The Interplay is a special bi-weekly series exploring the intersections of sex, pop culture, and current events.
According to GLAAD’s recently published Where We Are On TV report, lesbian, gay, and bisexual characters are having a banner season. There are more explicitly queer characters on more shows across the board. Of the hundreds of regular and recurring characters gracing our screens this season, 170 were identified as being LGBT. Moreover on both network and cable, the representations of those characters are becoming more diverse and balanced in terms of ethnicity and sexuality. Looking at raw numbers, it’s easy to see that we’re everywhere on TV. It’s even easier to say that this particular instance of being everywhere is a good thing. Thing is though, it might not be. This fall’s crop of headlining queer are defined more by the sex they’re having than by their substance.
Regardless of what you think about her shows, Shonda Rhimes’s programming on ABC has become something of a cultural phenomenon. In terms of ratings, How to Get Away With Murder and Scandal rank as two of the most popular and widely-acclaimed television shows airing this fall. Both programs prominently feature gay leading characters wrought in Rhimes’s signature hyperbolic style.
Scandal’s Cyrus Beene, played by veteran stage actor Jeff Perry, is notable for being one of the few older queer characters given the spotlight. Throughout the series Beene and his husband James Novak (Dan Bucatinsky) plotted and backstabbed in proper Scandal fashion, and in many ways the characters’ sexualities were ancillary aspects of their personalities. How To Get Away With Murder’s Connor Walsh (Jack Falahee) bears a striking resemblance to Cyrus Beene. Both are smart, conniving, career-driven men whose sexualities are sources of strength, rather than shame. To that end, neither show has shied away from portraying their gay characters’ sexual intimacy.
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