Is television Finally Ditching The ‘Gay Best Friend’?

Is television Finally Ditching The ‘Gay Best Friend’?

«The ‘gay closest friend’ trope is homosexuality on right people’s terms. We deserve better. «

Gays! They’re everywhere these full times: within our houses, inside our groups, inside our politics, and flocking together like tropical birds on our reality television shows.

With regards to television representation, we’re doing a lot better than before. We’ve got gay wizards, homosexual superheroes and homosexual teenage detectives on our displays. We’ve got trans and sex non-binary characters in a few shows, such as for example Orange could be the brand brand New Black and clear. But as heartening because it’s seeing people that are LGBTQI display, showrunners continue to have a responsibility to ensure these figures are far more than easy ticks in a package.

We deserve figures that fulfil more function than merely being on-screen and homosexual. We deserve a lot better than the storied and‘gay that is egregious friend’.

Where There’s A Will (And Grace) There’s A Way

The homosexual companion happens to be a television basic for many years now. If there’s a female on television having intimate dilemmas, you better think there is certainly a sassy homosexual label offering her wise yet arch advice. Think Stanford Blatch from Sex in addition to City, who was simply defined by the endless hunger for Carrie’s non-stop drama and bad relationship alternatives. He had been the template when it comes to homosexual closest friend — the Platonian ideal.

George from Julia Robert’s most useful movie My Best Friend’s Wedding was another notable person in the GBF (Gay closest friend) vanguard.

They constantly appear to be males also, because of the few samples of lesbian closest friend handling to fall outside of the faculties with this trope. That is most likely because lesbian presence on tv is significantly smaller than homosexual males (imagine if Buffy began a trope of lesbian close friends whom like to flay males with dark secret).

The homosexual companion is fundamentally defined by just how much of an accessory he’s to your right protagonist. He’s basically just pulled down for unique occasions, whenever some one requires an ear that is sympathetic a shopping montage, or maybe some gossip in a cocktail club. In Intercourse as well as the City’s heyday, the homosexual friend that is best became an indication of status when it comes to cultured, inner-city woman — because essential as a set of Manolo Blahniks or even a Cosmopolitan.

“It’s homosexuality on right people’s terms. ”

The difficulty with this particular trade in stereotypical homosexual guys is the fact that it implicitly describes exactly exactly exactly what an ‘acceptable’ kind of homosexuality appears like — plus in television, that is defined by what’s commercially viable. Even though the GBF is inherently bound up in notions of sex, these are generally seldom regarded as sexual beings. The work of homointercourseual sex continues to be tip-toed around on lots of tv, specially commercial companies which can be directed at ‘families’. This can even extend to displays of homosexual affection in some cases.

While nevertheless being represented, the homosexual friend that is best becomes concealed behind an outdated collection of actions and behaviours, cloaked by appropriate, non-threatening stereotypes.

Most of the response that is conservative homosexuality is approximately ‘not forcing it down people’s throats’. Aside from as a terminology that is overtly sexual this really is the type of homophobia that the GBF trope frequently plays into. It’s homosexuality on right people’s terms, in place of real representation of exactly just how people that are gay.

Once the just homosexual individual on a show is offered unequal time because of their love — or their love life is also addressed given that comic relief, we’re overtly being told free sex chatrooms that straight people’s love is not just more crucial, but additionally the standard. We’re being told that homosexuality differs from the others, the ‘other’. Both Will and Grace had been the key figures inside their show that is own example — but since revolutionary as which was at that time — we undoubtedly heard far more about Grace’s love life.

Too Gay To Operate

This might be a trope which have gradually been placed off to pasture, but it is specially interesting to analyse with a number of programs through the golden age of GBF now getting reboots. The SATC that is short-lived spin-off Carrie Diaries had its very own precursor to Stanford Blatch, Gilmore Girls rebooted having a partner for Michel, and certainly will and Grace is on its far too.

Although we don’t want to be complacent, it feels as though brand new shows are taking more care in developing brand new homosexual figures. The club happens to be raised therefore high with gorgeously three-dimensional homosexual figures and their complex homosexual romances in programs like Sense8 or Please that it shines a stark contrast on shows that aren’t putting in quite the same effort like me.

This present year, Netflix’s teen-drama that is new includes a homosexual character within the blandly handsome Kevin. Kevin has also been homosexual into the Archie comics from where the show ended up being based, although he had been an addition that is late just joining the gang this year (which obtained the comics a GLAAD prize at that time). But the TV is being watched by me form of him like a hawk.

At the moment, as the show shows a wonderful self-awareness towards the homosexual closest friend trope

— also referencing the out-of-date cliche by title in a slick burn by syrup heiress Cheryl Blossom — they nevertheless have actually prioritised not merely most of the right individuals romances over their own, but also Archie’s never-ending quest to play ‘Wonderwall’. Whenever a bro’s love of electric electric guitar is prioritised within the one romance that is queer a show, we get dubious.

Everyone’s problematic fave, Girls, has additionally ignited discussion for the trope. Though he’s been the topic of critique in past times, Hannah’s friend that is best Elijah was presented with significant amounts of development within the show’s final periods.

He was also given space to grow through a complicated and full relationship (with full on-screen sex) as well as a standalone episode that focussed on a potential career path while he was always a go-to for support, bitchy gossip, and coke-fuelled nights out. Elijah may possibly not be the primary focus for the show — maybe maybe maybe not being one of many titular Girls — but he could be positively characterised as the full and person that is real problems and arcs, whom lives outside of Hannah’s dilemmas.

Narratively, it is well well worth having this variety of romances — by restricting the GBF to a staid supporting role, we’re restricting the range of y our very very own tales. We’re restricting the worth of our representation on display screen, forcing queer individuals into impractical moulds. And we’re restricting just how many men that are hot reach see kissing, and that I won’t stand for.

Patrick Lenton is just an author and writer. He tweets at @patricklenton.

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