Ah, Fall TV Upfronts.
That time of year when all the broadcast networks meet with advertisers and members of the press and trot out their new offerings for the program slate that we’ll see later this year. Will any of the new series coming be that breakout hit like last year’s “The Blacklist” at NBC or “Brooklyn 99” at Fox? Time will tell, that’s for sure.
At yesterday's presentations for Fox and NBC, I had my eyes peeled for what we'll see in terms of LGBT representation with the new series and, surprisingly, Fox looks to have more than the usual amounts of gay characters in their new series. Let's take a look at what Fox and NBC have to offer. (ABC, CBS, Turner, CW and the NBC Cable networks will be announcing throughout the rest of the week)
“Empire:” The hip hop world is explored through the eyes of Terrence Howard’s Luscious Lyon and his “Empire.” Faced with impending death, Lyon must find a predecessor to the world he’s built up and while he looks to his three sons, you’ll see in the below trailer that one of them (played by Jussie Smollett) is gay. The project was written by out director Lee Daniels (“The Butler“) and Danny Strong (“Game Change“) and is set for midseason on Fox.
“Wayward Pines:” The ominous title “Twin Peaks” seems to be coming up with this new twisty drama, created by out writer Chad Hodge (“The Playboy Club”) and Exec Produced by M. Night Shyamalan. In the pilot, Secret Service agent Ethan Burke (played by Matt Dillon) is searching for some missing agents when he’s in a car accident and wakes up in the town of Wayward Pines. It won’t take long before he realizes something is amiss in this town, which he may never be able to leave. The series also stars Carla Gugino, Toby Jones, Terrence Howard, Juliette Lewis, Tim Griffin and Melissa Leo.) The series launches midseason in 2015. Here’s the trailer:
“Backstrom:” While the series from “Bones” creator Hart Hanson, has Rainn Wilson as the disgruntled lead character who also happens to be a brilliant Special Crime Units detective in Portland, the second lead is Detective Nicole Gravely (Genevieve Angelson) who was a lesbian in an early draft of the series (when Mamie Gummer played her; she was later replaced) and then, as I reported for AfterEllen.com earlier this year, her sexuality has become a little less defined. Hanson said she is not a lesbian but she’s also not heterosexual so it will be interesting to see where things fall in the new series. From the trailer, her sexuality doesn’t seem to come into play at all. See for yourself:
If these new series follow the lead of Fox’s breakout comedy,“Brooklyn 99,” then they’ll know that just because you have a gay character (like Andre Braugher’s Captain Holt), his sexuality does not have to be the thing that defines him. While Holt’s sexuality and marriage came up throughout the season, it was always treated as organically as the personal lives of the other characters on the show. Bravo, series creators Dan Goor and Michael Schuur.
The gayest show on the eye network might be “Hollywood Game Night” with openly gay host Jane Lynch but the network that struggled to make Sean Hayes “Sean Saves The World” a hit isn’t done trying. While there isn’t a gay-centric series on their slate for the fall, one series, “The Mysteries of Laura,” has a gay pedigree all over it. Debra Messing, last seen on the ill-fated “Smash,” stars as a homicide detective who may have her work life in order but has a chaotic family life. With “Will & Grace” also a big part of Messing’s past and the fact that “Laura” was created by out super-producer Greg Berlanti, don’t be surprised if some gay doesn’t creep into this show.
Check back later this week for updates on what the other networks unveil this week.
The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.
Got a comment for the LGBT site? Tweet @JimHalterman with your question.