Itching to know what awaits Downton Abbey's sometimes villainous but almost always tortured gay character Thomas Barrow on the forthcoming season of the popular costume drama? Show creator Julian Fellowes recently revealed one plot twist in store for handsome Thomas that may put you in a tizzy. Find out more, AFTER THE JUMP... (WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD!)
Rob James-Collier Hub
When it comes to LGBT characters on television, 2013 was the best of times and the worst of times. The first half of the year was part of the record-setting 2012-2013 television season in terms of LGBT representation on television. However, it also saw the end of many shows featuring LGBT characters, including The New Normal, Smash, Southland, and Happy Endings.
Despite these losses, LGBT characters on television continued to become more multi-dimensional and better reflect the lives of LGBT people in 2013. For example, in the wake of the Supreme Court's decision to strike down DOMA and rule that Prop. 8 proponents have no standing, there were many television weddings and proposals. There was also a small uptick in transgender representation, including characters on the critically lauded Orange Is the New Black and Glee.
Relive 10 of our favorite LGBT moments on television this year and share yours in the comments, AFTER THE JUMP ...
British TV presenter Jonathan Ross spoke with Downton Abbey footman Rob James-Collier about his gay storyline on the series, and asked if he found kissing men harder than kissing women on screen.
"I found it easier.The way I was thinking was that if you kiss a girl you worry about: 1) How big her boyfriend is; 2) Is he in the building watching and is he going to kick the s**t out of you?; and 3) What is my missus going to think of it? So we went to the BFI for a big unveiling on the cinema screen, and the missus knew it (the kiss) was coming, and we were all sitting watching it and I thought 'Nice one, she can't accuse me of anything', and the missus turned to me and said 'You've never kissed me like that'."
The NYT talks to Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes about Season 3, and part of their conversation discusses Thomas Barrow's storyline, and the attitudes toward gay people then and now.
Another story line from this season dealt with the household learning that the servant Thomas is gay. Had you decided that about him from the time you created the character?
He was always going to be gay. I don’t know about in America, but here, there are so many people under 40 who were hardly aware of the fact that it was actually illegal until the 1960s. Perfectly normal men and women were risking prison by making a pass at someone. Their whole life was lived in fear, and ruin and humiliation and career after career would be smacked down. I think it’s useful to remind people that many things that they take for granted, are, in terms of our history, comparatively new. But I also felt it was believable that someone living under that pressure would be quite snippy and ungenerous and untrusting. But once you understood what he was up against, you’d forgive quite a lot of that. I like to write characters where you change your mind, without them becoming different people.
The reactions from the others in the house, particularly those who disapprove so vehemently, make you see them in a new light, too.
Well, I think it’s a mistake to give people modern attitudes if you want them to remain sympathetic, because I think the audience picks up on that. If Carson had said, “Oh, yes, I think it’s absolutely fine,” that’s a 2013 response. My parents didn’t have any prejudice about this at all, actually. In fact, my brother’s godfather was gay, quite publicly, which in the 50s was pretty wild. This was a good friend of my father’s. He was liberal. It didn’t bother him if people were homosexual. But we can forget how we were ringed in with these prejudices until really quite recently.
Read the full interview HERE.
[SPOILERS - Don't read if you haven't seen last night's episode]
Rob James-Collier on the reaction to the action in last night's Downton Abbey episode:
It could be proper HBO. It’s quite gritty and dark, isn’t it? Thomas becomes besotted. Let’s face it, he borderline stalks Jimmy. He turns into an Edwardian sex pest. It’s pretty bad. But then he goes on this huge journey and he’s being manipulated by O’Brien into thinking this guy feels the same way. And he knows he doesn’t. The fallout from my kissing Jimmy was really dramatic....
It’s great to see there’s an impact downstairs and it’s not just those bastards upstairs. Thomas gets quite choked up, doesn’t he? And then after he kisses Jimmy, he’s just completely distraught and destroyed and vulnerable, and you feel sorry for him. I’ve had people come up to me in the street and go, “Oh my God, Thomas made me cry last night, and I hate you for making him make me cry because I love to hate him.” I’m messing up people’s lives. There was this punter who came up to me on the tube and goes, “Listen, mate, I don’t normally watch period drama.” That’s how it always starts, and the next line is, “my missus watches it.” And then the third is, “but I’ve actually started liking it. You f**king the man, man. Last night, the tears…” and then he just walks off! And you think, This is what I do it for...
...I just want to say thank you to everyone who watched and tuned in and loved my evil gayness.
More of his Vulture interview here.
OUT's Aaron Hicklin turns in a detailed interview with Rob James-Collier, who plays Downton Abbey's gay footman Thomas Barrow. His character's sexuality gets turned up in season 3:
James-Collier has joked that his character's sexuality became so muted in season 2 that he called up Fellowes and asked, "Am I still gay?" Yes, it turns out. In season 3, we get to see Thomas outed in a powerful sequence of episodes that James-Collier considers the best acting of his career. "It's the series where we really comes to grips with Thomas's sexuality and the impact being gay must have had on him, in Edwardian times," he says. "If you're including a gay character, there's an onus and responsibility to at least show what the impact of the time will be on him, and of him on that time. Thankfully we've done that, and I'm so proud that I've been used to tell that tale."
A confrontation between Thomas and the butler, Mr. Carson, proves to be a high point, and one that confers uncommon dignity on the footman. "It's a lovely, beautiful moment," says James-Collier, clearly delighted by the opportunity to redeem his character. "If you were gay in those times, the fact that you're even functioning, how you're not completely f**ked up by that, is beyond me."
Watch the trailer for Season 3, AFTER THE JUMP...