When “Younger” debuts its seventh and final season on April 15 on Paramount +, Nico Tortorella’s Josh will have left his mark on masculinity, says the queer nonbinary actor and activist.
“Josh is a straight bro, right?” Tortorella told Pride Source about his fan-favorite character, who’s more in touch with his feminine side than the average straight guy on TV, during a new candid conversation. “But he’s so much more than that. And it has been such an honor to bring that character to life. Just to see Josh cry. We need to see more men cry.”
While reflecting on creator Darren Star’s show, which debuted in 2015 on TV Land, the 32-year-old Chicago native said, “I’m excited for the future of masculinity in general, the ways in which art can expand that notion and just the collapsing of binaries and divisions that exist in everything.”
The “Scream 4” star told Pride Source they see signs of that imminent collapse.
“I’ve had people come up to me, specifically men, who will say, ‘Ah, man, my girlfriend watched the show, and I started watching it because it was on…,’ because they can’t admit that they started watching this show without them, right?,” Tortorella said. “But they found truth in this character and these storylines. And that’s just chipping away at the work that is being done and needs to be done.”
Most recently, Tortorella has been changing the landscape for LGBTQ+ representation by playing Felix Carlucci, a gay zombie slayer on AMC’s “The Walking Dead: World Beyond.” In the show, a “Walking Dead” spinoff that takes place 10 years after the initial zombie apocalypse, the lives of a group of people who represent the first generation to come of age post-apocalypse are examined.
“We need more queer superheroes!” Tortorella said, emphatically, during the interview. “This is just the tip of the iceberg.”
They added that, “There are so many ways in which Felix could have been written or could have been played. And there is a brute masculine force to Felix that is opposite, potentially, of what we would come to expect from a queer superhero. Then underneath that is this just fuckin’ raw emotionality and heart.”
In the past few years, LGBTQ+ superheroes have been popping up everywhere on the small screen. Matt Bomer plays the openly gay Larry Trainor, aka superhero Negative Man, on HBO Max’s “Doom Patrol.” Nafessa Williams plays Anissa Pierce/Thunder, who identifies as lesbian, on the CW’s “Black Lightning.”
Even Batwoman has been revealed to be lesbian on the CW show. After appearing on the Arrowverse crossover episodes as Kate Kane/Batwoman, actress Ruby Rose played Batwoman for the show’s first season. (The new Batwoman, Ryan Wilder, will be played by Javicia Leslie.) And Nicole Maines’ role as Nia Nal/Dreamer on the CW’s “Supergirl” makes her TV’s first trans superhero.
Certainly, Felix and these other LGBTQ+ superheroes show a newly seen onscreen strength for queer characters. But the next step? Continuing to have LGBTQ+ characters written as matter of factly as everybody else.
“I’m excited for a future where we don’t rely on the violence that queer people experience in order to tell their stories,” they said. “I wanna just see queer people go to the grocery store. I just want to see them live their lives in ways that other characters have been written.”
Read the full interview with Pride Source here.