There is a lot of excitement over the recent increase in representation of queer people on TV and in movies (mostly gays and lesbians, really can't say there's been a lot of screen space given to bisexual people or trannies or anyone else). I am excited about some of this too, others of the representations I am pretty skeptical of, however. In general I have been more impressed by well-rounded portrayals of gay and lesbian characters in dramas about other topics than I have been by shows specifically about gay men or lesbians.
For instance, last night the boys and I watched about 4 episodes of "6 feet under" and I was REALLY impressed by how the storyline with the gay main character, David, is handled--REALLY impressed. They show his struggles with self-esteem, coming out, homophobia inside and out, the toll it takes on relationships...REALLY well. And they make him human and flawed and make some REALLY dumb mistakes, but at the same time they show him as doing his best against some pretty oppressive odds, and in general it strikes me as a very realistic, caring portrayal of the kind of guy he is--someone who grew up in a very conservative WASP environment and is struggling with being gay in such a climate.
Also, while being gay is shown as being integral to his life, it's not The Reason He is There, if you know what I mean. He's a main character and being gay is just one interesting thing about him, he's not "the flaming designer who does great one liners" or something.
I also like Dr. Weaver on ER and her whole plotline, though I have mixed feelings about the baby plot. I mean, it is always way cool to see lesbian moms on TV, but christ, it's starting to be like The One Acceptable Thing for lesbians to do on TV!!
I also have mixed feelings about "Queer as Folk." When I first saw it, it was revelatory, but that feeling wore off after enough straight friends started trying to peg "which character" I and all the other queer people in my life were, LOL. In general I think that show has done a pretty good job as a first effort, but its shortcomings (no bisexuals, no one anywhere on the trans spectrum, pretty much no people of color or people who look like anything other than a coverboy for Instinct, centered around clubs and that whole scene) highlight directions further programming about gay men could go.
I haven't seen "The L Word" and if what I am hearing about it is correct, I probably won't make a huge effort to change that.
On the other hand, I HATE "Queer Eye" passionately. Just hate it. I really don't think it is breaking any new ground. It's not going anywhere Mr. Humphries has not already been with a lot more wit and humor. And, like Mr. Humphries, the shortcoming is that people outside our group end up just seeing us as Funny, they don't get the self-parody--they're laughing AT us, not with us.
Anyways wow this is a huge topic, I alone could probably write 4 books about it, but anyways, I just want to know what people think:
What do you like about what is out there right now?
What do you not like?
If you made a show about gay men/lesbians/bisexuals/transgender folk/queer life in general, what would it be like?
If you could write a queer character or five into existing shows you like, what would they be like?
What are the feminist implications of all the gay men and lesbians on TV being "pretty" in a conventional sense? What are the implications for queer culture?
I'll come back and answer my own questions in a minute.