Tony Comstock on Monday. I was unable to attend the event he was to speak at but I did have time to buy him coffee so I got a personalized preview. There's lots to say because I always learn something new when we chat but the extreme distillation is "we need to be positive about sex, all kinds, to everyone." So that's what I was thinking about when I looked for a recommendation for today. (Tony kindly gifted me with some of his films to review so look for those in later editions of the Resource Room.)
You may or may not know that I love TV. That love may or may not be a healthy one. I will watch, for the most part, any fictional programming you put up on the small screen at least once. (Thank you Eastbound & Down, Always Sunny in Philadelphia and anything starring David Spade for being exceptions that prove the rule.) I tell you this to explain why I'm about to recommend two shows and then criticize them.
I have watched every single episode of The L Word and Queer As Folk (US*). Some of you are cheering now, some are weeping.
Facts of Life cast went to Paris, we know it's a bad idea but we love them so we watch anyway.
I still think you should watch these shows. While we continue to work to highlight real, normal sex and real, normal relationships in a society awash in airbrushed, surgically enhanced people play acting their lives for marginal fun and short term profit The L Word and QAF stood front and center to bridge the gap.
The L Word is, admittedly, cast mostly with beautiful people who obligingly have sex that includes surefire orgasms at least twice per episode. As the show progressed, though, they filled in their gaps with different shapes, sizes and sexual identities of people. There were women of different ages, hues and nationalities. There were characters of different life experience and with different goals and, just like in real life, (nearly) everyone had sex. Sometimes I hated it when they did (Jenny, bah!) and sometimes I begged for more (Shane, call me!) but, in the course of (relatively) normal lives we also got to see the sex.
I feel I'm not making my point. Did you ever watch Spin City? OK, so Michael J. Fox's character, Mike, was single and a big muckity muck in the NYC Mayor's office. One member of the large and wonderful supporting cast (Emmy nominated Connie Britton, I'm looking at you), was Carter, a single, gay staffer played by Michael Boatman. Over the course of the many episodes you watched can you give a round estimate to the number of times you saw Mike kiss someone, lie in a bed with someone, emerge disheveled from a bedroom with someone, or even emerge from under/behind a desk with someone? I'm going to just lowball it at 1.5 times per episode. There must have been an episode or two when he didn't do any of that and in a lot of them it was constant. Close your eyes and reflect again on the series. How many times did you see Carter in any of those situations? If you guessed zero I'd agree with you. I'm not putting Spin City up as a shining example of portrayals of hetero sex, either, but it's representative of the kind of sex we usually see on TV whether on something tame like this or a certified edgy series like The Wire (Ever see Omar Little getting it on? I thought not.).
So I'm recommending that we revel in shows that give us a variety of images of romance and sex. The L Word and Queer As Folk broke ground by being such popular shows while focusing on a. homosexual main characters and b. sex. Were they artistically exquisite? Perhaps not. But they were glorious fun, an emotional roller coaster and well worth your time and support. Treat yourself! And give Shane and Brian a little kiss from me.
*I have not seen even one clip from the original UK Queer As Folk. Anyone care to warn or recommend?