Is television Finally Ditching The ‘Gay Best Friend’?

“The ‘gay companion’ trope is homosexuality on right people’s terms. We deserve better. “

Gays! They’re every-where these times: within our domiciles, inside our groups, within our politics, and flocking together like tropical birds on our truth shows.

When it comes 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 characters that are non-binary a few tv shows, such as for instance Orange could be the brand brand brand brand New Ebony and clear. But as heartening since it is seeing people that are LGBTQI display, showrunners nevertheless have actually a responsibility to be sure these figures are far more than easy ticks in a package.

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

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

The homosexual closest friend was A television basic for many years now. If there’s a lady on TV having intimate dilemmas, you better think there clearly was a sassy homosexual label providing her wise yet advice that is arch. Think Stanford Blatch from Intercourse in addition to City, who was simply defined by the endless hunger for Carrie’s non-stop drama and bad relationship choices. He had been the template when it comes to homosexual friend that is best — the Platonian ideal.

George from Julia Robert’s film that is best My Best Friend’s Wedding was another notable person in the GBF (Gay closest friend) vanguard.

They always appear to be males too, aided by the few types of lesbian closest friend handling to fall beyond your traits of the trope. This might be most likely because lesbian exposure on tv is significantly reduced than homosexual guys (imagine if Buffy began a trope of lesbian close friends whom want to flay guys with dark miracle).

The homosexual companion is finally defined by exactly how much of a accessory he’s towards the right protagonist. He’s basically just pulled down for unique occasions, whenever somebody requires an ear that is sympathetic a shopping montage, or simply some gossip in a cocktail club. In Intercourse plus the City’s heyday, the homosexual friend that is best became an indication of status for the cultured, inner-city woman — because important as a couple of Manolo Blahniks or even a Cosmopolitan.

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

The issue with this specific trade in stereotypical homosexual males is the fact that it implicitly describes just just just what an ‘acceptable’ kind of homosexuality appears like — plus in television, that’s defined by what’s commercially viable. Whilst the GBF is inherently bound up in notions of sex, they’ve been hardly ever viewed as intimate beings. The work of homointercourseual intercourse remains tip-toed around on lots of tv, specially commercial systems being geared towards ‘families’. This can even extend to displays of homosexual affection in some cases.

While nevertheless being represented, the homosexual friend that is best becomes concealed behind an outdated pair 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 being an overtly intimate terminology, this really is the type of homophobia that the GBF trope frequently press this link now plays into. It is homosexuality on right people’s terms, as opposed to real representation of exactly just exactly how homosexual individuals reside.

If the just person that is gay a show is provided unequal time with their relationship — or their love life is also addressed given that comic relief, we’re overtly being told that straight people’s love isn’t just more essential, but additionally the standard. We’re being told that homosexuality is significantly diffent, the ‘other’. Both Will and Grace had been the primary figures within their very own show, for example — but since revolutionary as that has been at that time — we surely heard much more about Grace’s love life.

Too Gay To Operate

This really is a trope which has had gradually been placed out to pasture, but it is specially 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 having a partner for Michel, and can and Grace is on its far 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 was raised therefore high with gorgeously three-dimensional gay figures and their complex homosexual romances in programs like Sense8 or Please that it shines a stark contrast on shows that aren’t putting in quite the same effort like me.

This season, Netflix’s new teen-drama Riverdale comes with a homosexual character within the blandly handsome Kevin. Kevin has also been homosexual when you look at the Archie comics from where the show had been based, although he had been a belated addition, just joining the gang this year (which attained the comics a GLAAD prize at that time). But i will be viewing the television form of him such as a hawk.

At the moment, whilst the show shows an enjoyable self-awareness to your homosexual closest friend trope

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

Everyone’s problematic fave, Girls, in addition has ignited conversation associated with trope. Though he’s been the topic of critique in past times, Hannah’s friend that is best Elijah was handed a lot of development into the show’s final periods.

While he ended up being constantly a go-to for help, bitchy gossip, and coke-fuelled evenings away, he had been additionally offered room to develop through a complex and complete relationship (with complete on-screen intercourse) in addition to a standalone episode that focussed on a possible profession course. Elijah may possibly not be the primary focus for the show — maybe maybe maybe not being one of several titular Girls — but he could be definitely characterised as the full and person that is real dilemmas and arcs, whom lives away from Hannah’s issues.

Narratively, it is well well well worth having this variety of romances — by restricting the GBF to a staid supporting role, we’re limiting the range of y our very very own tales. We’re restricting the worth of y our representation on display screen, forcing people that are queer impractical moulds. And we’re restricting what number of 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.