Why Aren't There More Gay Characters on Network TV?

Hey TV, where all your gays at? A recent GLAAD study showed that only 3% of characters on the Big Five networks' shows are GLBT. Even worse, out of CBS's 132 series regulars, exactly zero of them fall into any of those categories. In 2009, that is pretty bad. I mean Fox--which is owned by a crazed, right-wing Aussie bandicoot--at least has four lonely gay folks running around on their shows (for a whopping total of 4% of their series regulars). So what gives? Why is it so hard to put queerness on broadcast television?

This is not going to launch into some didactic screed about this country's history of homophobia and the miles and miles we've still left to go before all citizens receive equal treatment and equal rights. I promise it won't. I'm really asking a sincere question. What is so hard about putting gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered characters on a network show? It's 2009 for god's sake, gay marriage is legal in, well, only six states, but still! Progress only ever moves forward, whether people like it or not. So a new America is inevitably emerging. One in which gay folks are just like everybody else. So couldn't television--which has pushed the culture envelope before--be a little ahead of the curve here?

Of course there are certain shows--The Office, Grey's Anatomy, Brothers & Sisters--that are already telling stories about gay characters with depth and nuance (not just faaaabulous or butch), but it's a really small handful. And that one major network--the biggest broadcast network at that--could carry on these days without having one queer series regular (not even one who's totally othered or stereotyped to the hilt), just feels so... disheartening.

I've no doubt that CBS will get at least a couple gay peeps on the airwaves eventually while the other networks will add more to their rosters. But why they can't just push the whole change thing through a little bit faster is what I don't understand. Popular culture and all widely-devoured media often can and do set the tone for acceptance and openness and all that other good, humanity-affirming stuff for the rest of the country. That CBS would just not bother to pay attention to that is frustrating. And, you know, gay kids need role models and swoony love stories (and all the other fun stuff you get on television) same as straight kids do. TV is a huge part of the national conversation. Why one of its biggest suppliers would just up and wholesale forget about an entire portion of the population is beyond me.

I'm not going to try and speculate as to what the reasons may be for the Eye's big gay blackout, but I can promise that everyone will feel better when it opens its doors to some gay folks. Because you're presenting a more shaded--and thus more realistic--world when you just come out and calmly state the beautiful truth: Some people are like this, others are like that, but who cares, they're all still people. People who can solve crimes or NC some IS things in Los Angeles or expound on theories about the big bang (they could totally make Jim Parsons' character gay without missing a beat) or whatever it is that people on CBS shows are doing these days. Let's hope they get on the ball about this genuinely important issue. 'Cause this situation right now? It's more than a little troubling.

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As a fan of the recently departed CNN News program Lou Dobbs Tonight, I'll call myself old-fashioned, that is one that has been raised on centuries-old Christian family values (no sex before marriage, no doing drugs, no embracing the homosexual lifestyle, etc., etc.,) It may sound boring to the gung-ho advocates screaming for equal rights for the GLBT demographic, but to a God fearing individual like myself, living the Christian lifestyle is a preety cool thing. In response to the writer's question, I'll say two words, "good riddance." One might also consider reading former U.S. Vice President Dan Quayle's 1992 speech on the concept of family values. In closing, to me marriage in itself is in-between a heterosexual man & a heterosexual woman.
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drbellows said: "I'm GLAD there's a lack of gays on TV. It's WRONG WRONG WRONG! If I see a show with a bunch of gays, I change the channel and boycott the sponsors." Then I guess you don't buy a lot of stuff. Since we are on the topic of money and buying and sponsors, drbellows, do you realize that the Spending power of gay Americans reached over $608 billion in 2007, representing a cumulative growth of 35%? That's 2 years ago. As of 2008 that figure was $701 billion dollars. So, your boycott will mean little because if it's one thing, especially this gay man, likes to do is shop.
Scott-
Source for spending figures: Witeck-Combs
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To playmkr278: Are you serious?!? You say characters "make out too much"?? No way. Heteros are shown doing everything imaginable, but it is a "huge & controversial event" just to show two gay people (especially men) even kiss! What universe are you living in?!
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Maybe GLAAD and any other whiners will shut up after last week's shows. Here we go:

1) The Psychiatrist character (played by B.D. Wong) mentions he's gay as if everyone knows it (I didn't) on Law & Order SVU. Of course, he's offended that the perp compares adult/child love rights to homosexual rights. Hmmm.... I wonder why he would make that association? 2) Clair's college roommate on Heroes has a crush on Clair and gave her a smack on the lips last week. The roommate is proud of who she is and now Clair isn't sure about her own sexuality. She's considering a gay relationship with her -- and now we have the "I don't fit in" comparison for mutants and gay people.

3) On Flash Forward the FBI chick who sees herself as pregnant in her flash forward turns out to be gay meets another lesbian. They make out (a LOT) and spend the night with each other on their first date. (Great lifestyle example there). On this show the FBI is depicted as being against the gay lifestyle (she keeps it a secret so she can get promoted).

4) On the premier of Blue Collar we learn that the FBI dude's assistant is a gay woman and out of reach for the new bad/good guy. We see her loosely flirting some TSA chick at that airport. In this show the FBI has a "We don't ask, we don't care" policy about gays. The complete opposite of Flash Forward shows that writers don't care about actual facts (does the FBI have a homosexual policy?) but would rather just work in a gay angle any way they can.

So, is that good enough for you complainers? Four shows I really like have subplots that have nothing to do with my lifestyle or anyone I know. They are in there just for the loud 2% crowd that whines about not getting recognized enough. I think just this one last week's worth of programming shows that you're getting more than enough attention. So maybe you can give it a rest for a while.
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I'm all for making divorce illegal, . . only God should be able to split a couple, in halves, quarters, etc.
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There are more than enough already.
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Let's just make all marriage legal (gay/straight, brother and sister)...we need more tolerance!!!
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This sounds about right...after all, it reflects the percentage of gays in America (2-3%). Why not just focus on characters, instead of Gay or "Straight" characters?
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I am so happy with these percentages. I don't mind gay relationships on a series (if it makes sense). What I do not like, in echoing scotschattan, is having the gay agenda shoved down our throats (no pun intended).

Also, why do gay characters have to makeout so much? And I'm not saying because there gay because I get annoyed when there are the same scenes with straight couples.

I enjoy a serie(s) with substance not just sex.
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people get tired of a parade of pressure groups "selling the story for a pot of message" they blacks are not 35% of the population but it appears this is the case on T.V. mostly judges, police chiefs, and clever,mouthy females etc. the bad guys are nazis, k.k.k. or skinheads not arabs, blacks even "normal white folks". HOW MUCH PREACHING CAN YOU WEDGE IN? Writing is the week link in T.V. probable because some non-writer says let's make this dude a black, a gay or female. You are hastening the demise of television viewing or are you to stupid it understand?
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I pity you.
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LOL, God doesn't write books, bonehead. Never did. Get over using a book written by humans about talking snakes and men living inside whales and that supports women being slaves to men or a number of things we laugh at today as your "source". Ancient Greeks (who gave us democracy, sports, theater, philosophy, science, medicine, and a lot more) wrote and believed in their Gods and complex beliefs long before the Bible and had myths that sound exactly like the Bible stories so maybe THEY had it right? And to "spoilit4me" and others who "believe the gay lifestyle is wrong" or "don't agree with it": I am more okay with you saying you hate gay people or black people or Jews or women or whatever it is that makes you feel bigger. But to say gay people or black people or Jews or anything else you are born with is something you don't "agree with" is even more ignorant and doesn't even make sense. Oh well, stupid people are entertaining at least, if you need a good laugh! ; )
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Table nine, why are we hate filled just for having morality? Why are we ignorant just because we disagree with you? Sounds like you're the hateful and ignorant one. By the way, I WISH I lived in a red state!
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Just wanted to defend CBS here, I'm from Australia and even I know that CBS is the only American network to be showing an ongoing gay relationship on daytime TV. As The World Turns has featured a gay couple for the past two years and CBS was the first network to show a gay kiss and then post gay love on daytime TV. Change takes time, but give credit where credit's due, CBS is definitely doing its part.
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Wow, sometimes I forget how hate-filled and ignorant people are in the red states.
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Tell God that at the judgement, see what He says.
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Lol DVCorvis...nice!
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drbellows your fault is that you keep on trying to quote The Bible post KJV...And actually as a matter of fact I do have copies of Leviticus from the Greek Septuagint LXX, the Hebrew Latinized ed and where they went wrong with the translation the KJV



"We-et-zakar lo' tishkav mishkevey 'ishshah" Hebrew Leviticus 18:22 mentions a male with another male and a woman; What it actually is forbidden is a Male/Male/Female 3-way. The reason had every thing to do with maintaining linage



Likewise "Kai hos an koimEthE meta arsenos koitEn gunaikos, bdelugma epoiEsan amphoteroi; thanatousthwsan, enoichoi eisin." [Lev 20:13 in Greek Septuagint LXX]. The translation of the Greek term 'gunaikos' is wife so the verse actually forbids male-male adultery and pertains only to a married man.
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I think there are already too many homosexual characters on tv. Three percent is pretty much in line with society in general despite what the activist groups will try to tell you.
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DV Corvis - - - Man shall not lie with man as he does with woman, this is an abomination to God! That's from the Old Testament. Don't screw with the word of God. And, personally, I doubt you know ancient Greek or Hebrew, I have studied them both, don't try to correct me.
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I posted this once before, apparently the Word of God offends gays, so here it is again....Romans 1:26 For this reason God gave them over to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged the natural sexual relations for unnatural ones, 1:27 and likewise the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed in their passions for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in themselves the due penalty for their error. 1:28 And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what should not be done.
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Neil Patrick Haris has shown himself to be a fantasatic showman as he MC'd the Emmys and the Tonys.

Then he portrays a hyper sexed misogynous neandrathal hetrosexual on "How I met your mother.

It's truly disgusting to watch this show and this character. He is NOT a funny character (and neither is anyone else on the show.)

It is really too bad that he couldn't portray an intelligent gay man.

I and other women really feel that gay men are more highly evolved than your basic football, beer-nuts heterosexual male anyway.



And to spoilit4me...I'll bet you consider yourself a patriotic, fundamental Christian.

No wonder religion is on the downturn in America. There may be many people who dislike you intensely, but don't write such a sweeping, damning generalization behind a screen name. Put up your real name and home town...but it's too easy to hide and blast other people with your small mind.
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I don't watch shows with gay characters because I believe the gay lifestyle is wrong. Thank you drbellows and synchroman!
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Is Everyone forgetting about south of nowhere
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Read the Original Greek Drbellows para physin DOES NOT MEAN unnatual and the verse was actually refering to religious sex-rituals NOT Homosexuals
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Man, SWLinPHX, you sure are.... loud. Sounds like you have a cause. I don't know where you get your data, but I get mine from the US Census Bureau. 1 out of 10 people are gay I don't think so. And why is it that people who don't like gay material are always labeled as "ignorant" or "stupid." Really? I'm an educated person with a professional career in media. I don't hate gays. I just think that this argument of not having enough gays on TV is not warranted. There aren't enough Hispanics on TV, and they are becoming the majority minority. There aren't enough deaf people -- or blind people -- or any type of physically disabled people on TV. There are a lot of groups that grossly outnumber homosexuals (even with your stats) that aren't represented well on TV. Get some perspective, man! Good luck on your quest.
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I thought there was far too much gay representation on TV networks. Has thee ever been a Jew portrayed as a gangster, murderer, thief or crazed child molester. Now theres a bias that needs correcting not the balance of homos.
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I wasn't going to post a second time, but I just read this comment in reference to Will & Grace: "good writers..." If Will & Grace is to be held up as an example of "good writing" in the homosexual arena - with that weak guy with the sissy voice, the lame queer jokes, the string of meaningless relationships... while those who SUPPORT their cause portray them this way, then is it any wonder homosexuals are considered a joke by the majority. They are in fact, their own worst enemies.
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I want no gays on tv, If you want to be gay thats fine do it at home, i dont want to see it.
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Round of pplause for this article.
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First, Glee has a Gay Second, why have Fetishists been completely ignored by the entire media? I'd like the author to give the name of one character on Television or the movies who is a Fetishist.
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LOL, let's have MORE gay characters if only to make idiots like drbellows cringe. How stupid these comments keep getting! .."a show with a bunch of gays"??? WTF (when has there been a show like that? And "2%" synchroman??? ...the gay population is probably way more than 10% (read my previous post). Oh, and I just love carolo43: "I would love to be able to watch one program without some gay person in it" - that's 95% of all TV shows out there in case you didn't notice. Good thing Hollywood and NYC is where almost all shows and movies are produced and they are the most gay enlightened & tolerant people, so maybe you guys should find a city for yourselves to start some far right-wing entertainment industry of your own, LOL. Ignorant people just love to stand up and scream, "Look at me, I'm ignorant!" They keep standing out more and more as decent American are educated and move into the 21st Century, just the same as racists now stand out more and more after the Civil Rights Movement.
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I'm GLAD there's a lack of gays on tv. It's WRONG WRONG WRONG! If I see a show with a bunch of gays, I change the channel and boycott the sponsors.
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Considering that the gay population is less than 2% in America, I don't see the big deal. There aren't a lot gays, so why is it so important to have them featured on TV? Gays are just louder and cry foul to just about anything.... and now TV.
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I saw this and thought to comment...That isn't it sad that we supposedly live if a freest of the free countries but we have to go over seas to see more progressive frank honest non stereotypical portrayal of GLBT characters



And Isnt sad that American Television has only follows established tropes for portraying GLBT characters: That we are either invisible or we are tragic, villains, victims, or comic relief...and never just are



So while I would welcome the introduction of more characters that are 'just like everybody else' to me I think this is actually code talk for gay but invisible'



We dare not show two men kissing because that would be sick some...meanwhile the cop show on next channel the antagonist just gunned someone down and that is somehow more favorable? SaveScifi & troydlane the number you are looking for is 10% so at least 3 times the amount currently seen on Television



Actually ctsvo2000 god is capitalizes only when referring to a specific god therefore completely appropriate to spell it with a lower case g
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Strange. I would love to be able to watch one program without some gay person in it. I'm not against gays but against how they portray themselves with their lisping, flipping their wrists and acting more female than females. But, I am also discouraged with all the teen girl programs rubbing against each other and kissing constantly and trying to ACT gay
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Well said. Television is the central part of most homes now and you seem to have to be specifically looking for one to get a GLBT show (not easilly available either), rather than, say if your looking for a medical drama.
By restricting television, in particular to young adults, is only going to continue to breed another generation of homophobes. I think the real question should be why is there nothing tastefull for young adults?
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add a comment Obviously, mainstream America doesn't feel deprived of the missing gay component. No lost sleep here either. We don't tally heterosexuals in programming to fill a quota, why count gays?

FYI to the author,,,,if you won't capitalize "God" out of respect for the All Mighty, then do it on behalf of your journalistic credo---it's proper grammar! Signed, overseer of all that's good in programming.
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If you take into account every single person who is bi, gay bi-curious, as well as all those who are either completely open about it, partially open or completely closeted, you will find there are a LOT more in this culture than you could ever imagine. Unfortunately, if you are straight or have no gay friends you will never know because no one who people assume is straight (or is secretly sneaking around) will ever confide in you. Gay people or those with gay friends who are informed are the only ones who know how surprisingly same-sex oriented or interested people are. As long as there are people who make hateful comments and judgements like some of these here, they will just stay undercover and you will never know. The huge majority of gay or bi people look and act completely "normal" and are already among your friends, professionals, co-workers and even extended family. If it ever becomes okay for people to be what they are naturally born, many bigots will be BLOWN AWAY at the numbers out there. Until then, only the stereotypical or flamboyant ones will stand out and the rest (the majority) will stay invisible.
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"So a new America is inevitably emerging. One in which gay folks are just like everybody else. So couldn't television--which has pushed the culture envelope before--be a little ahead of the curve here?"



Maybe that is the problem, if gays would be happy being just like everyone else and not make it the issue all of the time, folks would accept them and just leave them alone, but to have the "I am GAY made the entire storyline for that character? I could care not care less what someone's preference might be, just do not force me to have it matter. Millions of folks just want the issue to put in the background of stories and not become the only issue. My Faith teaches me that the gay lifestyle is not something for me to desire but I do not care what your choices are, that is your business. If a show only wants to push that lifestyle in its stories I simple do not waych the show. The ratings may take a hit and be cancelled, so why should networks want to run folks away putting Gayness in every story? The answer is they should not. If you love watching gay folks being gay fine watch it, and if a show can get enough audience the show will stay on the air , if not enough folks watch it goes away. The fact that only about 5 percent of America is Gay means they can not expect to dominate TV shows withy only what they are interested in. Maybe a cable for folks that are Gay would be something some braodcast company will look at. BET seems to work for Black folks that want a certain kind of programing (do not know what those shows are, I never watch the channel)and I am glad they have that choice.
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...and CONGRATULATIONS to siloam1 for winning the most ignorant comment!!! Can't tell which reflects his stupidity more, the content of his comment or the complete lack of punctuation using Second Grade grammar.
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Why must there HAVE to be gay characters on TV? Why does one race have to have at least one friend of ANOTHER race? Don't you guys get it? It's become a cynical joke amongst the TV-viewing audience, and that's why viewership is down amongst the networks. The WORST example of this this season? GLEE. Why look: it's one of every kind of stereotype in the Glee Club: a gay an Asian, a jock, a nerd, a handicapped kid...unwatchable.
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On "The Simpsons", when will Waylon Smithers come out and everyone will realize that Milhouse isn't gay
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a character or two in a show is ok I guess, but a whole cast of gay's should be on a specialty channel for those interested..I don't need to see two men making out or do my kids
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All you liberals scum bags can go screw yourself there is way too many gay people on tv just because they are everywhere in hollywood in lala land does mean everyone wants to see their ridiculous behavior on tv. gays are sexual perveted messed up in the head need help with whatever happened to them in the past how can u see breasts and not want them are just messed up in the head and a sexual pervision doesnt need to be celebrated on tv. should just celebrate every freaks sick sexual stuff like to animal freaks they people too but sick in the head like the gays wanna be un-natural or maybe they great people who like have sex with dead people their human too play like what they do is normal too does that sound great its all messed up crap in their heads sicken bull crap they all need help for it maybe you guys should get some morals and know all this stuff is sexual perveted and this people arent normal just because you liberals think everyone should except everyone crap as ok and no one ever wrong the radical muslims want to kill everyone you everyone to go talk to them and tell them to play nice liberals want to do anything want and not be told it wrong by anyone cause they just want to be moralless sinners and have everyone decide wants right and wrong for themselves except want to push their views of u got to except everyone one bad bahavior and immorall ways and not say that they are wrong for doing it. basically you dont like christianity and dont wanna be judged by the the 10 commandments or have anything to do with the teachings of Jesus christ just wanna push your sinful ways on all of america trying turn the whole into godless country like communist russia

well forget you no one is born gay the become that way for probably many different reasons if they wanted to be honest they could pin point them out the reasons when they happned maybe they had feeling they arent quite like the others jump to the conclusion they are gay they get swayed by the sin cause maybe they have little more femine traits and people call them gay so they stat acting it. maybe some sick sucker had sex with them growing up or molested them so many different scenarios but come down to they ultimately choose that lifestyle cause cause they have messwed up feelin running thru their heads even likes raptist do thay dont have act on them they could try get help but choose too cause they have a sickense. they should get rid of they gay crap on tv like before just because the producers are from hollywood or ny where there alot everything doesnt means they should put it on tv they are even allowing alot cursing now on tv too its bull crap
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Wow, it's scary how a discussion about the number of gay TV characters has to deteriorate into hateful and inflammatory comments by people who are uneducated, ignorant or pretentiously self-righteous. I am sad for America when I see the kind of people who exist and readily share their contempt and expose their stupdity on a public forum. On the other hand, I thank people like davo48, lewkut, et. al. for "outing" themselves as miserably nasty and completely ignorant. It would be nice if everyone would identify themselves right up front like that so we could know their mentality before we deal with them or give them any attention, LOL.
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You say that only 3-4% of the characters are gay Just curious, but what is the percentage of gays in society in general?
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In all fairness, CBS does have an actress who's gay but doesn't play a gay part, on "The New Adventures of Old Christine." While I agree in the principal idea of "universal representation" on TV, wouldn't it seem like pandering to a special interest group if you create gay characters just for the sake of creating gay characters? "Will & Grace" was created by two writers: one who was gay and one who was straight. Ironically, the straight writer supposed wrote for the gay characters and the gay writer wrote for the straight ones but they bounced ideas off of each other before the script was completed. Perhaps the real reason for the absence of solid gay characters on TV is due to the absence of good writers, straight and gay who can go beyond The Stereotypical Drama Queen Joke or at least address it intelligently. Until The Thanksgiving TV Massacre eliminates the turkey shows, I guess I'll stay tuned to see what replaces them in January.
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I used to think that every now and then a person came along that had the opposite set of genes making them more feminine or masculin.That's not the case. They are sashaying out of the closet by the thousands.They chose that life style.It's sick.Sally Field is one of my favorite actresses so my wife and I watched Brothers and Sisters for awhile.Then right on the big screen, two homos kissing right on the lips.I almost barfed.We haven't watched the show since.How one male can enjoy having sex with another male is beyond belief when sex between a male and female is so much more enjoyable.GET COUNCILING!
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The reason CBS has the most hit shows, is they aren't full of gays. I quit watching any show that goes out of there way to popularize gays. Nurse Jackie would be a really good show, if they didn't spend half of the show concentrating on just how flamboyant gay people are supposed to act. Brothers & Sisters is getting pretty sickening also. And I barely made it through the new Al Bundy show, I watched the pilot and I definitely won't watch another one. The gay people I know fit in with everybody, so why make fun of them on a tv show?
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