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12 April 2012

Conflicting Depictions of Gay TV Characters

I've been following the NBC sitcom Happy Endings this season. The series is ahead of the curve in many ways, such as by including an interracial married couple and the character Max Blum, played by Adam Pally. One of the six central figures on the show, Max is gay but runs against stereotype. He is pudgy, enjoys playing video games and watching sports, dresses poorly, and is generally a slob. Here is a clip of Max in action:

Max's romantic mishaps are often part of the episode plots, but his sexuality is otherwise not central or emphasized in the way that homosexual characters' identities have been in other series (cf. Will & Grace). Max is endearing and is a major factor in my enjoyment of the show.

Enter Derrick.

Derrick, played by Stephen Guarino, is stereotypically flamboyant, and his eccentricities are played for comic effect. Case in point:

It's deeply upsetting that a single series could give us progress in a character like Max and then snatch it back with a character like Derrick.

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