What is the point of gay characters in daytime?

There are signs of progress and regression in daytime regarding sexuality . Writers have shifted from introducing gay characters and then writing them off shortly after, to keeping gay characters onscreen longer and developing storylines around them.

AMC’s Michael Delaney and Devon McFadden, ATWT’s Hank Elliot, and OLTL’s Billy Douglas and Daniel Coulson have become AMC’s Bianca and Reese and ATWT’s Luke and Noah. Progress.

Regression is evident in the lack of commitment to gay couples. By keeping gay chararcters on longer writers appear to be confused about what to do next. Gay doesn’t even mean happy for such characters as writers have decided that all should be deeply tortured about their sexuality even when in loving relationships – adding a layer of psychological distress their straight counterparts don’t have to deal with. Others struggle in the midst of primarily unrealized relationships, where there’s love without loving touch, or romance without commitment.

I’d given AMC’s writers high praise for making the commitment ATWT’s writers seemed to be afraid to make. Then both storylines regressed to nearly the same point. Luke questioned Noah’s sexuality without cause to do so, Reese is now physically attracted to Zach.

Even the now defunct Passions, a show that arguably had the highest commitment to advancing relationships between its gay characters, wrote one of the partners as intersexed, living as a female at times. The other partner was happily married -while on the down low.

. While some daytime execs appear to be concerned about not catering to ‘agendas’, I have to wonder if they aren’t moving too far in the other direction. Do they run the risk of promoting the false beflief that sexuality (but only as it pertains to gays and lesbians) is flexible? ‘

If the point of creating the new class of gay characters is to celebrate diversity and provide an accurately reflective image of real life, take a big girl/ big boy pill and do it.

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4 thoughts on “What is the point of gay characters in daytime?

  1. Amen
    Word
    +1

    How else can I signify agreement.

    THAT SAID, I gather the fear is alienating the older, more conservative audience, and the advertisers.

    I’d say it was a nonsense fear, except I just had a conversation with a 65+ 30+ year fan of All My Children. Not unintelligent, she wrinkles her nose in abject disgust. It is not necessarily homophobia (though, of course, it is)…but a general generational discomfort (she claims) with having such things made public.

    I IN NO WAY claim she is right. In fact, she is wrong. But she exists. And she is not alone. And ABC is terrified of her, and so is P&G/CBS. Even though she’s really too old to be in their desirable demo, she’s still an eyeball, and they can’t afford to lose her.

    So, the quandary is this: Ignore the whole issue and pretend it is 1952? Or tell the tale within the commercial confines of daytime. (And leave verisimilitude for HBO?).

  2. I’m a straight woman at midlife and I feel sad that ABC/CBS and P&G believe there are more fans who will be disgusted by Bianca and Reese and Luke and Noah than there are fans like me. I wish I could ask the writers of both shows why they introduced these characters if they weren’t going to commit to them. Was it just to move the goal post a little further so that another writing team, down the line, could take gay/lesbian characters and couples even further?

    TPTB have taken the risk with AMC’s Erica’s abortion storyline, with interracial storylines, with so much more. I want them to have the moral courage to do these storylines justice and bring the audience along.

    I just feel sick for anyone watching the show waiting for the stereotyping to end and end up seeing even bigger stereotypes promoted (Reese isn’t a lesbian – she’s just ‘confused’, by the writers’ standards. So is Bianca who was in love with a woman – and of course that woman was really a man)

    I don’t know why TPTB continue to claim that they want those younger viewers but give them such staid and offensive storylines. I wrote a blog a while ago about the fact that younger viewers can see more involved gay and lesbian couple on DeGrassi The Next Generation. Shame on daytime.

  3. (quote)I’d given AMC’s writers high praise for making the commitment ATWT’s writers seemed to be afraid to make. Then both storylines regressed to nearly the same point. Luke questioned Noah’s sexuality without cause to do so, Reese is now physically attracted to Zach.(quote)

    I think AMC is worse in those situaions than ATWT. When Luke questioned Noah’s sexuality it was apparent he was being paranoid and insecure and had little reason to worry. Not so for Bianca. TPTB are not so subtly hinting at an attraction between Zach and Reese so that makes the situation much worse for me. Luke and Noah are a real gay couple while Bianca and Reese are not.

    Another problem with Reese and Bianca’s storyline is that even though he is a sperm donor AMC has gone out of their way to emphasize what a bond Zach has with Gabrielle. Zach’s relationship to Gabby has been glorifed while we have hardly seen Reese or even Bianca bonding with her. There is a message to the story that runs counter to the idea that a same-sex family is a legitimate form of family. AMC has done a terrible job with this story. Instead of moving forward they have come up with a story full of bad outdated stereotypes and negative messages.

    People like the ones Mark H mentioned exist but if TPTB are going to do same-sex storylines than pandering to those people achieves nothing. They are only ever going to be won over by positive and/or progressive depictions of gay characters not negative, regressive depictions that re-affirm their worst beliefs.

  4. Thank you for bringing up the issue of same sex families. I hadn’t addressed the issue in the blog and should have. I think you’re absolutely right, it gives ‘comfort’ to viewers, possibly, who will worry how the child will survive with only ‘two mommies’ and no dad.

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