The last time CBS featured a show with a gay character in a lead role was in the spring of 2001 when they were trying to ride the Will & Grace gravy train on a flop show called Some Of My Best Friends. In my opinion, that show was a flop only in that it didn’t attract a mainstream audience, but it was a fantastic show that was co-written by Marc Cherry (pre-Desperate Housewives) and co-starred Alec Mapa before he landed some more prominent roles on Desperate Housewives and Ugly Betty. Only 7 episodes were produced and CBS only aired 5 of them before unceremoniously yanking the show from its line-up. CBS never seemed to recover from the experience and has featured very few LGBT characters on their shows since then, unless they played someone who died at the beginning of a CSI or Mentalist episode.
This fall may open the door for the gay community as they will be featuring a series with 2 gay characters. One is played by Michael Urie (Ugly Betty) and the other hunky Brandon Routh (Chuck, Superman). And while Brandon doesn’t typically come across as someone you would peg for portraying gay, he’s done so a few times before, coincidentally on Will & Grace, as well as in the Kevin Smith movie Zach and Mira Make A Porno.
The show itself emulates the lives of the show’s creaters Max Mutchnick and David Kohan. In real life, these two were responsible for Will & Grace with Mutchnick being openly gay while Kohan is openly straight. As described by CBS president Nina Tassler, Partners is “ a show about working with your best friend with whom you’ve grown up” and “how do you find that balance between what you tell your partner and what you tell your best friend.”
The pilot episode opens up with showing the two leads in quick flashbacks from their early childhood until present so that you immediately have a sense that they’ve been life long friends who, like in our real life, have grown into very different individuals. And yet, they still have managed to keep a tremendous bond with one another as best friends and business partners. For those who remember Michael Urie from his Snarky Assistant role on Ugly Betty, you may not immediately recognize him as he is a bit different individual this time around who proves to have some great comedic timing. (Kind of reminded me of a gay “Jack Tripper”..)
I’ll confess in the first 10 minutes of the version I received, I wasn’t sure this was going to fly. Urie (Louis) made me a bit uncomfortable with his over the top personality. But by the last half of the episode, we seem to get a better sense as to what he’s all about and settle in with his character. Brandon Routh (Wyatt), who’s character plays a registered nurse, is a perfect partner for Urie in that he seems to have a laid back persona that compliments the Louis character’s type A persona. You also have his business partner David Krumholtz (Joe) who begins with his dilemma about whether or not to propose to his girlfriend, played by Sophia Bush (Ali). Both had great timing as well and you had a sense that these people had chemistry together.
It’s always difficult to catch up the audience with the character setup while keeping things interesting, but the first episode managed to do so by the end. But again, I’d give this one a chance if you aren’t fully invested in the first 10 minutes.
I don’t want to spoil too much here, but had to share my favorite joke thrown to Brandon Routh’s character acknowledging proof that he is gay by his obsessively recording all of the shows on Bravo. (Interesting how they picked Bravo instead of LOGO, don’t ya think?)
Anyhow, the characters, both gay and straight seem to have some dimension to them, but there is definitely room for some growth. Will and Grace took some time to catch on as well. Let’s just hope that CBS allows this show more time to catch on than they did for Some Of My Best Friends. Fingers crossed.
Well based on the response from my “Open Letter To LOGO” post, one thing 99.2% of the responders agreed on ….. LOGO is on the road to bankruptcy. But it seemed that a few took exception to my views and at the same time, gave me insight into all of the self-loathing gay stereotypes out there that must have had some horrific experiences reading through the gay want-ads that said “NO FATS, NO FEMMS”. One guy actually asked me if I wanted him to commit suicide. Based on what? My yearning for some non-stereotypical gay programming for the LOGO Channel? Aren’t we being a bit of a drama queen?
And thanks to Michael Musto’s Village Voice posting, I viewed other responses from “Ick” (how appropriate) – “Some of the guy’s statements are illiterate and some of his suggestions for shows would get no ratings. does he not realize Logo is a business, not a charity operation?” And Jessica answered brilliantly “Only someone with a narrow and illiterate mind would think the only way to attract an audience would be to find flashy flamboyant drag queens.” But in actuality, I would have to take more exception with someone posting I have illiterate thoughts without an explanation. Are you too illiterate to ellaborate?
As for the shows I suggested that would get no ratings, well, I can tell you that the Bar Takeover idea did quite well as a stand alone episode on Bravo on a little show called “Tabitha Takes Over”. While Tabitha typically takes over hair salons, here, she stepped out of her comfort zone to take over a gay bar in Long Beach, CA., renovate it and put it back on the map. And the show attracted over a million viewers, which is quite good for Bravo and I’m sure 10 times what LOGO’s kiddie pageant series “Eden’s World” drew.
My favorite comment was from Slimjim, who said “What next–BET will show white shows because they’ll say we found out that’s what black people want???” Exactly Slimjim (except for the grammar issue I had). BET actually is quite popular with their niche audience and a show that failed on the CW called The Game drew over 5 million viewers on BET because they know their audience. Some of you out there would have suggested the LOGO-TV type approach of putting on reruns of Spin City on the channel because there was a black character on there. (Shhh, I forgot, the character was gay too, don’t give LOGO any ideas.)
This also answers JDolphy’s question posed earlier “How does one cater to a community that has no identity?”
Great discussions out there people, but what I found frightful was JDolphy’s later comment that said:
“No one was watching and this forced Logo to rethink how they would reach out to our community. You know what they found out? Gay men, in particular, care more about straight artists with a strong and independent persona than they do about gay ones. So if Logo wants to make a 24-hour Madonna/GaGa/Kathy Griffin/Campy movies/Circuit Party Music-type channel, I would have to agree that it might actually get more people to care. Look at Drag Race. It’s about the only thing on the channel that actually gets good viewership.”
This sounds like someone working inside the LOGO network. Yikes!
So in response.. First of all, I disagree – get new researchers. The A List also had good viewership, but LOGO wanted to “go in a different direction” as per one of the stars of the show, Reichen Lehmkul’s tweet.
Others however, such as Sirius Out Q’s Derek Hartley, publicly denounced the A- List show as heinous in its poor portrayal of the gay community. At the same time, this doesn’t mean we don’t have an interest in watching men being men.
I remember there was also outcry over one of my favorite shows Queer As Folk (the US version). Say what you want about the sexual storylines, but they hit home with the gay world I witnessed and the variety of gay people that touched most aspects of the gay community during its run. And yet please take note JDolphy, people watched! Go figure. And without everyone dressing up in their best boa and shouting for Kathy Griffin.
I think Michael Musto’s Village Voice synopsis showed he was the most spot-on when it came to understanding the message I conveyed. And despite his discomfort with my remarks about LOGO-TV just catering to the Drag side of the gay community, I was pretty clear in stating that I enjoyed the Drag Race series and have no issues with TV shows that highlight the flamboyant side of our community, however, isn’t it about time we showed that we can be funny without being flamboyant?
OK, maybe because I’m partnered with a very funny gay cop who doesn’t exude any of the stereotypical traits found in Modern Family’s Cameron character, I’m a bit biased, but again, speak from experience. I’m also not like some of my militant gay com-padre’s who won’t watch anything gay that has a hint of effeminate mannerisms. I don’t care, I want to be entertained and there are a lot of “Cameron’s” out there who possess them in real life so yeah, I watch and laugh with the rest of America. BUT, I’d like someone to convey the side of gay life seldom scene. Interesting gay people doing interesting things without camping it up. LOGO-TV has the power to do something about this and create quite a niche for themselves, but they choose not to.
It’s unfortunate that you never catered to the LGBT community in the past very well, but now you seem to have abandoned them all together, with the exception of your Drag Race fans. Your latest offering – “In The Big House” looks to be another travesty. And while you are touting this as the “real life” Modern Family, the truth is, this is anything but a bunch of straight mobsters who happen to clash with another gay stereotype. Even your “about LOGO” shows that you no longer want to cater to LGBT.
Logo celebrates one-of-a-kind personalities, unconventional stories and discovering what’s next-all through a mix of original and acquired entertainment that’s outrageous, smart and inclusive. Entertaining a social, savvy audience of gay trendsetters, Logo also attracts a straight audience that wants to be ahead of the curve.
Come on now LOGO, who are these social and savvy gay trendsetters you speak of? Latrice Royale fans? Please also note, I watched every season of RuPaul’s Drag Race so I’m not anti–Drag, but I’d love it if you offered some other representation.
The Gay Community understands that it is difficult to create something fresh and modern that may have a cross appeal on a limited budget, however, BRAVO seemed to figure it out just fine. Watch What Happens Live is probably the cheapest produced show I ever saw, yet it’s continuously fresh, innovative, entertaining and routinely attracts over 1 Million Viewers nightly and many of which are both straight and gay.
They know their audience and they know how to be creative in bringing in viewers.
It’s great you found 1 hit show in all these years thanks to the cross-appeal of Drag Queens, but it would be nice to show the rest of the world that you can also attract a more mainstream audience by showing a more original facet of gay culture. Perhaps showing a gay version of Real Housewives was not the answer. Perhaps the answer is finding an element in the gay community that doesn’t present us as a “Girls Just Want To Have Fun” video would be a bit more captivating.
There are a lot of lower budget ways to find an audience. LOGO should be the first network that can show the rest of the world that the gay community can be interesting without having to put on a dress or camp it up. Here are a few rough ideas
- A dating and/or cooking competition show that features all sorts of representatives from the gay community.
- A Gay Bar Rescue type of show where someone saves another poorly run Gay Bar from failing…
- A talent / variety show that features all from the LGBT community?
- The life and times of Gay Cops and Firemen.
While the concepts may not be all that original, the casting, execution and presentation of these can be.
Perhaps if one of these clicks, you’d have a budget for scripted entertainment – a sitcom that shows a more realistic version of a gay couple raising a kid, or a group of gay singles trying to find their way in the world of love. Or better yet, a Soap Opera that takes place in West Hollywood or someplace not often publicized much by the gay community, like Chicago -:).
There, now I’ve put together your 3 year blue print for success.
With many of these ideas, you could actually put together shows that encompasses LGBTQ all in one half hour! Not even the mainstream networks have accomplished that yet. (Sorry Modern Family, sorry Will & Grace)
I always thought that the Gay Community was one of the most creative groups of individuals out there, but apparently that must be another stereotype I was unaware of.
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