TV’s hits and misses in LGBTQ representation
The struggle for LGBTQ representation on TV has been a long one, spanning almost four decades. Today’s programs have made great strides, but we are by no means perfect. Some TV shows do a great job, some fall short, while some just bypass the community altogether. Here are the best and worst representations of the LGBTQ community on current TV.
The Worst: Kurt Hummel from FOX’s Glee
Let me start by saying that I love Glee. I’m a total Gleek. Sometimes I burst into song hoping the show will become my life. But the way that Kurt is represented is just horrendous. I understand they are trying to speak to the thousands of LGBTQ youth struggling with their own identities, but Kurt is so one dimensional he does more harm than good.
Kurt-central storylines are always about him being the gay kid. Never does he struggle with academics or his mother’s death; he is an outcast because he’s gay, bullied because he’s gay, transfers schools because he was harassed about being gay, gets turned down for a role because he’s gay—notice a trend here? Even when Kurt was given the opportunity to represent himself as more than that, he chose to go with pink posters covered in rainbows and unicorns because that’s “who he is.”All he is, is the flamboyant gay kid, not the intelligent, sensitive, funny and talented young man we get a few glimpses of here and there in other peoples’ storylines. Kurt teaches young LGBTQers that their identity revolves around their sexuality. They’re no longer the baseball player who happens to be gay, they’re the gay baseball player; no longer the ballerina who happens to like boys and girls, they’re the bisexual ballerina. Kurt should be preaching that sexuality is only one small facet of someone’s identity, not the deﬁning feature.
Runner up: Jack from Will and Grace
The Best: Mitch and Cam from ABC’s Modern Family
One unit of this hilarious family, Mitch and Cam represent a cohesive family unit struggling with issues that face heterosexual and homosexual couples alike. They’re not just the gay couple (although those stories do present themselves), they’re the couple with a new baby, learning to be parents, adjusting to going back to work. They look for babysitters, deal with in-laws and have stresses at work—all story lines that apply to a vast audience.
That’s not to say that they glaze over their sexualities altogether; Cam’s flamboyant attitude and manner of dress is the butt of many jokes, but it is not the central focus. Their gay-centric stories are handled with grace and rationality and never make a scene. When Mitch is confronted by his dad’s insecurity, they speak like adults and the issue is resolved in a touching and brief scene. Cam and Mitch represent a caring family, showing the viewers that just because they are a gay couple, does not mean they represent a threat in any way to the American family.
Runner up: Lloyd from Entourage