Arguably speaking, the two greatest television shows to primarily feature gay men are Queer as Folk and Will & Grace. Two fantastic programs that were completely different in terms of how they portrayed gay men and our daily lives.
Not only did both shows start roughly 20 years ago and had a great amount of success, but their production was also a major milestone for our community, getting the conversation going outside of our community to where audiences from all backgrounds not only felt invited, but also became educated on what it was like to be a gay man.
The struggle to find something even close to the scope of those two shows and since then has not happened. We should becounting our lucky starts that Will and Grace returned. Sure, LGBTQ visibility on television is at its greatest numbers ever, however the majority of who we are on camera revolves around supporting characters and not an entire LGBTQ ensemble. We’ve come this far yet still feel kind of like a second thought.
Have we had opportunities since W&G and QaF premiered? Sure. We had Noah’s Arc and Looking. Both with similar premises, but with entirely different characters, plots, storylines, and whatnot. Did we s**t all over each? Not sure about the former, but the latter we definitely did.
I was one of those very harsh critics of Looking the minute it premiered, and my jaded attitude about the characters and their development kind of stuck with me all the way to the movie. Looking (no pun intended) back, I didn’t realize how necessary this show was given that we haven’t had an all gay ensemble in so many years, yet due to low ratings and the criticism the show faced it was canceled after two seasons. Luckily, there was the movie to try and tie all the loose ends up, however this was a series that could’ve gone further if we just rolled with the punches and stopped being so freaking critical for 5 minutes.
It’s very frustrating that this is sort of the equivalent to how people view girl groups and The Spice Girls. Domestically (in the United States), we really haven’t had a girl group of that magnitude in such a long time and this goes for developing a successful gay television series where we are the focus and not the side dish. Yes, it's great that W&G is back, but the show is still heavily flawed in not focusing on the relationships for Will and Jack (separately), but more about Grace’s love life and Will being there for her in the end.
Why can’t we seem to get it together and make a new LGBTQ show happen? That goes the same for a lot of the primarily gay movies that have been made for decades now. We hated so many of them, yet several are unknown gems today, and they cover material that the younger generations should be watching (And The Band Played On, Longtime Companion, etc).
Things are different today compared to what they were even ten years ago. Shows like Friends, Frasier, and Sex and the City wouldn’t really work in 2018 as they did 20 years ago given how everything has become so digital today. Looking did a good job at capturing both in real life experiences mixed with digital ones, and W&G has done the same… even repeating ideas they did in the original one with the reboot.
Still, we don’t have that television series that focuses on the modern-day life of the gay man. There have been reality series that have tried to capture this, but have failed, some of which were more insulting then helpful (Boy Meets Boy anyone?)
Whether it be a drama, comedy, horror, or whatever, it would be amazing if we could capture that magic of the gay lifestyle on a 42-minute edited television show sometime soon. This time around, I can say for myself that I will not be so quick to judge as I did in the past, as these things can be the “little engine that could” and our community is the tracks that it needs to ride on. Otherwise, programs will never leave the station and we'll continue with being represented by a supporting cast member.
This post was created by one of our Contributing Writers and does not reflect the opinion of Instinct Magazine or the other Contributing Writers when it comes to this subject.