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LGBTQ Representation on Daytime Soaps


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2 hours ago, Faulkner said:

Which seems crazy but often happens when you see a broad, diverse community as one thing.


Well on the other hand, if the logic is the community is very broad and diverse so you can't represent it in its diversity, the notion that all that is needed is that there would be *some* representation takes precedence hence the logic here.

We also have, frustrated as we may be, to understand the tough spot they are in. If they have budget for thirty contract players and the number of pairings LGBTQ character can have is necessarily limited, LGBT character have a lower return-on-investment in terms of story for a producer.

So expecting every strand of LGBT being represented is setting the bar unrealistically high.

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Posted (edited)
20 minutes ago, FrenchBug82 said:


Well on the other hand, if the logic is the community is very broad and diverse so you can't represent it in its diversity, the notion that all that is needed is that there would be *some* representation takes precedence hence the logic here.

We also have, frustrated as we may be, to understand the tough spot they are in. If they have budget for thirty contract players and the number of pairings LGBTQ character can have is necessarily limited, LGBT character have a lower return-on-investment in terms of story for a producer.

So expecting every strand of LGBT being represented is setting the bar unrealistically high.

I suppose the premise of “LGBTQ” as this hodgepodge community is what I’m questioning. That one letter of the acronym is interchangeable with the other. I understand it from a political coalition standpoint—strength in numbers—and there’s certainly been overlap in term of cultural spaces, but for the most part, the only thing these letters have in common is that they transgress commonly accepted ideas of gender roles and identities. EDIT: I know they aren’t discrete, mutually exclusive groups. Trans people can be gay, lesbian, bi, etc. as well.
 

But in general I agree. Soaps are broadcast TV vehicles and have to be as broadly appealing and narratively nimble as possible. It’s why streaming services (or smaller cable networks) that can nurture niche-oriented content are so groundbreaking. A gay-male soap on Netflix or Hulu wouldn’t have to cater to a mass audience and could take more risks.

Edited by Faulkner
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I agree with y'all, and I guess that's why I'm easier on soaps and other shows if they don't necessarily get it right. I'm not easy on them enough to still watch or support something I don't like, but I do think that "trying" is worth something. After being excited for a short while, I ended up absolutely HATING Luke/Noah on ATWT and thought they were embarrassing. But other gay men, especially the older ones who'd been watching the show for years and years, loved them. So while they just made me roll my eyes, I understood that they meant more to others. Still wanted that relationship blown to smithereens for something more fun, but y'know.

GLEE. I hated it. But what it did for many gay youth can't be denied. I know that someone will reply that there were other majorly problematic things with the show, but my point is that it served tons of gay kids who otherwise would not have gotten that confidence boost or feeling of community.

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It’s hard. These shows just weren’t built with us in mind. I feel like there was a small window to tell really strong LGBTQ stories in the early-to-mid ‘90s when society had advanced enough to be somewhat inclusive and soaps had become more grounded after their ‘80s flights of fancy yet still had quality and budget.    

These remaining soaps are a lost cause. They are essentially zombies coasting on a mostly conservative audience born before the Kennedy administration. They can barely tell watchable stories about *anything.*
 

Most primetime portrayals don’t even really do it for me. Ryan Murphy has been an absolute scourge. The best screen depictions of gay men for me have always been movies like “My Beautiful Laundrette” and “Happy Together” and the rare TV series like the British version of “Queer As Folk.” (Hope the new one set in New Orleans can approach that quality.)

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23 hours ago, FrenchBug82 said:

I suppose this is a question whose answer is probably going to be in the question but has there ever been any discussion for why all the AIDS stories soaps did impacted straight women (AW's Dawn, AMC's Cindy, Y&R's Jessica, GH's Robin) rather than gay men?
Did they think this would be more sympathetic to their audience than gay men who "might have deserved it" or something? 
What I mean is: I assume that's the case but has there ever been anybody who discussed this oddity openly?

 

 

Wendy Riche spoke about dealing with the network when she wanted to tell an AIDS story before the Labine had decided on Stone and Robin. She had gone to the network about having A.J. Quartermaine contract the disease from a situation that would leave people asking who slept with who. Of course, it's also rumored that Marland intended for Hank Eliot, not his lover Charles, to die of the disease. In both scenarios, there is definitely a concern about perpetuating a stereotype that gay men are promiscuous. 

 

Here's the transcript from the Riche interview on WeLoveSoaps:

 

Quote

Riche: “I wanted to do a story about AIDS when I first got to GH.  AIDS was on the rise, a non-discriminating disease that didn’t care who it attacked.  I felt it was an issue of great importance and wanted to find a way to interface many of the characters of Port Charles with the hospital.  At first, I thought it could be a story for A.J. Quartermaine.  I thought, what would happen if A.J. had another drunken night in college, one of many, and explore what would happen when a friend, a male friend, from college shows up at the Quartermaine mansion wanting A.J.’s help since his family threw him out because he had AIDS.  And A.J. doesn’t remember who had sex with who, and what he did during so many drunken orgies.  They could have both had sex with a woman who was a drug addict. The intention was not to make them gay, but the implication might have stirred up a lot.  We could have asked, “Why does everyone care so much if he was gay? Why does he care? How would Edward Quatermaine react and what would Lila do to bring the family back together?”  We could have looked at it all.  But it wasn’t about being gay, I didn’t want to be, “Oh those gay people, of course they screw around so much…” of some B.S. like that.   AIDS is a non-discriminating disease, it doesn’t care who you are are or what your sexuality is.  If you do stupid things, have unprotected sex, you risk getting it.  If we had done it with a gay character we would not have gotten the message of urgency across.  So the intention was to have a smart person who was not gay but made stupid choices get AIDS.  I didn’t have Claire at the time, and I don’t know if Claire would have even wanted to do it that way, but the network did not want to do that story. They didn’t want A.J. to be in question of having AIDS, or maybe not being 100% heterosexual, they just didn’t want to go there because he was a Quartermaine, which of course, is exactly why I wanted to go there.

 

I'm watching a bit of 1995. There is a scene that I watched, before seeing this more recently, where A.J. shows up at the gatehouse and crashes a girls' night with Brenda and Lois. I believe the purpose of the scene is for Ned to walk in and be upset that A.J. is meddling, but there are moments where I feel like A.J. enjoyed just dishing the dirt with the ladies and that the show was testing the waters at pre- "Will and Grace" dynamic between A.J. and the ladies. It's entirely possible I completely misread the scene as well. 

 

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2 hours ago, All My Shadows said:

I agree so much.  Glee might not have been for everyone, and it was wildly uneven, but there is an entire generation of kids that watched this show and either were gay or learned empathy towards characters and were able to be open about it.  Even in troubling areas.  I read somewhere that at one point during the show, might have been a GLAAD media report, that the show was responsible for an explosion of gay/straight alliance programs at public schools across the country.  That kind of visibility means something.  Even if it was not always the right kind of visibility.

Edited by titan1978
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18 hours ago, j swift said:

With all due respect, this is my pet peeve when it comes to audience responses of gay storylines.  It is all up to writing, directing, and producing.  Even the most wooden, (but handsome), actor would seem sexually alluring with the right lighting, music, and scenery.  While it would be good for the cause to hire more gay actors to play gay parts, we want out gay actors, not people who are don't take pride in being gay.

 

The opposite logic makes no sense.  Did anyone say that Maureen Garrett's sex scenes with Michael Zaslow were any less "intensely horny" because the actress was a lesbian?  Was Michael Corbett not a believable object of straight female lust on three different shows; SFT, RH, and Y&R (and appeared in Playgirl) because he was gay?  Has nobody ever heard that most adult gay media has used straight models for years in gay scenes?  

 

To suggest that an attractive actor can't turn an audience on while kissing another guy with dark lighting, sexy costumes, and some slow grooving music unless he is gay in real life is absurd, naive, and a bit narrow minded.   I used your comment as an example, but the same silly ideas are spewed on these forums, as well as gossip sites and other internet venues, and it never ceases to heighten my ire.

 

That's not my point. We all know how much of daytime is gay, and how many of them very, very capably sold hetero love scenes for decades. But there was an edge to those scenes that I very rarely see. If you disagree, fine.

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11 hours ago, dc11786 said:

If we had done it with a gay character we would not have gotten the message of urgency across. 

 


That line says so much about how America treated the AIDS epidemic. If it is just the gays, what's the big deal?
She is paraphrasing the sentiment obviously, not endorsing it. But this dovetails with what I suspected in my question. That it would be hard for America to care if it happened to a gay character.
Very interesting interview. Thanks for digging it out. I am not sure her idea was such a good idea, personally. Considering there weren't any gay character, I am not sure the first introduction of anything LGBTQ related to the show being a drunken (no-consent) unremembered college-party-related (see the trope about experimenting but he will change his mind) potentially leading to AIDS orgy would have sent the right message. In so many ways.

 

11 hours ago, Faulkner said:

These remaining soaps are a lost cause. They are essentially zombies coasting on a mostly conservative audience born before the Kennedy administration. They can barely tell watchable stories about *anything.*


The fact soaps are written conservatively to appeal to the remaining conservative audience and the fact the remaining audience for conservatively-written soap is conservative would seem to be a pretty chicken-and-egg vicious circle.
We don't know if there would be an audience for stories about gays and minorities and progressive tone because they haven't tried and anytime they dabble they freak out and back down. My personal theory is that there is a huge dormant audience for that stuff out but they don't take the risk to try and appeal to it.
There is no reason soaps abroad can be thriving while dying here. The structural issues like streaming and stuff are the same in Europe than they are here. Something these producers should ponder.

 

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On 4/10/2021 at 10:41 PM, j swift said:

Also, (with even more respect of your opinions) I reject all arguments that the reason soaps don't produce well rounded LGBTQIA representation is because they are afraid of online criticism by gay fans.  Soaps have won GLAAD awards and gained popular media exposure for doing the least amount of representation possible. 

 

The same argument would never hold water when applied to other types of minority representation. Black and Latinx fans would not accept poor examples of their culture played out on screen and neither should gay soap watchers.  We should always strive for more respectful portrayals of our experiences and we should never accept the idea producers don't demand gay characters because they are afraid of backlash from the LGBTQIA community. Gay fandom has never received the respect we deserve and our loyalty has never been rewarded with proper consideration of what we want in terms of plotlines.  60 years later, networks still only care about 18-34 women who buy laundry detergent, but that doesn't mean that the gay audience should just take the scraps that we're given because we still get some entertainment value out of the occasional shirtless hunk or bitch fight.

 

I feel like my statement didn't go through appropriately. I said that producers may see a lose/lose situation if they produce a gay storyline, that may not initially be popular with their viewers, and then get criticism from the same audience that they are trying to court because it's not "enough" or  is not "executed in the right way". Instead of acknowledging that there are many different ways of expressing sexuality, instead there is a mortarium on the gay experience and what should be shown on screen, that has to pass a purity test that is extreme in that even the most well liked soap character would never pass. There is a reason why a lot of gay characters aren't allowed to be messy, and it's because they want to do right with a positive portrayal, but eventually that winnows down story-telling opportunities. 

 

As such it may be seen from a producers point of view as being more trouble than it's worth. That's arguably different than casting minorities and taking a color blind approach to casting similar to Grey's Anatomy and Shonda Rhimes practices of increasing diversity by number if not necessarily by practice or cultural cognizance. Even that form of diversity has been under fire recently, with many minorities expressing that Shonda's way of increasing diversity if "flawed" or "performative" and doesn't go deep enough. So that's another aspect that is being challenged on the race/ethnicity front. Doing a one to one comparison with being LGBTQIA and being an underrepresented minority is not a one to one thing, when it comes to the conversation of representation.  

 

You mention GLAAD, but I also believe you are elevating GLAAD's response, which is limited. GLAAD is a body that can provide awards/recognition, but it doesn't exactly bring in revenue. GLAAD is more a marketing aspect of "acclaim" than something tangible that means something to production companies and television networks where ad revenue and Nielsen ratings are the be all end all of audience sentiment and popularity. Getting a GLAAD award would mean very little if soap audiences rallied against the story in question and if even LGBTQIA+ audiences hated the story. Again, a lot of squeeze for little juice. Add to this fact that in a world of cutting costs there are only 20 or so open slots where characters can be on contract and seen, and how a same-sex character limits romantic storylines (a bread and butter for soaps) and this is why you likely get producers, brass and network executives questioning the return on investment from such characters, and why you only get a landmark gay character every half a decade (Bianca, Luke, Will, Lucas, Oliver, Kristina, Paul, etc.).

Edited by Skin
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Posted (edited)
14 hours ago, FrenchBug82 said:

There is no reason soaps abroad can be thriving while dying here. The structural issues like streaming and stuff are the same in Europe than they are here. Something these producers should ponder.


The difference has always been and will always be daypart. Even in the UK, the daytime soap Doctors gets peanuts in comparison to the primetime heavy-hitters. Emmerdale didn't get a whole lot of attention in the 70s until it went primetime at the end of the decade (I want to say 1978?).

 

When looking at structural and institutional strength, I think a more apt comparison would be between UK soaps and something like The Simpsons, SNL, or Law and Order SVU. Those shows are chugging along on their past glory, and I think everyone involved (cast, crew, fans - everyone) knows that the best days are behind them, but they're doing well enough to keep going. You can do that in primetime, where a hit show can be a mainstream press item for years and years and years. Daytime soaps were mainstream for what, 10-15 years? The popularity soaps had in the 90s is long gone, and they have absolutely nothing to rest on anymore - nothing that will push them to be better and call them out when they are not.

 

I've said it for years, but literally no one cares about daytime. It sucks because daytime once thrived on its own success with its own canon of hit shows, stars, and customs. It didn't try to be primetime because it had its own identity, and being daytime was not a bad thing. Mainstream popularity and approval was not needed because daytime people approved of daytime. I guess when everything blew up in the 80s, the thirst for being "mainstream" drowned out the satisfaction with being its own entity, and now we've just had to deal with crappy attempt after crappy attempt to win back that mainstream attention that really seemed to initially come along by chance rather than by design.

 

I almost want to compare soaps to anime. I don't watch anime, never have, really know nothing about it, etc. But people who know and watch anime, really know and watch anime, despite it being a completely foreign world to someone who's never watched. That's basically the position soaps are in - except anime's popularity is way way wayyyyy more widespread.

Edited by All My Shadows
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13 minutes ago, All My Shadows said:

I almost want to compare soaps to anime. I don't watch anime, never have, really know nothing about it, etc. But people who know and watch anime, really know and watch anime, despite it being a completely foreign world to someone who's never watched. That's basically the position soaps are in - except anime's popularity is way way wayyyyy more widespread.

 

I remember someone used to compare soaps to comic books, and I agree with that statement. They have a long history and canon that just dwarfs that of typical television series. Soaps have 30-40-50-60 years of history and continuity that they have to keep straight, and they often can't. Which is why they play fast and loose with the rules. The problems soaps have, are the same problems comic books have had for awhile now. 

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3 minutes ago, Skin said:

 

I remember someone used to compare soaps to comic books, and I agree with that statement. They have a long history and canon that just dwarfs that of typical television series. Soaps have 30-40-50-60 years of history and continuity that they have to keep straight, and they often can't. Which is why they play fast and loose with the rules. The problems soaps have, are the same problems comic books have had for awhile now. 

Yes, that's a better comparison because of the longevity factor. Comic books, and even just the daily newspaper strips. I remember being a kid on the internet and learning how detailed the history of For Better or For Worse was, down to characters aging as the strip went on for 25+ years, new characters coming in and out, dramatic storylines, etc. If you don't know that that world exists, you're just shocked when you discover it. I'm starting to see that most of my friends who are my age feel the exact same way toward soaps. We're just old enough to have grown up with grandparents and others who watched, so they'll always mention how so-and-so is "still" on the show, but they really have no clue the magnitude of the genre.

I'll never forget when I was in my high school US history class, we were learning about the early days of radio, including soaps, and my teacher (a man I truly loved and admired and is the reason why I now teach high school history) said that GL was "the first soap" and that Y&R had began on radio. I tried to correct him, but he assumed I didn't know what I was talking about and even tried to one-up me by mentioning Edge of Night, I guess bc it had been off the air for over 20 years then and clearly my 16-year-old self had never heard of it. Truly hilarious because I was spending so much time here on SON and at WoST at the time. Of course I knew Edge of goddamn Night, bruh. But my point is that this man, who was in his early 50s and literally grew up through the heyday of soaps as niche entertainment then mainstream and was a history teacher, was adamant that Y&R had begun on radio in the 1930s. It's ludicrous for us to even think about because we just KNOW a million reasons why that makes absolutely no sense. But literally anyone else under the age of 40 would have never questioned it.

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On 4/11/2021 at 1:33 PM, dc11786 said:

 

Wendy Riche spoke about dealing with the network when she wanted to tell an AIDS story before the Labine had decided on Stone and Robin. She had gone to the network about having A.J. Quartermaine contract the disease from a situation that would leave people asking who slept with who. Of course, it's also rumored that Marland intended for Hank Eliot, not his lover Charles, to die of the disease. In both scenarios, there is definitely a concern about perpetuating a stereotype that gay men are promiscuous. 

 

Here's the transcript from the Riche interview on WeLoveSoaps:

 

 

I'm watching a bit of 1995. There is a scene that I watched, before seeing this more recently, where A.J. shows up at the gatehouse and crashes a girls' night with Brenda and Lois. I believe the purpose of the scene is for Ned to walk in and be upset that A.J. is meddling, but there are moments where I feel like A.J. enjoyed just dishing the dirt with the ladies and that the show was testing the waters at pre- "Will and Grace" dynamic between A.J. and the ladies. It's entirely possible I completely misread the scene as well. 

 

It would've been better had it been Hank since he had developed friendships in Oakdale. Didn't we see Hank's lover in one episode with Hank holding his hand in the hospital? Or am I mistaken?

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On 4/10/2021 at 10:56 AM, Soapsuds said:

Paul is such a tease.. Lol

 

YouTube took down their love scene. It was flagged as  inappropriate.. Sigh

When did they air?

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