The CW, in its infinite wisdom, has decided that its next comedy will be about a young woman who marries her best friend to get around rules about roommates that would forbid said friend from moving into the main character’s “swanky New York co-op.” And I’ve had enough of fake pop culture gay people.
It as one thing to give us I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, which managed to be about the unfairness of two sets of laws, one that made it difficult for widowers to preserve pension benefits and another that denied gay couples the same rights available to straight ones, while also putting its two somewhat boorish male characters in a position that forced them to sympathize more deeply with gay people and to understand their own gender roles better. This, by contrast, is about maintaining access to a nice apartment, a kind of fraud that doesn’t exactly help the cause of law-abiding real gay people. The characters get a domestic partnership even though New York is a marriage equality state. And it’s a fake lesbian fantasy, written and acted, in this case, by Sarah Rue, who is in real life married to a man.
It’s a lot worse than that still not-great storyline on Community where Britta fancies herself sophisticated for having a lesbian friend without ever actually ascertaining if said friend is gay (which says volumes about how deep that friendship actually is)—only to find out said friend is doing the exact same thing. But they have some things in common. They’re stories that treat gay people and gay rights struggles like commodities, cool and credibility to be appropriated when necessary for wacky storytelling. Fake gay people let straight people try on tolerance without ever actually having it tested. And they push actual gay people out of the frame. Networks and studios can do better. It’s easy to engage with real gay people than to make up eccentric fake ones.