We often hear that with critically acclaimed shows like “Game Of Thrones,” “The Walking Dead,” and “The Good Wife” that we’re in a ‘Golden Age Of Television.’ I’d like to correct that (or add to it) by saying we’re also in an “LGBT Age Of Television.”
While we once had a smattering of gay characters and stories on our televisions, times have changed and looking at the new series coming this fall, a plethora of them feature gay, lesbian, bi and trans characters. That not only makes my job more exciting but on a bigger scale it shows a sign of the times as our culture is becoming more and more inclusive and accepting of LGBT people.
Let’s go through the LGBT characters we’ll be meeting in this season’s new offerings of television.
“Mulaney:” One trend I love that we’re seeing more of is the older LGBT person. In this sitcom, built around a fictionalized version of stand-up comic John Mulaney‘s life (yes, it’s hard not to think of “Seinfeld” initially), the character’s next door neighbor is an older gay man played by veteran actor Elliott Gould. (He was once married to Barbra Streisand in real life so he was already a step away from the gays anyway, right?). We’ll have to wait to see if Gould’s Oscar will have much of a romantic life but so far what I’ve seen he’s very good at handing out advice to Mulaney. My two cents: The show itself took awhile to grow on me and Gould is always good so I’m keeping the faith this could shape into a worthy sitcom. So far, it needs a little more time to gel. (“Mulaney” premieres October 5th on Fox)
“Red Band Society:” The new Fox drama focuses on teenagers in the pediatric ward of a hospital and while it could have been clouded with a dour, depressing tone, it’s quite the opposite with a good selection of young actors playing the teens and Academy Award-winner Octavia Spencer at the center as sassy-but-full-of-heart Nurse Jackson. But where is our gay character? Leave that to Wilson Cruz, who plays Kenji, a nurse at the hospital who we’ll find has a long past with Nurse Jackson. My two cents: The series is created by Margaret Nagle, who told me we’ll be meeting other gay characters in the first season. Overall, the pilot was very likable, Spencer is amazing in her glaring looks alone and the producers have already said time will be condensed in the series so it won’t seem like these kids are in the hospital for years and years but I’m curious to see how the life and death stakes play out as we move forward. (“Red Band Society” premieres September 17th on Fox)
“Survivor’s Remorse:” One thing I noticed is that while there are a lot of gay guys on our new fall shows, there aren’t as many lesbians. What’s up with that? But it’s not a total loss because having watched the first episode of the upcoming Starz series set in the world of pro basketball (and executive produced by Kobe Bryant), the awesome Erica Ash plays M-Chuck, the sister to main character Cam Calloway (Jessie Usher), who is dealing with sky-rocketing fame and a point where everybody wants a piece of him, and not always with the best intentions. M-Chuck is unapologetically gay and goes for what she wants and isn’t ashamed of who she is. And Ash is a star in the making. LOVE. HER. My two cents: Give me more of this refreshing take on fame and celebrity now…and more of sexier-than-hell RonReaco Lee, who plays Cam’s best friend, Reggie. Nah, the character isn’t gay but still very crushable! (“Survivor’s Remorse” premieres October 4th on Starz)
“How To Get Away With Murder:” I’ll just start with my two cents: I’m in. The series, created by out writer Pete Nowalk (who comes from the Shonda Rhimes camp of “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Scandal“) might be set in a prestigious law school setting but the set up in the pilot is juicy! And like any good pilot, by the end of the first hour, we have an idea not only of what this show is but who all our characters are, especially Viola Davis’s lawyer/professor Annalise Keating, who is not above being embroiled in the drama at hand. Recently on this site, I featured an interview with Jack Falahee, who plays the gay student, Connor Walsh, and while I haven’t seen beyond the pilot, his was one of my favorite characters thus far. I’m ready for this show now! (“How To Get Away With Murder” premieres September 25th on ABC).
“Kingdom:” Truth be told, the idea of a series about Mixed Martial Arts fighters was interesting to me only in seeing the guys (Frank Grillo, Nick Jonas, Matt Lauria) get in great shape and fight with their shirts off. Yes, call me shallow! But it sounds like that’s what we’ll be getting at least on the surface since earlier this week the web was abuzz with news that Jonas will be naked and, as he told Andy Cohen this week on “Watch What Happens Live” there could also be some sexuality-based stories with his character. Yes, I’m suddenly a tad more interested. My two cents: I’ll report back once I’ve watched the first handful of episodes that DirecTV has sent over. But a possibly bi-sexual Nick Jonas? Yes, please! (“Kingdom” premieres October 8th on DirecTV)
“The Flash:” While at the offset of this engaging new series (and spin-off of the darker/more brooding “Arrow“) there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of LGBT-ness, out executive producer Greg Berlanti told me recently, as reported on this site, that he hopes to bring gay comic book villain Pied Piper into the show during the first 12-13 episodes. In the first episode, we do, in fact, meet Captain Singh (played by Patrick Sabongui) and while sexuality doesn’t come up initially, in the comic books, Singh was in a relationship with the Pied Piper so I’m staying tuned for that, among other things. My two cents: When people have asked me my favorite new shows this season, “The Flash” is the first one that comes to mind. Solid, great balance of drama, humor and adventure, the entire cast is engaging and solid and star Grant Gustin (who you’ll remember played gay on “Glee” a few seasons back) is fantastic. Bring it!
“Jane The Virgin:” Another bright spot on the CW schedule is this story of a teen girl (yes, she’s a virgin) who ends up pregnant. You have to watch the pilot to know exactly how it happens but star Gina Rodriguez is beyond winning in the title role of Jane, who finds out she’s going to be a mother at the same time the father she never knew (a huge telenovela star played by Jaime Camil) unexpectedly shows up. To complicate things further, Jane has a fiance but also has a spark with who basically is her Baby Daddy (sexy Justin Baldoni). And, yes, there’s a gay character in the lesbian doctor of Jane’s as well as one of Jane’s friends, who, creator Jennie Snyder told me, we’ll meet in the second episode. My two cents: It’s easy to say that this show fills the “Ugly Betty” void but, well, it’s also not false. Heartfelt as much as it is madcap, Rodriguez is the glue that holds it altogether. I predict a healthy future for Jane! (“Jane The Virgin” premieres October 13th on the CW)
“Marry Me:” In case you missed yesterday’s post, I gave you five things we know about the gay dads on the new NBC sitcom. In the series, Casey Wilson and Ken Marino are Annie and Jake, a couple who have dated for six years and decide to take the plunge and get married. Annie, who tends to be a little on the theatrical side, happens to have been raised by two dads, played by Tim Meadows and Dan Bucatinsky, who also are both named Kevin. My two cents: The pilot is charming and fun and since it comes from “Happy Endings” creator David Caspe, expect some crazy antics. I also hear that more gay characters will come – possibly the lesbian who provided the egg from which Annie was created! And if we can get some of Wilson’s former “Happy Endings” co-stars to pop up, that would only make a good show ever better. (“Marry Me” premieres October 14th on NBC)
“The McCarthys:” The family sitcom is always a tried and true television staple but with this Boston-based working class family, much of the action centers around Ronny (Tyler Ritter), who happens to be openly gay. In the pilot episode, we see that the family is uber-supportive of Ronny being gay and the show has some fun with stereotypes as well as how the family often is a bit too enthusiastic about Ronny possibly finding love in his life. With parents played by Laurie Metcalfe and Jack McGee and Ronnie’s siblings played by Joey McIntyre, Jimmy Dunn and the scene-stealing Kelen Coleman, the cast is solid. My two cents: The pilot has the right amount of warmth and comedy and we already know Metcalfe (who is also starring on HBO’s “Getting On“) can do anything. Creator Brian Gallivan told me Ronny will have a romantic life so I’m curious to see how that develops but I like what I see so far. (“The McCarthys” premieres October 30th on CBS.)
“Transparent:” And while we have a lot of gay men, a few lesbians, we do have a transgender character in one new show coming soon on Amazon Prime. In the Jill Soloway-created series, Jeffrey Tambor (“Arrested Development”) plays a man who, late in life, realizes it’s time to accept the woman he really is and he starts the transitioning process from man to woman. (All 10 episodes of the new series will be available September 26th on Amazon Prime).
Finally, one new show that won’t have an LGBT presence is NBC’s “Constantine.” Knowing the character in the comics was established as bisexual, creator/executive producer Daniel Cerone said to my question during the show’s TCA panel this summer that a bisexual Constantine will not be a part of the show unless, perhaps, the show lasts 20 years. I always respect the creative vision of a series creator but why shut the door on exploring that later in the series? At least then if ratings happen to lag, what better way to get the attention of audiences than a bisexual love interest or tryst?
Come back soon and I’ll have a listing of the LGBT characters showing up on your returning fall TV series.
The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.
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