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 every-where these full times: within our houses, inside our groups, within our politics, and flocking together like tropical birds on our truth television shows.

With regards to television representation, we’re doing much better than before. We’ve got gay wizards, homosexual superheroes and teenage that is gay on our displays. We’ve got trans and sex non-binary characters in several tv shows, such as for example Orange may be the brand brand brand New Ebony and clear. But as heartening because it’s seeing LGBTQI individuals on display screen, showrunners continue to have a responsibility to be sure these figures tend to be more than easy ticks in a field.

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

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

The homosexual friend that is best happens to be a television basic for a long time now. If there’s a lady on TV having intimate problems, you better think there was a sassy homosexual label offering her wise yet advice that is arch. Think Stanford Blatch from Intercourse additionally the City, who had been defined by the hunger that is endless Carrie’s non-stop drama and bad relationship choices. He had been the template for the homosexual friend that is best — 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 be seemingly males too, aided by the few samples of lesbian closest friend handling to fall outside of the traits for this trope. This might be most likely because lesbian presence on tv is a lot smaller than homosexual guys (imagine if Buffy began a trope of lesbian close friends whom like to flay males with dark miracle).

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

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

The situation with this specific trade in stereotypical homosexual males is it implicitly describes exactly what an ‘acceptable’ kind of homosexuality seems 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 viewed as intimate beings. The work of homointercourseual sex remains tip-toed around on lots of tv, particularly 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 closest friend 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 an overtly intimate terminology, this really is the type of homophobia that the GBF trope frequently plays into. It is homosexuality on straight people’s terms, as opposed to real representation of just exactly just exactly how gay individuals reside.

If the just homosexual individual on a show is provided unequal time because of their relationship — or their love life is also addressed due to the fact comic relief, we’re overtly being told that straight people’s love isn’t just more essential, but in addition the standard. We’re being told that homosexuality is significantly diffent, the ‘other’. Both Will and Grace had been the key figures inside their show that is own example — but since revolutionary as that has been at that time — we positively heard more about Grace’s love life.

Too Gay To Operate

This is certainly a trope which have gradually been placed out to pasture, but it is especially interesting to analyse with a lot of programs through the era that is golden of now getting reboots. The SATC that is short-lived spin-off Carrie Diaries had a unique precursor to Stanford Blatch, Gilmore Girls rebooted with a partner for Michel, and certainly will and Grace is on its much too.

It feels like new shows are taking more care in developing new gay characters although I don’t want to be complacent. The club is raised therefore high with gorgeously three-dimensional homosexual figures and their complex homosexual romances in programs like Sense8 or Please anything like me, so it shines a stark comparison on demonstrates that aren’t investing in quite the exact same work.

This present year, Netflix’s new teen-drama Riverdale includes a homosexual character when you look at the blandly handsome Kevin. Kevin ended up being additionally homosexual within the Archie comics from where the show ended up being based, although he had been a belated addition, just joining the gang this year (which obtained the comics a GLAAD prize during the time). But i’m viewing the television type of him like a hawk.

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

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

Everyone’s problematic fave, Girls, in addition has ignited discussion associated with the trope. Though he’s been the topic of critique within the past, Hannah’s closest friend Elijah was handed significant amounts of development into the show’s final periods.

As he had been constantly a go-to for help, bitchy gossip, and coke-fuelled evenings away, he had been additionally offered area to develop through an intricate and complete relationship (with complete on-screen intercourse) also a standalone episode that focussed on a possible job course. Elijah is probably not the primary focus associated with the show — maybe maybe maybe not being among the titular Girls — but he’s definitely characterised as the full and genuine individual with problems and arcs, whom lives outside of Hannah’s issues.

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 our own tales. We’re restricting the worth of y our representation on display, forcing people that are queer impractical moulds. And we’re limiting just how many men that are hot reach see kissing, and that we won’t stand for.

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

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