Monday, April 12, 2010

Gay Shows Must Go On

There is a guilty pleasure in watching Ru Paul's Drag Race. 

While I don't have fantasies of being a woman (and yes, to you naysayers who might throw me a "Don't diss it until you try it" line, I have dressed in drag for the fun of it for my best friend's birthday, as well as for theater.) I do admire the contestants in the show for being fierce, creative and very proud of who they are.

Season one was fun, with comparisons to Project Runway and America's Next Top Model constantly visible.  I tried to enjoy the show more as its own thing, but I couldn't help but feel they were just taking from the two and calling it something new.

Season two, however, found more of its own voice.  The challenges were very entertaining, drawing inspiration from old movies, grand divas and real issues which affect gay men.  

Lipsynching for your life, which is how the show finally challenges contestants who are leaving, is a fun and creative touch which I feel could have been better utilized in the show if they were to have less cuts away from the contestants and more screen time to show how they present themselves.

Then there is the Big Gay Sketch Show which I love watching for its campy fun and its hilarious skits.  While Saturday Night Live used to rule as the funniest show on the tube (with Whose Line Is It, Anyway? on a close second), SNL has progressively been getting more and more boring with nonsense skits such as "What's Up With That?".   The Big Gay Sketch Show has funny recurring characters and concepts with the young boy Fitzwilliam  winning my heart.  Fitzwilliam is a young transgendered boy desperately seeking to find a way to have what he always wanted in life: a vagina.  Amusingly, the role is played by Kate McKinnon, a woman, who carries the role so well it just works!  Other recurring characters are Svetlana, an ex-KGB agent and chorus dancer, Naldo the package guy, Maya Angelou who reads sexually explicit Craigslist postings and many others.

Other than these two shows, I don't really know of any other gay shows that I do like watching.  I have never been into the supposedly best gayest show, Queer as Folk.  I never got interested in  Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.  I don't think I'm interested in Dante's Cove.  I, however, must confess I am anxious to catch up on Will and Grace.

Ultimately, I wish more gay oriented shows come out, with less focus on sex and more on being gay.   The ongoing series Modern Family has a gay couple who have adopted a child and has wonderfully touched on gay topics and issues (and interestingly enough, presented them in a revealing way that shows they aren't issues only gay men face) without having to fall back on the idea that gay has to always equal wanting to grab someone's ass.  Other shows like Flash Foward and Caprica have been showing non-stereotypical gay characters as well.  But sadly such shows aren't exactly gay shows are they?

Local films and television seem to still be hung up in the idea that gay has to equal effeminate.  A gay character, in local productions, has to have a twangy voice, an interest in cross dressing (or at least having overly exaggerated hand motions) and find every hot man irresistible.)  Local productions push the idea that all gay men have to be sex-craving man eaters.  THAT image I can have much less of.

Or am I getting myself too hung up on the idea that a gay show has to be a show that caters 90% of the time to a gay audience alone?   Does this mean I view all OTHER shows to be straight shows?  Is it a question of whether or not the cast is predominantly heterosexual or not?  Or is it just a question of whether or not the show has a non-straight lead character?

Hmm... now that I'm thinking about it, what about Torchwood?


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