Ellen was always tone deaf to her support base, but you'd know that if you were in the industry, so it had zilch to do with W and G success.
Also, while W and G had Jack as our totally out fun gay, they had both W and G to act as our central core couple/notcouple who were uncomfortable in being themselves and funny as they tried to avoid who they really were (e.g closeted but conservative (like my gay brother in NYC)) and straight but clutzy).
Also Karen, she brought an outrageous slant to everything.
This is a fascinating deep-dive into gay TV history. I love it, loved Matt’s similar plunge into Soap a few months ago, and hope he writes more like this. Write a whole book, Matt!
@2: Agreed, Matt does great work with this material. I'd never previously seen any mention of the MIT research.
After we voters in Washington State enacted same-sex marriage in 2013, I marveled at how rapidly attitudes had changed. In 1996, Republicans 'welcomed' Ed Murray to the Washington State Legislature by staying in-session on a Saturday afternoon to ban the already-illegal gay marriage. (I was a gay-rights activist at the time, and manned a table on Broadway that sunny afternoon, asking passers-by, "Is your relationship alright with the Republicans?") Democrats agreed to let it pass, because if it did not, anti-gay bigots had promised to put the marriage ban on the ballot. This was not an idle threat: anti-gay ballot initiatives in Oregon (Measure 9) and Colorado (Amendment 2) had provoked terrorist violence against gays and supporters in those states. As Ed Murray himself noted at a district meeting in Seattle that year, only the most radical of gay activists even wanted marriage. He spent most of the next twenty years advancing gay rights in Washington States, eventually even getting the marriage ban reversed. It's interesting to consider how a silly sitcom on NBC might've helped in that effort.
Again, thanks for writing this, Matt. I second the book suggestion @2.
And a third, write the fucking book! Somewhere in the 90's I ditched the t.v. and never saw an episode of w&g or friends, seinfeld, but you definitely have the writing chops and perspective of an interesting topic. Well done!
That show is as dead as the Golden Girls except in post-life the Golden Girls are still freakin’ Hilarious and more gay funny than “Will and Grace” ever will be!
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