Can There Be a Gay Series... that isn't Stereotypical?

With the recent theatrical release of Noah's Arc, which did surprisingly well even with a very limited release and relatively little if any promotion by Logo; and Clay Cane's recent post about the here! TV viewer's poll about DL Chronicles... my mind started wondering.... Can there be a gay series... that isn't stereotypical?

Queer As Folk
I recently started watching this series thanks to my Netflix subscription. After seeing the first two seasons I couldn't shake out of my head... why the white gay community didn't revolt about this series or did they and I just missed it?

The entire show portrayed white gay Pittsburgh as being sex fiends that enjoyed sex in back rooms of clubs and functioning drug addicts that need to snort something to dance to the techno beats of Babylon. While I am not denying this occurs, it is just interesting that it consumed the first two seasons. But I guess sex sales. I will say that in between the endless sexual escapades and the relationships of the five friends, the show does explore critical gay political and health issues such as HIV, gay bashing, and gay rights.

Noah's Arc
The short lived, and only reason I subscribed to Logo, series is definitely one that causes a lot of tension and bloguments (blog arguments). It seems if you are the least bit critical of this series you are hating and against feminine men. While I did subscribe to Logo for the two seasons just to see the show, I thought the series could use some serious production help.

The character's ranged from Ricky the sexaholic to Alex the loud mouth queen to Noah the naive twink. I couldn't relate to the characters on a personal level and thought the story lines were often rushed and far fetched but the show did what it was supposed to do... entertain. And along its very short tenure it did touch on some important gay issues such as HIV and gay parenting.

DL Chronicles
By far my favorite series and by far the shortest of them all. The stereotype here is evident from the series' name. But of the 4 episodes, only 2 of them actually deal with men cheating on women with other men. The other two episodes deal with gay men hiding from society and themselves. I am hoping that in the second season of this series the writers/directors Quincey and Deondray explore the DL lives of women.

This stigma of the DL life, thanks to JL King, has been used to scare straight women instead of enlightening them. Episode 1 - Wes and Episode 2 - Boo... don't combat those themes.

Will & Grace

By far one of the most popular shows to air on NBC and probably one of the few network shows when it premiered to have a gay lead character. The stereotype here is just Jack. The very flamboyant character definitely kept the laughs coming and also didn't let you forget that this series was about gay men living in NY and their two hags.

So after thinking of the four gay series that I have watched... I am left wondering if it is even possible to remove all stereotypes. And if all the stereotypes were removed... would the shows be as good? Does every show have to show a positive image of the community it is reflected? Or can these stereotypes bring necessary attention to causes and people... like the Wire did to Baltimore. Definitely no answers here today... just observations and questions.


J. Clarence said...

Well Queer As Folk will get slightly better, so if you keep watching it might be different.
As for whether or not a gay series must be stereotypical, I think much of it deals with the target audience and the fact that many executives know that many gay people will watch it regardless.

A great series that I think has moved away from stereotypes is the The L Word, and hopefully that kind of drama can make its way over to gay men.

And finally I think we run into the issue where "straight acting" becomes a stereotypical genre of gay media. It seems like a loose/loose situation.

Great blog btw.

WiseYoungMan said...

In general it seems that shows when it comes to minorities always go to the extreme in their characterizations. So I guess that's just the way producers, and advertisers feel its best to reach their target audiences.

Now onto gay black depictions in the media, I do feel its getting better. Meaning the characters are no longer just hairdressers, working in the fashion or entertainment industry of some sort, and there is a depiction of them less effiminate which is more reflective of the larger gay black diaspora.

I do find it interesting that reality TV shows seem to have better depictions of blacks and gays in general. When you look at the out black reality tv personalities they tend to be more rounded, than traditional media.

The Blackout Blog said...

Stereotypes exist for a reason. There are actually a lot of sexaholics, naïve twinks, and loud-mouthed queens in gay communities (some would say everyone knows one). We see the same character exaggeration, sex, and drug use with rich white kids in Gossip Girl and Cruel Intentions.

Stereotypes are only dangerous when people make assumptions about individuals based on them. The stereotypes that we see help to make these shows unique (in comparison to more "mainstream" shows).

Great post, man.

Darius T. Williams said...

Nah - I really don't think there can be one that isn't stereotypical. It's only because what's being portrayed is what sells. People think gays act a certain way and so the images we see are of that "certain" way. And it's funny. I laugh like the rest of the world. In truth, gays do act like that...just not all the time. I'm not sure how interesting it would be to have a gay series that wasn't stereotypical...then it'd be like gay folks who fit into a normal society - that's probably not that marketable. I know...sounds strange - but that's the reality of it.

thegayte-keeper said...

I don't think it is possible...America and the world is comfortable with laughing @ the gay man instead of rooting for him to get the guy @ the end...

Q said...

Stereotypes are the only thing these execs know. We need some queens making decisions behind the scenes. All gays definitely aren't like Jack off 'Will and Grace'. I'm sure it will take a while for a more true representation will happen. We will have to wait and see.

Langston Baldwin said...

I think DL Chronicles has been the most relatable of them all. I am rooting for this series. They presented 4 diffferent yet identifiable experiences that gay black brothas are aware of or have been a particpant of such lifestyles.

WhitneyRaye said...

i recently rented DL Chronicles the complete 1st season not knowing what to expect. i was pleasantly surprised

houstonmacbro said...

It's funny ... I like several of those shows because they are different. I don't put a lot of faith in television other than to entertain me.

BTW, where is the DL Chronicles? Is that a LOGO production or was it only DVD? I never heard of it.

C. Baptiste-Williams said...

DL Chronicles was on here tv! but it is now out on dvd and netflix. you can get it for less than $20 and it is well worth it.

slimm215 said...

stereotypes exist because behind the stereotypes lies some part of truth. maybe not for each individual but usually as a whole group of people. I didn't get down with queer as folk and i haven't seen dl chronicles but Will and Grace and Noah's Arc were great shows for getting some messages out there to the public. So for that reason they did serve some purpose.

Anonymous said...

The "Noah's Arc: Jumping the Broom" movie was successful enough to open in five additional cities on 11-7-08.

the 3rd tWin said...

i dont know. just because i feel the mainstream entertainment industry only shows men that support the stereotypes. i know there are shows + films that have roles of gay men not being the flamboyant, stylish, sex-craved, boy loving guy, but i wish that there were more different roles on mainstream media.

very nice blog man.

Anonymous said...

Blacks are still struggling for non-stereotypical roles, so gays can either get in line (or stay right where they are if they're one of the many gays fighting on the black side).

As for the stereotypes, they're not going to change until gay people stand up and start representing the fact that gays do more than hair, fashion and Beyonce.

Just as blacks had to show that they were more than just thugs and baby mamas, gays have to start demanding that every other line in a script is miss honey.

Until middle America (the audience) is shown by gays that they are more than silly clothes and 1-liners, the execs will continue to give them all of the laughable buffoon stereotypes that continue to make them "those sill gays", as opposed to "those gays who are human, get up and go to work every morning, and want their rights just like us".


houstonmacbro said...

I liked the gay characters on Six Feet Under and also the gay brother and his lover on The Starter Wife. They are more ... normal.