Monday, May 3, 2010

The Pitch - Gay Detective Show

During dinner I was thinking about how many procedurals on TV rely on certain gimmicks, but what really brings viewers back to watch week after week are the characters and their relationships. One of the most popular elements of such television shows is the sexual tension between the two leads (Bones, Castle, Moonlighting, Remington Steele). And in many of these shows, the jumping the shark moment is generally when the leads get together (Caroline in the City, Friends, X-Files). Then I thought about how some shows don't necessarily pair leads of opposite sexes (Law & Order, Numbers, Two and a Half Men). But why wouldn't it be possible to have two guys or two women gradually gravitate toward one another and possible fall in love?

The idea I have thus far is rather amoebic, and hasn't been thought out too far. A show about a detective agency like Remington Steele would provide a solid, tried-and-true backdrop. Perhaps the show could be like Simon & Simon, but instead of being brothers, they're not, plus they're gay, but that's not evident from the beginning. I don't think their sexual inclination needs to be a driving element of the show, particularly early on. In fact, I'd rather have it appear as though each of them may be straight. Or maybe just one. Either way, they'd be drawn closer together through common interests and goals, finally realizing near the end of the series that they really do love each other and want to be together forever.

I can understand why some people might be bothered by this. A lot of people would say they might watch a show like this. But while realistic depictions of homosexuality have been increasingly accepted by television viewers, it has been done somewhat through humor at gays' expense. Will & Grace was a hugely successful show with gay characters featured prominently. However it still smacks of gay blackface in much the same way The Big Bang Theory is comedy as nerd blackface. If the show weren't couching itself in humor, such a relationship could prove to be too much for the average audience to handle.

I can't imagine any network progressive enough to take the risk of putting a show like this on the air. It wouldn't get past the pitch phase, and even if the show was produced without the network explicitly knowing where the creators wanted to take the show, it's doubtful they would approve. However, especially if written well with likable characters, why would sexual orientation have to be an issue? As long as it's compelling, responsible television and not meant to be spectacle, it could prove to be a touching premise in the end. And if they still want to pass, Xena did it. They might have been women, but they were pretty masculine women. Note, I didn't use a comma after "pretty."

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