. Many men and women would like it to be - it is clearly not.

  • unchienne Dec 03, 2013

    I think their relationship harkens back to the days when men weren't ashamed to show their love for other men...and not necessarily in a sexual way. We have a funny perspective of male friendship in modern society. Women can form strong bonds with each other, show jealousy of their bestie's affections, tell one another we love them, cry over the loss of a friend to the point where we can genuinely say we're heartbroken, etc...and no one thinks anything of it. However, if a man does the same thing, he's thought of as harboring sexual feelings towards his friend. Not condemning you on this; I am merely recognizing that society tends to think this way. I remember reading Shakespearean plays in school and having all the kids titter about whenever one male character expressed his love for another. Shouts of "he's gay" would ring out. Don't know when love and sex became synonymous in this country or why a trait of masculinity is to be emotionally distant from anyone except those they are romantically involved with, but I like how Kripke isn't afraid of making the relationship deeper, even in the face of those who would shout "they're gay" from the back of the room.

  • ceegee3344 Nov 01, 2013

    I haven't seen all of the show (only a few episodes), but from what I saw no one has the chemistry that Miles and Monroe have (whether or not it's totally platonic).

    I don't think their chemistry is an accident by any means. Kripke works on this and he tries to cast people with great chemistry to be his central "couple." He did it on Supernatural, too. Like Supernatural, I do not think there are any genuine romantic emotions between Miles and Monroe, but I do think that they have feelings for each other that are intense enough that it's often categorized as romantic because no one writes friends who are each other's be-all and end-all (even if more people should). They're brothers, best friends, worst enemies, family, and a lot of other intense things all rolled into one. It doesn't even need the help of romance (this goes for Supernatural as well).

    And I think Neville's comment was Kripke and the writers poking a little fun at the fans (who I assume have started shipping Miles and Monroe already). And also poking a little fun at themselves at the same time.

    So while I don't think Miles and Monroe are romantically or erotically codependent (lol!), I do think their relationship is by far the best thing on the show. But one of the reasons I KNOW they aren't romantically involved is because network TV only writes same sex romance as SAME SEX ROMANCE. They can't be two people who happen to like each other in the midst of a large plot. It has to be about them LIKING MEN (or at least one man). Because apparently being gay (or a guy sleeping with a guy, at least) is a BIG DEAL on TV. Should it be? No. But seriously, TV doesn't write people who are a million things and happen to be gay. It's all about being gay all the time.

    But do I think it'd be awesome if they actually were a (romantic) couple? Hells yeah. I'd probably even watch the show regularly. I don't care what anyone's sex is, if they have awesome romantic chemistry (which none of the other couples on the show do), I'm in!

  • Jojask Jun 18, 2013

    There may or may not be a homoerotic subtext to their relationship but whatever it is, as bad as the writing is, everything in this show might well be completely unintentional.

  • LAF Jun 10, 2013

    I've been wanting Revolution to be played as a melodrama for a while now. It fails as a sci-fi wannabe, so go all out with the operatic schmaltz. At least it's fun. You are right that it's because there's "genuine characterization and emotion at play". It's rare to really care about these people.

    To pound the SPN comparison, Rachel is 100% John Winchester and Charlie the poorass version of Dean (no substitutes), and they are primed for a knock down melodrama too. With Ben Edlund (damn u Kripke) coming over, some humor and melodrama could be good (can't say great lol).

  • gtbell Jun 09, 2013

    Tim, I don't know/care what your sexual preference is but I think you should get out more. Nothing wrong with two male leads having a strong brotherly past. Give up on the homoerotica. It's beneath you.

  • sraley2 Jun 09, 2013

    I don't think Tim's point was to push a homoerotic agenda, I think it was to point out the obvious undertones (and overtones) of the writing. And to express the opinion that this is the most interesting part about the show.
    Why should that be beneath him?

  • Ninjaandy Jun 17, 2013

    It's beneath him because it seems like a clear attempt to attach the current zeitgeist about homosexuality to a place where it doesn't exist, very much like what happened with the hobbits in the Lord of the Rings films.

    It also reinforces the mistaken (and perhaps psychologically damaging) notion that men can't be emotionally attached to one another without there being sexual feelings involved. Much of modern culture would have us believe that a man can't say "I love you" to another man without homosexual overtones. But that's not what history shows us, and it's not what human nature shows us.

    So my objection (and probably gtbell's, I would guess) is that what you claim are "obvious undertones" are not obvious and, in fact, don't exist here. Perhaps you (and Time) think they do because you've been told to look for them.

    I think the prevalent attitude of "finding gays under every bush" is just as bad when pro-homosexual people do it as when anti-homosexual people do. It does a disservice both to gay men who love other men in sexual and non-sexual ways, and to straight men who love their male friends like true brothers.

    In short: enough with looking for homosexuality everywhere. It is where it is, and it isn't where it isn't. And it (probably) isn't in Revolution.

  • TracyTrouble Sep 13, 2013

    Completely agree with you ninjaandy; it's always seemed to me that Surette has a problem with guys being close to other guys. I imagine he's been raised with the usual male idea that such close ties are 'sissy' and 'queer'. So of course when such an instance appears on a tv show he immediately assumes the relationship has got to be homosexual in nature.

    Sadly the constant message he then sends out in his reviews to other males is therefore "don't get attached to male friends, or show them you care, or other men will think you're gay. They're so obviously gay for each other in this show that it's brokeback revolution!"

    Case in point, my daughter's 15 and a boy at her school is very close to a pal of his as they've known each other since playschool. There's issues in the other boy's life that my daughter's friend is trying to support him through - things that aren't common knowledge at the school. Yet every time my daughter's friend tries to support and be there for his best friend everyone around them guffaws nastily and coughs "queer" at them.

    My daughter's furious about it and says it shouldn't matter if they were gay, but they're not. She asked me why can't they just be close pals without all the bullying? I showed her Surette's article and said "this is why - even grown men would say they're gay."

    She told me Surette's article is promoting the sort of attitude that means her friends are being bullied at school.

    Here's an FYI for Surette - I do actually have a homosexual cousin who is in a long term relationship now. When I gave him the link to Surette's article, he fell about laughing and said the guy had obviously never met a real gay in his life or he was just trying to be deliberately provocative. I know what I think it is......

  • sraley2 Jun 18, 2013

    I don't think anyone was looking for anything, under bushes or elsewhere. The writers on the show Wrote In a line in which one of the characters pointed out exactly what we have been talking about- the possibility that what's-his-name has a crush on that vampire chick's dad. Homosexually. If the writers themselves hadn't brought up the subject, I probably wouldn't have thought of it at all.
    Thanks for the dissertation, though.

  • Ninjaandy Jun 19, 2013

    Tom mentioned it to insult Bas, not to actually point out a truth. He's not actually serving as the over-obvious mouthpiece of the writers.

    Other clues from the show overwhelmingly demonstrate Miles' and Bas' relationship being brotherly, and both of them also being straight as razorblades. One off-hand insult from a bad guy shouldn't be taken as a repudiation of all that came before, especially when there's another, more likely, explanation.

  • Ninjaandy Jun 17, 2013

    This comment has been removed.

  • BereniceAndrea Jun 09, 2013

    I also support the Miles/Monroe romance. I think you portrait the other relationships on the show perfectly: as romantic as a slaughterhouse. Miles and Monroe really do have a lot of chemestry and clearly deep feelings towards one another. It is by far Revolution's most interesting and intriguing storyline. I say go for it. If done right, I could develop into something beyond great, giving Revolution a unique spice.

  • GirishKrishna1 Jun 09, 2013

    And how can the reviewer still not know that the show was never about people trying to survive the blackout after 15 years?! It was about people vying for power since the very beginning. That's just lazy observation, Tim.

  • GirishKrishna1 Jun 09, 2013

    The minute when a guy opens up his heart about how much another guy means to him and how much he respects and loves him (in a brotherly way), then everybody thinks they have homo tendencies. What is wrong with this world! Or maybe this is just in America. But one thing I do agree on is that there are powerful scenes when Miles and Monroe share the screen. I had hoped Revolution would become great by the end of the season, but it hasn't happened. It isn't a deal breaker though since the show is quite entertaining.

  • ChicN Jun 09, 2013

    I love how every single review I've run across about this finale has been 20% screaming about the sheer stupidity of EVERYTHING and 80% real-talk about the homoerotic "subtext" of Miles and Monroe.

    I think the subtext between the two, that everyone and their grandmother is commenting on, happened on purpose... accidentally. What I mean by that is, all of Kripes' writing and show running weaknesses he displayed in Supernatural (poor pacing, plotholes, logic free plotlines, retconning the rules of his established world repeatedly to fit a throw-a-way storyline, no respect for distances between places, characters seeming to have schizophrenic personality disorders with themselves and with others to fit a storyline, heteronormative romantic relationships being tossed in haphazardly to be lifeless and somehow misogynist before disappearing and forgotten (unless one of the prominent male characters needs some unrelated angst to round out the hour), male relationships that are supposed to come off as platonic or familial, but continuously drawing the side-eyes of: I don't think these phrases mean what you think they mean), but with a bigger budget.

    Fangirl Notice: I like SPN. It has Jensen Ackles, who is hot and can act. There is Misha, too. Jared's fabulous lion mane.A badass car. And MAGIC and full-fledged criminal behavior to lay my weary head to rest about logical real world concerns.

    Miles and Monroe are pretty much the only interesting relationship the show has semi-established. However, I think they've already squandered what could have been a compelling storyline, pretty much like the whole premise and execution of the show. They've shown Monroe unhinged, he's contributed to the deaths of Miles' actual brother and nephew (and that random long-lost love interest); I know people forget why they're angry mid-episode on this show, but this is a bit much to handwave. I mean, the nanites can no longer be used as an excuse for the blown circuits in everyone's brains.

    But since, the show sucks as is, I'll play.

    It wouldn't be out of nowhere to have season 2 open up with Monroe spilling his unrequited love woe over drinks to a stranger, thus bringing about a gentle dawning of awareness in the few audience members that never cottoned on to his gayness (or Miles-ness). I assume these are the same viewers who don't see a damn thing wrong with the science or magic portals the walking "heroes" use to get across the US on foot.

    Monroe I can see as loving Miles since childhood and taking out his frustrations of not being loved in return or refusing to acknowledge his romantic feelings towards Miles and sublimating his desires by banging his women and later "killing them". Miles has been shown to be a commitphobe cad with the ladies and Monroe (shit gets real, he can't deal). His scene in the finale quickly lampshaded Nevile's on point observation in the preceding scene, by using the "brothers" line. I actually sighed in annoyance, well in addition to my always present annoyance with this show. To get past his already established apparent obliviousness to Monroe wanting the D and the ring, uh...do a flashback with Old man Matherson beating or preaching the gay out young Miles after catching him holding hands and sneaking puppy love kisses with little Monroe. It would explain why he's repressed after living and serving during the repeal of DADT and the world coming to an end. They can precede from there with either sinking or sailing the ship.

    Shite. I can't believe I wrote so much on this crap ass show. Insomnia, y'all.

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