I feel like streaming has done a lot of good here to carry the flag of the above shows and push things forward, with series like Sense8, High Fidelity (with Zoe Kravitz as a sexually fluid lead), Special, Dear White People, Transparent, Orange is the New Black, and dozens of series that most of us may not know but are waiting for discovery. The ability to narrowcast programming, without pressure to please a broadcast-size audience, has been sooo beneficial. Network TV isn’t even close to doing a good enough job, primetime or daytime. (The CW had been making some strides in recent years.) Cable at least has dramas like Pose, but they could be doing more, beyond the Ryan Murphy stuff and Killing Eve, etc.
I’m curious about the sexually fluid idea for soaps. It would definitely open up the number of available partners a character could have (the advice to be “not too specific,” so that any character could be anyone’s brother or sister or lover).
But a lot of us mention that the secret between Kyle and Theo on Y&R should have been that they were lovers, instead of the banal stupidity about drugs and girls that it ultimately became. Would the blue hairs in the audience have accepted Kyle with Summer and Lola with the knowledge that he banged/got banged by a dude? No. 1, the writers don’t have the luxury of setting that story up properly (patience just isn’t a thing that soaps value these days), and No. 2, they’ve struggled so hard for years to find a youngish male lead who clicked with the audience, which Michael Mealor has done, and they don’t want to “taint” him with risky storytelling. Especially when they felt they ticked that box with Mariah, which they’ll pat themselves on the back for but won’t really invest in. (I know they also did it with Adam, but his sex with Rafe was a homophobic attempt to show how much of a sociopath he was, which only made his “rescue” by Sharon’s love more appealing.) I think soaps feel much more comfortable creating fluid female characters, and we have all of two of them on daytime (Kristina on GH and Mariah).
Soaps have always also done LGBT stories with characters under 40. The few major exceptions have been psychos (Nora’s serial killer husband on OLTL and the dude Lucinda was dating who was creeping on Luke on ATWT). I sort of get it, because they’re using LGBT stories to pull in younger viewers, but it feels like a missed opportunity. There’s so much richness in the lives of older characters.