The first weekend of Outfest, I decided to spend Saturday afternoon at a TV panel where the writers of some of the shows with gay characters (and most of them gay themselves) would talk about how TV comedy writing has changed to embrace gay characters over the past 25 years.
The panel included six writers with some extensive credits (Modern Family, Glee, Will & Grace, Family Guy, Frasier, Nurse Jackie, Roseanne, Gilmore Girls, etc), two women and four men. They actually represented a pretty good cross-section of experience – the women spoke about how most television is written by men, one male panelist spoke about his contract on one show requiring that he and his writing partner stay in the closet, while the others exclaimed that they couldn’t believe that! etc etc. They got into the nuances of writing gay characters and trying to write for the overall show while paying attention to being honest for the gay audience. It was pretty insightful.
There is always an elephant in the room for me, at these events. Where are the butch/less than femme/other queer gals? Why is no one writing them? The panel started with a great montage of queer moments in TV comedy: Billy Crystal on Soap, Roseanne‘s lesbian kiss, and a clip from the upcoming The New Normal (from Glee’s Ryan Murphy), to name just a few. I was excited that in The New Normal, the scene they showed had a lesbian couple cuddling their baby while walking down the street. One of the lesbians was butch (!!! Julie Goldman, of course) and the other was kind of heavy. Both were in plaid shirts. (see them in the trailer here at 50sec) Great, right? I go in search of alternative lesbians, and I find them, right? Sort of.