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A recent GLAAD study was posted by the Washington Post which reflected the record amount of LGBTQ characters in modern television and analyzed that, “Broadcast TV includes the highest percentage of regularly appearing gay characters — 4.8 percent — since Gay rights organization GLAAD began its count 21 years ago.” (Read the full article here). I reflected in a past post that I felt that sitcoms had become more liberal in their representations of sexuality, allowing for the growth and representation of LGBTQ characters and couples. The American audience has had same-sex marriage normalized through the proliferation of LGBTQ couples such as Cam and Mitch on Modern Family. But, I have come to wonder if sitcoms are the only safe havens for these gay pairings.
In my opinion, I feel as if gay characters are depicted as emotionally unstable or at risk of death in mainstream media. In Grey’s Anatomy, Callie is flung through a windshield and loses her mobility in a car cash, and later is cheated on by her wife Arizona. In How to Get Away With Murder, Connor is decreased as increasingly paranoid and promiscuous, while his boyfriend Oliver contracts AIDs and breaks up with Connor. In Scandal, Cyrus’s husband James is shot and killed in a government coverup, and then Cyrus starts to date a gay escort and cheats on him with a man that is guilty of killing President Grant’s son. Cyrus then goes on to wrangle his way into being the Democratic Vice President nominee after committing heinous crimes. Now I know these are dramas, but there are surely still straight characters that have more normal lives in them. Also, ironically these are all Shonda Rhimes shows, and Shonda Rhimes is acclaimed for introducing more LGBTQ characters into mainstream media. But did the characters all have to be so extreme and problematic? Could there not be a more simplified love story that still face its challenges? Perhaps there can only be two extreme in mainstream representations of LGBTQ individual. The idyllic, happy, married couple in sitcoms, and the disasterous and sometimes emotionally unhinges gay characters in dramas. Is this the same standard for heterosexual characters?
by Andrew Guido