Apparently Hollywood loves to reintroduce audiences to movies and shows that have made them a ridiculous amount of money (exhibit A: the “Spiderman” franchise). Or they’re just lazy about creating something new.
With the current spate of announcements regarding a “Friends” reunion show, a reboot of “Gossip Girl,” and the largely ignored return of “Saved By The Bell,” there is clearly a trend in revisiting popular series with the hope that the new version will gain traction for today’s viewing public. And today’s viewing public is more diverse, more sophisticated, and more easily distracted than ever, so Hollywood has needed to step up their game. While gay characters and storylines have progressed significantly since the “Golden Age” of television, there are still quite a bit of negative stereotypes and opportunities for improvement in how we are represented on screen.
The popularity of such retro channels such as MeTV attests to the nostalgic allure of legacy network television. To rewatch series from an adult perspective that we had only viewed as a little kid in our pajamas is a double thrill — reliving a favorite childhood memory while also appreciating the adult humor that usually was missed on our six year old selves.
The American lesbian cartoonist and writer, Alison Bechdel, created a test to grade how well a particular work of literature (or television, or film) portrays a woman character. It asks the question: “Does this work feature at least two women who talk to each other about something other than a man?” Frankly, it’s a great way to evaluate any book or visual art.
Of course there is a gay equivalent, dubbed the “Vito Russo Test” (Vito Russo was a talented gay writer who wrote the authoritative book “The Celluloid Closet”). GLAAD publishes a survey in his honor each year using the following criteria: “Does the film contain a character that is identifiably LGBT, and is not solely or predominantly defined by their sexual orientation or gender identity, as well as tied into the plot in such a way that their removal would have a significant effect?”
In the spirit of the “Vito Russo Test” I would like to add a “Buck Jones Rule” which is: “Does the series/movie include a character I would like to f*ck?” (Yes, I’m a shallow queen).
So using the “Vito Russo Test” coupled with the “Buck Jones Rule” and given the current mood for rebooting favorite television shows of our childhood years, here are my suggestions for any studio executive or show runner in Hollywood to consider when thinking of what to produce in the coming months…
- Murder, She Wrote
Original concept: An elderly murder mystery writer inexplicably shows up in town when a murder takes place, which she solves within 40 minutes.
Reboot: Why not have a gay, older man play the role of Jessica Fletcher (just call him Jessie). Showing up in various situations where there happens to be a murder, and throw in some Bruce Vilanch quips, our modern-day sleuth could even be teamed up with a sassy drag queen (Bianca Del Rio, call your agent!).
Making it gayer: One word: Leslie Jordan (okay, that was two words, or three if you assibilate your lisp appropriately). What better “she” for a gay reboot than our very own older busy-body queen. I would love to see Jordan play this updated version of this television classic.
2. The Partridge Family
Original concept: A talented singing family with a single mom and a teenaged heart-throb son (as well as a sassy ginger middle child) travel around California on a converted school bus, singing and spreading some 1970s whole lotta of love wherever they go. “…And something always happens whenever we’re together!”
Reboot: Okay, this one is so easy, I can’t believe I’m doing the work for these Hollywood executives, but here you go (you can thank me later). A talented single mom who with her sexy teenaged (gay) son can sing and together they travel along with the rest of the family (sassy ginger middle child, Emo-perpetually-bored-look-in-her-eyes older daughter, and then the two younger, interchangeable kids who “play” the tambourine and wood block or drums), ride around in an eco-friendly hybrid bus, spreading some 2020s socially distanced love wherever they go.
Making it gayer: Hmmm. A teenaged gay guy who can actually sing AND act? I volunteer to judge the casting call for this one. Top of my list for the updated “Keith Partridge” (David Cassidy) role would be Harry Styles. Too old you say? After I throw my drink in your face and scream “ageist!” I would calm down and politely tell you that I would be fine with Ollie Alexander.
3. Knot’s Landing
Original concept: J.R. Ewing’s younger brother, Gary Ewing, flees “Dallas” for Southern California with his wife, Valene. Together they start a new life in a cul-de-sac that is riven with scandal, gossip, and adultery!
Reboot: J.R. Ewing’s younger brother, Gary Ewing, flees “Dallas” with his gay boyfriend, Victor. Together they start a new life in a cul-de-sac that is riven with scandal, gossip, and adultery! (Yep, not much has changed but I’m already a step ahead of you… enter the “Buck rule”).
Making it gayer: Gurrl, I’m not gonna lie but I loved me some “Knots Landing” back in the day. When that 1980s soft jazz saxophone realness started playing, I knew that I was in for a treat watching Val (and Abby) get into all kinds of crazy nonsense. This time I want to have Victor (and Gary) sleeping with every hawt guy in Southern California. Top of my list to play Victor?
4. The Jeffersons
Original concept: George and Louise “Weezy” Jefferson are a wealthy black couple who move into the Upper East Side of New York City, to a dee-luxe apartment, in the skyyyy.
Reboot: First off, you have to keep that amazing theme song that was written and performed by the wonderfully talented Ja’Net DuBois (and co-written by Jeff Barry). If that song doesn’t make you want to get out of your recliner and start dancin’, I don’t know what will! Secondly, we live in a moment of public consciousness that black lives matter, and that we still need to move forward not only in gay rights and depictions in media, but also the same is true for people of color. Again, I can’t believe I’m having to do the job YET AGAIN of a Hollywood show-runner, but here you go… George and Lou “Weezy” Jefferson are a married gay black couple who move into a conservative white neighborhood. Bam! Think of the hilarity that will ensue. You’re welcome.
Making it gayer: Thirst-traps galore, starting off with my picks for George and “Weezy”. How about some of this for starters…
Mr. Keiynan Lonsdale and Mr. Kendrick Sampson
5. The West Wing
Original concept: A liberal old white guy gets elected President and his staff walks around a lot in the West Wing of the White House trying to make life better for Americans.
Reboot: I got to admit that I revisited this modern, liberal fantasy world often during the Trump era. It made me feel like things weren’t completely gone to shit. So what goes around comes around, and now we’re living in a new world where a liberal old white guy got elected as President! But what’s not to love about the original… Stockard Channing (I mean, come on!), the witty dialogue and topics torn straight from the headlines, and then of course, the dreamy “Matt Santos” character (played by Jimmy Smits) who runs to succeed President Josiah Bartlet (played by Martin Sheen). It should be noted that the original series began in 1999, during the final gasps of the Clinton administration, so it would not be out of the question to have a reboot done during the Biden administration.
Making it gayer: We already had a gay candidate run for president this past election (now our Department of Transportation Secretary, Mr. Pete Buttigieg), so why not have a gay president in this new version of “The West Wing”? I’d love to see someone like the real life couple of Neil Patrick Harris and David Burktka play the roles of President and First Gentleman!
6. Desperate Housewives
Original concept: This dark comedy was about four housewives who lived on the same street and at various times hated, helped, or hindered each other in their pursuits of love, sex, and murder.
Reboot: Returning to Wisteria Lane we would find four desperate house husbands, and not everything is as it seems.
Making it gayer: Have one of the households be a gay couple, and certainly they find there is still plenty of love, sex, and murder among their neighbors. I’m thinking this would be right up Matt Bomer’s alley, so to speak.
7. Miami Vice
Original concept: Perhaps no series captured the aesthetic of 1980s America, combining fashion, music, pastel colors than “Miami Vice.” Two sexy Miami detectives team up wearing shoulder pads and drive sports cars to solve crimes.
Reboot: The last reboot as a film in 2006 starring Jamie Foxx and Colin Farrell did okay at the box office, and enough time has passed that a new version for the current moment in America could succeed incorporating the fashion, music, and weird Florida headlines of today.
Making it gayer: So finding a sexy “Sonny” Crockett and “Rico” Tubbs is a tough job, but I volunteer to start the search. Since this is 2021 and not 1984 at least one of the leads needs to be a gay thirst trap.
What series would you love to get a gay reboot? Tell us in the comments below!
“This post is solely the opinion of this contributing writer and may not reflect the opinion of other writers, staff, or owners of Instinct Magazine.”
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