Will ‘Melrose Place’ Do Better by Its Gay Characters?

Photo Credit: FOX

The internet is talking about the second Melrose Place reboot. I’ve never watched the show before, it was slightly before my time, but it’s undoubtedly a cult favorite. I know the basic premise and some of the actors who lead the series, which ran between 1992 and 1998, and that there was a very short-lived reboot that lasted one season in 2009. However, what I didn’t know is that Melrose Place featured an out gay character – which was incredibly progressive for the era. Looking into the character of Matthew Fielding Jr. a little more, I thought it was a good conversation point due to his contribution to gay culture and how the network ultimately handled his character in the mid-1990s. 

Matthew Fielding Jr., played by actor Doug Savant, was introduced at the start of the series despite not becoming a full-fledged character until season two. Fielding was one of the occupants in the famed apartment building often mingling with the central cast. He was quite obviously Melrose Place’s answer to the queer community, and he was actually involved in some very heavy storylines. During his tenure on the show, Fielding was the subject of several gay bashings as well as workplace discrimination, and dealt with subjects including HIV, Green Card Marriages and Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Which is, albeit, a little strange considering he was a social worker that always found himself in risky situations. 


While it sounds great to have gay representation in mainstream media in the 1990s, it’s the end of Matthew Fielding Jr.’s time on Melrose Place that raises my eyebrows. It’s noted online that Fielding’s love life was a trainwreck that never saw him in anything truly meaningful or worse – gasp – ever getting laid. Fielding was destined to become one of the first gay kisses on primetime television. The scene was filmed and set to air, but at the last second, FOX decided to cut the scene and instead featured reaction shots from other characters. Not cool, FOX. To make matters worse, Fielding fell into the typical “bury your gays” stereotype and was killed offscreen in a car crash. So much hope for the future and yet completely shit on by executives.

Doug Savant, now age 54, was able to recoup after his character’s untimely death. He popped up in a bunch of hit movies including Teen Wolf, Trick or Treat and Godzilla and was a recurring character on TV shows including Knots Landing and Desperate Housewives – though it’s possible Melrose Place will always be his biggest claim to fame as it was watched by almost 15,000,000 people at its peak. That’s probably why he wanted to return in some capacity to the incredibly unsuccessful reboot in 2009. Maybe he’ll return in the 2025 reboot? Either way, his contribution to gay pop culture will always be felt. And I’m hoping that the Melrose Place 2025 reboot is a little better to its gay characters. We have come a long way… 

2 thoughts on “Will ‘Melrose Place’ Do Better by Its Gay Characters?”

  1. It’s funny! They seem willing to bring back his real life wife’s character, Sidney. She died in the original series and was brought back for the first reboot to die again. Now they’re bringing her back for a third time??? WTF people. I’m out. No interest in the new reboot I read about on here.

  2. It’s kind of funny that a person too young for the original Melrose Place wrote this article, but you got the details right! I’m (very much) old enough to have seen them first-run (after having seen the original Dynasty, and its even LESS well-handled gay character Stephen, years earlier). Gay viewers were fairly starved for representation, and both shows gave us *something.* Unsatisfying, but something. Doug Savant probably is at least as famous for Desperate Housewives though. He was a full-fledged regular cast member by season 3 or so, and he and Felicity Huffman had major plotlines. I’d love to see him return to Melrose, his death having been greatly exaggerated maybe.


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