TV drama gets gay

Chris Azzopardi
By | 2006-12-14T09:00:00-04:00 December 14th, 2006|Entertainment|

Someone’s finally getting it.
As a tickled devotee of “Brothers and Sisters,” the primetime show deserves kudos for its progressive portrayal of a gay man who’s accepted by his family but hasn’t fully accepted it himself. We’ve witnessed closeted old folks. Over-the-top flamboyancy. And the flaming fashionistas.
But Matthew Rhys’ butch and out gay character on ABC’s family drama, which follows the burdens and blessings of the Walkers, seems more in touch with homosexuality than any other show during the past fall line-up. Recently picked up for a full season, “Brothers and Sisters,” which returns Jan. 7, will star thesp Jason Lewis (Kim Cattrall’s “Sex and the City” boy toy) as Kevin’s love interest. He’ll play Chad, a closeted – gasp – soap star, who meets Kevin at an exercise boot camp in the Jan. 14 episode, according to TV Guide.
“Brothers and Sisters,” one of several shows breaking gay barriers on ABC (see very young fashion-obsessed queer boy on “Ugly Betty”), doesn’t shy away from issues that HBO pushed with “Six Feet Under.” In fact, there’s quite a correlation between the two.
Both deal with the patriarch’s death. Both have a homosexual subtext. And both foster the same human emotions that weave into the fabric of our existence. But, where “Six Feet Under’s” gay character was coming to terms with it at the same time everyone else was, Kevin seems a bit behind his mostly liberal kin. His family fosters the kind of love and support, even though Kevin’s gay, that isn’t always reciprocated. His sensitive mother Nora (played by the warm and fuzzy Sally Field) serves as his cheerleader, urging him to bring a date to family outings.
But, where years ago TV advertised gay lip-locks as if we discovered life on Mars, “Brothers and Sisters” didn’t get nailed with the same treatment after Kevin’s wishy-washy beau, a West Hollywood caterer cutie (Luke MacFarlane), came into the picture in October.
Then there was a kiss. And then another.
Upon seeing it, I admit I was taken back. Obviously not because of the lip-lock itself, but because ABC chose not to plug it through a cheesy preview the week before: “Next week, on a special episode …”
As the relationship blossomed and tanked through the first half of the season, Scotty’s out ways forced Kevin to re-evaluate his sexual identity.
Sure, he’s gay, but is he comfortable enough with it? He’s caught asking himself that over and over. While the lovers excavate insecurities in each other, there’s also the class difference. Kevin, who’s a wealthy Orange County lawyer, pulls the prostitute card when he offers him money to come to a family gala after he’s reluctant to give a paying catering gig.
Of course Scotty sees this as more of an issue than Kevin. What waiter, or under-paid person, wouldn’t? Interestingly enough, Kevin’s uber-conservative sis Kitty (Calista Flockhart) plays shrink, urging him to beg for forgiveness after the two separate.
It’s in these moments where politics are put on the back burner and family drives the core of “Brothers and Sisters.” Where the gay person isn’t pegged as a gay person, but someone with depth, someone with issues outside of the expected. And a focus on the all-too-common homo insecurity experienced by many, including Kevin.
That’s why when he had Scotty’s back in a recent episode, it caught me off guard. Kevin threatens to sue his boyfriend’s boss after he says he’ll fire Scotty, who’s caught kissing Kevin while working a benefit that his family is part of. It’s a bold move for Kevin, who’s slowly sinking into his own gay shoes.
But it’s even bolder for a broadcast network. One that’s finally getting gay.

“Brothers and Sisters”
10 p.m. Sundays
ABC

About the Author:

Chris Azzopardi
As editor of Q Syndicate, the international LGBTQ wire service, Chris Azzopardi has interviewed a multitude of superstars, including Meryl Streep, Mariah Carey and Beyoncé. Reach him via his website at http://www.chris-azzopardi.com and on Twitter (@chrisazzopardi).