News | Playing Gay | Television

The Anti-Kurt Hummel?


Vanity Fair talks to Cameron Monaghan, who plays gay teen Ian Gallagher on Shameless, which premieres on Showtime this Sunday.

Antihummel So let’s talk about this role: Ian Gallagher. For the folks who haven’t seen eleven-hundred previews for the show, Ian is clearly meant to be a bit…incendiary, sort of the anti–Kurt Hummel.

He’s the anti-stereotype. He never does anything that’s stereotypically perceived as “gay”. He’s tough, he’s street smart, and he’s pretty much unlike any gay teenager on television right now.

That’s for sure! He smokes, he relishes porn, he’s in the R.O.T.C., and he’s having lots of sex—some of it with his married, Muslim boss. I think he’s great. But what did you think when you read the pilot?

When I first got the sides, it was definitely a little shocking seeing the content and the language. So at first I was like, What is this? It’s crazy! But it was really intriguing how no-holds-barred the situations and dialogue were. And I was so interested that I read the whole script, and I was hooked. I became a fan of the show before I was even cast.

Watch the trailer and behind-the-scenes for Shameless, AFTER THE JUMP...

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  1. Finally, a gay character who's not a queen.

    Posted by: joe | Jan 7, 2011 12:36:14 PM

  2. @Joe, exactly. I personally can not stand Kurt on Glee (mostly can't stand Glee as a whole anyway), and I'm looking forward to seeing an anti-stereotypical gay character who actually resembles a lot of gay people I know.

    Posted by: Austin | Jan 7, 2011 12:44:55 PM

  3. sad that kurt hummel is the only other gay youth character on tv, so by default he is the anti-hummel.

    Posted by: mld | Jan 7, 2011 12:54:06 PM

  4. @Joe & Austin - yeah, I'd much prefer seeing homosexuals portrayed as sociopathic thugs who mindlessly screw scores of guys and prey on married men. It's great - just as long as they don't act like queens!

    Posted by: PG | Jan 7, 2011 12:58:50 PM

  5. The correct name of the actor is Cameron Monaghan, not Brendan Monaghan.

    And I'm sure TV can support all kinds of characters as gay teens; they shouldn't be all one thing, any more than they are in real life.

    Posted by: WWNYC | Jan 7, 2011 1:01:16 PM

  6. The original British version already aired on Sundance channel in the U.S. Hope the "U.S. version" doesn't suck; the original is fantastically funny, and had great gay portrayals, IMO.

    Posted by: EchoMark | Jan 7, 2011 1:03:23 PM

  7. Ironically, the effect is the stereotypical anti-stereotype.

    Posted by: Jedd | Jan 7, 2011 1:04:08 PM

  8. I'm looking forward to seeing this, I like the U.K. version of Shameless (which is based on)!!!

    Posted by: pd | Jan 7, 2011 1:06:11 PM

  9. looks great

    the gay kid is a breath of fresh air as far as not being some queeny fashionista stereotype.

    Also, not sure if viewers are intended to get depressed over the character's living conditions or what. if I met a family in such a situation like them I'd be moved to call in social services to help them and AA for the dad.

    Posted by: | Jan 7, 2011 1:07:40 PM

  10. I've followed the original bbc version since season 5. The character of Ian in that series is about being gay in the slums and having to deal with a very harsh environment and still be able to be himself. You can youtube "shameless gay stories" and it follows the entire story of the BBC Ian from the beginning. I wonder if there are going to cast a "mickey" character. He's the other gay guy - comes from a crime family - acts more like a buffoon than anything else but he is endearing and adorable.

    Posted by: Aaron | Jan 7, 2011 1:09:23 PM

  11. After watching the purported trailer I was left with an urgent need to take a shower and compulsively clean everything in my house. The show looks that dirty.
    Ah, the gay character… he seems to be just an accident. Something wrong in the long list of all wrongs.

    Posted by: Lexxvs | Jan 7, 2011 1:14:22 PM

  12. @PG, I just don't think that all portrayals of gay teens need to be Kurt Hummel or Justin Suarez. I mean, I certainly have known and befriended a few gay guys throughout my life who fit into that mold, but I also knew quite a few sex-obsessed, chain-smoking, and (dare I say) aggressive gay teens as well.

    I don't think there can be a gay character on TV that appeases everyone. It's easier to be stereotypical than to challenge the notion that gay men are as different to each other as they are to straight men. And similar, for that matter. For certain, I know tons of people who love Kurt and think he's a great role model and "conversation piece." He just rubs me the wrong way for some reason. Maybe it's the whole Finn-stalking storyline. Or the maudlin way they portrayed his dad's heart attack. Who knows?

    Posted by: Austin | Jan 7, 2011 1:15:48 PM

  13. Why do people relish in having anti characters? Kurt isn't a negative portrayal, as far as the hyper-reality of Glee goes, he's pretty accurate to life actually. And who knows, maybe this Ian character will be genuine as well. But what exactly is the point in pitting these portrayals against each other?

    Raving about depictions that are anti-stereotype, for me, just seem to come off as anti-gay. Internalized homophobia and all that.

    Posted by: Bingbo | Jan 7, 2011 1:15:50 PM

  14. also, they totally missed frank's character. He is supposed to be deceptively smart, quoting Shakespeare when he's pissed drunk - he also lacking that suave ve faire that makes him a lady killer. again the bbc series he has 10+ kids including his wife's half-sister. too racy for us primetime, i think so.

    Posted by: Aaron | Jan 7, 2011 1:16:41 PM

  15. OMFG Becky!
    Steve Howey, the dufus son-in-law from "Reba" plays Kev the neighbor who gets the strap-on treatment from his girlfriend. Hot.

    Posted by: ggreen | Jan 7, 2011 1:20:41 PM

  16. Kurt is not the only gay character or gay teen character depicted on tv. He just may be the most high profile one. Some guys are femme or flamboyant, some are not. We're all different. What's the problem?

    Very excited to see this show.

    Posted by: Brian in Texas | Jan 7, 2011 1:27:56 PM

  17. Oh for crying out loud USA, come up with your own goddamn ideas!

    Posted by: jmatts | Jan 7, 2011 2:18:16 PM

  18. It's an interesting idea, if they don't try too hard. Even the most anti-stereotype, macho gay boy owns a Britney CD.

    Posted by: Gregoire | Jan 7, 2011 2:19:06 PM

  19. "Steve Howey, the dufus son-in-law from "Reba" plays Kev the neighbor who gets the strap-on treatment from his girlfriend. Hot.
    Posted by: ggreen | Jan 7, 2011 1:20:41 PM"

    ... and for the first time, Howey goes full frontal and ass nude in the series. Screen caps here of both:

    Posted by: dave02657 | Jan 7, 2011 2:29:15 PM

  20. This will be interesting. As a Brit, I'm curious how this will pan out because we have a different welfare/benefit system to you guys. Smeone said they would call social services, well these guys in Britain and the show, are heavily involved with SS. I don't know your system but ours is very easy to mess about with and scrounge.

    This family is very typical british in council estates etc. The ethnicity is always Irish gypsies which is why they NEVER want to work, have soo many kids and are really aggressive.

    The origin of these people also went to the south in the US, which I think has a very similar state of mind of people who live-aggressively and charmingly-by their own rules.

    I live in a county called Kent which had thousands of Irish gypsies which are all like that. Now Kent is very wealthy but parts are very deprived. Also because of their status as travellers, the govt went out of their way to support thm, which is good but one of the things Labour always failed at was grouping people into one circle and not having any measurement units around.

    Sounds harsh but of a group of people will never work or be able to work, you need to go one step further in making sure they are part of society because people will eventually get angry to fund their lifestyle.

    Also, this guy was a sweety! Not sure why he is a bad boy here???

    Yeah, he did that stuff but he was always supportng the family.

    Posted by: Rowan | Jan 7, 2011 2:29:40 PM

  21. sometime in the 90s i told a friend that i'd prefer to see a complex, richly drawn gay serial killer over a bland, goody two-shoes like will truman any day.

    that said, i like the character of kurt hummel a lot. yeah, he's little, yeah he's effeminate, yeah, he exemplifies a lot of stereotypes but he's also one of the most powerful characters on the show and continually demonstrates an inner strength most of the other characters don't have.

    not having had the opportunity to see shameless yet (but i want to) i can't make any advance judgements on ian gallagher but i like what i see so far and i'm glad that, finally, there seems to be room for a variety of types of gay characters instead of the same stereotypes we've been force fed since the 60s.

    Posted by: alguien | Jan 7, 2011 2:55:33 PM

  22. @Rowan,

    The U.S. contrary to common Euro/UK misconceptions, has a very extensive welfare/dole and social services system that exists on multiple levels. It's generally funded partially or in whole by the central federal government but operated by the state governments. And yes, it's easy to 'Play' and there is tremendous fraud, including in our very extensive subsidized healthcare plans [medicaid and medicare] and extensive housing subsidies.

    What you Brits call 'Estates', we Americans [and Canadians] call 'The Projects', i.e. housing projects. Also in the U.S., many variety-type food stores are operated my Muslims and/or Indians. It's kind of a running joke in the U.S. with many pop culture references.

    As far as the Brit version being too 'Racy' for the U.S.....LOL...give me a break. And tv show concepts in both countries are frequently copied.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Jan 7, 2011 3:10:42 PM

  23. The first season, 8 episodes, of the British version of Shameless, Series 1, is available in the U.S. Region 1 format at Amazon for $25.49. This is first year of the series, in which James McAvoy (Atonement) played Steve. I first got hooked on the original British series by renting it from Netflix, and then I had to buy my own copy from Amazon.

    The remaining seasons, through Series 7, is available only in the British Region 2 format. I purchased the boxed set of seasons 1 through 7 on Amazon, along with a multi-region DVD player. Amazon is also listing a Pioneer multi-region player for less than 80 bucks.

    With regard to the "anti-Hummel" controversy, maybe the gay community is still uncomfortable with internalized homophobia, and how the media should depict gay characters who are not conforming to a macho stereotype of masculinity. It is interesting that Kurt Hummel is played by an out gay man, while in both the British and U.S. versions of Shameless a straight actor is cast to play Ian. Are we projecting our own prejudices on what type of gay person we want to see portryed in the popular culture, like Newsweek's Ramin Setoodeh's columns suggest?

    There are gay men (and teens) who are jocks, and there are gay men and teens who are more effeminate. Are we so ashamed of femme type gay characters that we must construct an "anti-Hummel" paradigm to counter our fears of the full spectrum of male sexuality and gender expression?

    Posted by: John | Jan 7, 2011 3:23:32 PM

  24. Macy is definitely cringing at the prospect of seeing his career circle the drain with this over-the-top effort.

    Posted by: anon | Jan 7, 2011 4:57:54 PM

  25. Effeminate boys have borne the brunt of anti-gay bullying for, well, forever in part because they couldn't hide it. Meanwhile, "normal" or even "straight-acting" boys cowered in the closet until college or post-college or their whole lives.

    So I can totally see why we'd want to marginalize the "flamboyant" among us...

    Posted by: BobN | Jan 7, 2011 5:03:11 PM

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