Gay seems to be the new fascination for TV right now. Several highly rated shows like Will & Grace, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, Two and a Half Men feature gay characters. While many in the queer community have applauded the networks for airing these controversial shows in primetime TV, those many seem to have overlooked how these shows feed on gay stereotypes.
On Will & Grace, for example, Grace, the heterosexual woman has had many boyfriends and she eventually got married. Will, the gay man, has yet to have a serious relationship. Along the same line, the show has depicted numerous heterosexual sex scenes, yet it hasn’t even hinted at a visual reference to sex between two men. Jack, Will’s best friend, is the stereotypical gay man. He’s an actor, he loves Cher and he is very superficial about most things in his life. Where is the successful businessman in this who just happens to have a domestic partnership with another man? Where are the “bear,” butch gay men in this cast of expressive and flighty Jacks?
In shows depicting heterosexual lifestyles, the people watching can conclude whether or not the show is exaggerated or more accurate by comparing it to their own life or other heterosexual people they know. Since many people don’t know any out gay men or lesbians, we run the risk of being judged based upon the inaccurate projection of the media.
Queer Eye for the Straight Guy practically relies on stereotypes even to have a show. The perfectly sculpted “Fab Five” represent each major stereotype of gay men. Jai and Carson, for instance, embody The Lisp. Carson and Thom are The Limp Wrists. Carson also plays the part of The Witty Gay Man with his humorous criticisms of the style-challenged straight men. Ted cooks–a, you know, “feminine” role–so that automatically makes him gay in the uniformed hetero world. Kyan portrays The Makeup and Hair character, as you can’t be a straight male and also be clean. So to Hetero Jane (because Hetero Joe wouldn’t be caught dead watching a show with “queer” in the title) now thinks that all gay men talk with a lisp, loosely snap their wrists about, cook and use more hair care products than she does.
Two and a Half Men really doesn’t provide any rewarding gay material to watch. We are just presented with a man living with his brother because his wife came out as a lesbian. She now, as all good lesbians do, hates men. Many misinformed jokes are made at her expense, contributing absolutely nothing to the dispelling of the man-hating bull dyke image many people subscribe to.
It would not surprise me at all if one of the networks released a new series with a clever name like Gay for a Day. I’ll even pitch you the setup: Two heterosexual men and women receive special “gay-overs” on this (farthest thing from) reality show premiering on the queerest network on TV, Bravo. The four individuals will attempt to secure membership in the highly exclusive and sometimes dangerous Lavender Mafia. If the participants get past the bull dyke guarding the door, they must meet several other challenges proposed by the (drag) queen and king.
Each event the contestants must conquer will have introductory commentary explaining the significance of the proposed challenge. The Walk, for example, is absolutely essential for gay men to identify each other from a distance, practical uses being drive-by pick-ups (and I don’t mean the trucks). Male contestants must master that perfect swish of the hips to be crowned victorious. Female contestants will work on just the opposite–prying the feminine swagger from their pelvic hinges–crafting the perfect blend of lumbering ape and agile mongoose. Of course, at the completion of each event, participants will be adorned with rainbow colored lei’s, so they can get… oh never mind.