NBC

How To Get Away With Half-Hearted Representation

How To Get Away With Murder is taking the US television scene by storm in the new season. However, its fresh take on legal drama is not what’s drawing unique attention. Instead, the uber-conservative cross section of American viewership is up in arms over the ‘controversial’ depiction of passionate gay sex scenes.

It’s utterly absurd that such a programme would obtain censure for what can only be defined as a truthful narrative of how some same-sex pairings engage in intercourse. It’s long been a taboo on television for same-sex affection to be portrayed on equal-footing with heterosexual intimacy. While it’s true that representation of LGBT+ characters and couples has been growing on the American TV scene since the 1980s, it is still lagging far behind with its tackling of physical love. The bold moves to allow Ellen Degeneres’ character to come out on her self-titled sitcom, which then led to gay couples appearing on more recent series such as Glee and Modern Family have helped normalise gay issues but ultimately there is still a large portion of the gay lifestyle that remains discriminatorily alien over the dread of a polemical storm.

Controversy… HTGAWM’s Connor has sex

I suppose you could even be excused for thinking, given the relative success of the latter two shows that LGBT+ acceptance has sky-rocketed to near equal echelons to that of heterosexual couples on the small screen. But that’s hardly the case, while there is a much fairer representation of gay characters on television than ever before, their active sexuality, the only thing that really differentiates them from any other character is fundamentally constrained or regulated. Particularly on American television, homosexual intimacy is generally intimated rather than actually shown. How To Get Away With Murder neglects that tradition and does illustrate indelicate gay sex scenes. And, all too tritely some people aren’t happy about that;

As it happens, these racy gay sex scenes are the same as any we’ve seen with straight couples from US TV shows for years and years. On the big four networks in the States; Fox, ABC, CBS and NBC, we’ve seen numerous TV shows in recent times represent zesty sex; Melrose PlaceGossip GirlScandal and even Friends to name just a few. And that’s just from the top networks, taking others in to account you can add Game of ThronesGirlsMasters of Sex, Sex and the City and the US version of Shameless to the list too. This racy heterosexual content is never perceived as problematic to the viewer as it would be if it was homosexual – and we supposedly live in a tolerant time. I notice that nobody complained about the oral sex scene between a male and female in How To Get Away With Murder‘s pilot episode, or the repeated raunchy sex scenes between straight pairings, but did so when a man kissed another man’s back. Maybe you think that niche programming like The L Word and Queer as Folk should encompass all the gay sex we see on television but is that genuinely representative of modern life?

Inconsistent… Viola Davis’ character’s oral sex scene went largely uncriticised.

It’s even the case with British television too. Just this year on popular soap EastEnders, they introduced a reticent and reserved gay character who flitted from gay character to gay character, as if corresponding sexuality alone is adequate enough to forge a partnership in the LGBT+ sphere. It’s certainly not archetypal of the plural attitude we’ve come to expect of modern media. Come to think of it, does television ever depict confident young gay people on television? Other than Glee’s Blaine, I am struggling to think of one. Homosexuals are as diverse a social cross-section as any but TV seldom reflects that, it seems that most people think as long as gay characters are not being harassed or attacked with bigoted vitriol then they’re being represented equally, but this minimising view is simply not true and simply not enough.

Believe it or not, gay people have sex as zealously as straight people. It’s not good enough to have heterosexual sex shown to be as passionate as network regulators will allow and then relegate homosexual intimacy to passing inference. Television has a crucial part to play in changing culture and should be the driving force to rid gay sex of its taboo label. People may not enjoy watching same-sex pairings go at it on screen, the same way some people won’t appreciate opposite-sex scenes but it’s vital we treat both alternatives on a storytelling par. Any problems viewers have specifically with depictions of gay sex are carrying around an unharnessed homophobia. Television is supposed to mirror life, and sex is as big a part of life for gay people as it is for heterosexuals. Any problem a viewer has with that is their problem and certainly not that of the scriptwriters at How To Get Away With Murder. Of course, if it has become that pertinent an issue, they could always change channels instead of trying to slow the rate of progress to match their own parochial regime.

Advertisements

My favourite things

This blog is completely pointless and narcissistic but I feel like I moan a lot in my posts so I thought I’d share the things I really like and give them a bit of praise.

TV Programmes

“Shut up, I win”… Modern Family is my all-time favourite TV programme

1. Modern Family
Okay, maybe I’ve praised this show enough but then again, I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of gloating about just how good this programme is. Its brilliantly observed  social commentaries, combined with impeccable writing of various types of humour make it a refreshing change from the average US sitcom. It’s already a classic and easily my all-time favourite TV programme.

2. Friends
Given the fact, I’ve spent my entire life watching re-runs of this show on E4 and now Comedy Central, it would be unfair not to have this among my favourites. Unlike Modern Family, it is a typical US sitcom, it’s just a lot funnier than the others.

3. How I Met Your Mother
Funnily enough, I was sceptical of HIMYM when I first heard of it. I assumed it would be a less-funny ode to Friends. And in all honesty, Friends is funnier but HIMYM’s interesting spin on the plot of an average US sitcom and it’s brilliant gimmicks make it stand out from the rest.

4. Desperate Housewives
I don’t even know why I liked this programme so much. It’s just so interesting, a perfect blend of drama and comedy that’s oddly relatable to every day life. At times, it is completely over-the-top and unrealistic but that can be forgiven when you consider it at its best. If you only watch one season of this show, make sure it’s season one.

Films

The force is with Star Wars… my all-time favourite films

1. Star Wars saga
Being honest, I’m not a big film person. Obviously, there are loads of films that I like but few that really stand out. Other than White Chicks and the Lion King, I struggled to think of anything that could compete with this, so it stands alone. Regrettably, I haven’t seen many of cinema’s modern classics (something I intend on correcting every summer but never do). Anyway, Star Wars is the ultimate sci-fi saga. I spent a lot of my childhood being obsessed with this franchise, meaning I have something like 20 lightsabers stored underneath my bed. It really is a great film, and yes the original trilogy is far better. It still shocks me that some people have never seen these films… and I hate them for it.

Albums

“‘Cause this is Thriller. Thriller night!”

1. Thriller
This is simply put the best album ever made. Featuring so many of MJ’s classsics including Thriller, Billie Jean, Beat It, P.Y.T., Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’, The Girl is Mine and Human Nature, you can see why it’s the biggest selling album of all-time and my favourite.

2. Aim & Ignite
Okay, Fun. burst on to the chart scene in Spring 2012, with their hit “We Are Young” taken from their second studio album, Some Nights. While, that album is superb and only just misses out on a spot in the top 5, Fun.’s lesser known predecessor is even better. It’s melodic from start to finish with brilliantly crafted songs and lyrics that really make you think. It’s a shame they didn’t get much recognition for this album too.

3. Fearless
I don’t really care about the stigma attached to picking a Taylor Swift album as one of your favourites. I have a quiet love for country music and she has a well-known talent for song writing. In all honesty, I could have selected either Speak Now or Red to join the top five too but this album is just about her best.

4. Songs About Jane
When you were young, every family had that one album that you played in the car non-stop, every journey. This was ours. It really is brilliant.

5. Rumours
Again, a worldwide recognised classic. My love for this album probably again stems back to my quiet love for country and guitar music. It features many of the bands classics and is hard not to like. Although, funnily enough when I first heard this album, I hated it.

It’s worth noting, these are also my five favourite artists. Honourable mention to S Club 7 for providing the soundtrack of my childhood and yes, I still have a cheeky  S Club party every now and then.

Holiday destinations

Bude-iful… My favourite holiday destination

1. Bude
Ideally, an average looking seaside town in Cornwall is not the place you want to go on holiday. It’s mostly for personal reasons that I’ve picked this as number-one. Nearly everyone has a holiday destination their family goes to often. Bude is that for my family.

2. Los Angeles
Most people say LA isn’t as good as it’s hyped up to be. But it really is, the climate, the people and the sights are all incredible. It’s a place you simply have to visit.

3. San Francisco
San Fran is a great city of diversity, it has such a varied nature to it, there are rural areas, coastal areas, Skegness-esque areas and big city areas. Accompanied by the climate which is great too, it’s a must visit. In fact, if it weren’t for the USA’s gun crime problem, the San Andreas fault and its proximity to Yellowstone, I’d move to California in a heartbeat.

4. Canary Islands
Particularly Gran Canaria and Tenerife, these islands are wonderful, just off the coast of Africa, it is always hot and just a great place to be.