LGBT TV Special
Cate Simpson takes a look at the current state
Televised gay kisses may have come a long way since Beth Jordache on Brookside but mainstream programming still lacks fair representation (for the supposed 10% of us) with only the occasional out and proud offering, mainly The L Word and Queer as Folk. In the US there are now a few gay-oriented TV channels – like here! and Logo – while Prowler TV in the UK seems to provide nothing more than men in (and out of) pants. Luckily, the geography-spanning power of the internet means their spoils are available on our virtual shores.
‘Loving life, hating girls, they’re the happiest gay couple in all the world!’ concludes the theme song for Rick & Steve: The Happiest Gay Couple in All the World. This stop–motion cartoon is a bizarre cross between Bob the Builder visuals and Team America: World Police crassness that aired a first series on Logo in 2007 and is now available online and on DVD (www.happiestgaycouple.com). The show, which was created by Q Allan Brocka, the writer of gay rom-com Eating Out, and which features the voices of our own mischievous king of camp, Alan Cumming, and seasoned gay actor Wilson Cruz, manages to cram in almost every gay stereotype and play them for laughs. In spite of this, it’s hard not to chuckle at the outright silliness of the Playmobil–like characters’ misadventures.
At the opposite end of the production values spectrum lies the low budget, enthusiasm and sticky-tape Aussie charms of Buck House. Touting itself as the world’s first gay and lesbian sitcom (think Priscilla Queen of the Desert meets Sons and Daughters) it features a cast of amateur actors whose characters are presided over by a pair of talking paintings depicting two deceased elderly lesbians, while they comically struggle with coming out, making babies and all the usual gay conundrums. A prime example of the democratic principle of the internet and DIY programming, episodes are only available online (www.buckhouse.tv).
Low production costs mean that smaller audiences can be catered to, like the LGB&T ones. But what guides the artistic content when all that is known about the intended audience is whom they wish to sleep with? Successful mainstream shows like Will & Grace and Queer Eye for the Straight Guy have prevailed by camping it up to meet traditional expectations about what makes gay men fun to watch, which leads to accusations of internalised homophobia. However, news of China’s first gay talk show Tongxing Xinglian, with an interactive online forum, points to the positive uses for a global online community.