Figuratively speaking, fall is in the air: Millions of American school children have already returned to their classrooms; trailers for fall’s biggest movies were screening in multiplexes even before the summer box-office behemoth, Jurassic World, opened.
Mall stores are displaying fall and winter fashions, and Halloween Candy packages have already hit many supermarket shelves.
Watching trailers for the new Fall Television Season, launching in September, I’m wondering, what’s in it for us? What will be LGBT inclusive and friendly about the television series that are returning and premiering, over the next weeks and months?
Here’s some of what you can expect:
Just for openers, I’m looking forward to the return of two gay characters, prominently featured in a pair of broadcast television’s biggest hits, both of them rooted in the music business.
Chris Carmack is the DDG (Drop Dead Gorgeous) actor who plays closeted, gay, up and coming Country music star, Will Lexington, in ABC-TV’s Nashville. In love with Kevin (Kyle Dean Massey), Will’s equally DDG romantic interest, I can’t wait to see what develops between them.
Will the love struck Country star come out of the closet, publicly? Or will his volatile, unstable, ex-wife, Layla Grant, (Audrey Peeples), throw him out of the closet, and under the bus? Either way, if Will Lexington comes out, or even if he is outed, will his newly minted star status be torpedoed by Country music’s largely conservative audience? Or will faithful fans accept him for himself?
And that brings me to Empire’s Jamal Lyon, played by the smoldering Jussie Smolett. ‘Mal, as this hotty is more commonly known, is the gay, super-talented middle son of hip-hop Empire mogul, Lucious Lyon (Terrence Howard).
‘Mal is way more talented than Hakeem, his younger, undisciplined kid brother. But Lucious is a homophobe – one who is hell-bent on making his last born, a superstar, even as he relegates his brilliant, gay son to the hip-hop rubbish heap.
In Season Two, we’ll be looking to see if Lucious outgrow his homophobia, or will ‘Mal continue to be a back seat passenger in Big Daddy’s limo?
Yes, I’m thrilled that Will Lexington and Jamal Lyon are returning, and bringing two of my favorite guilty pleasures, Nashville and Empire back with them.
But what’s new and interesting this fall/winter?
The big unanswered question mark hanging over the fresh season is what will be LGBT-inclusive in Executive Producer Ryan Murphy’s new Fox series, Scream Queens? Murphy is the Poster Child for LGBT-friendly television. He’s the openly gay, gay-married TV scion who has already given us Nip/Tuck, Glee, American Horror Story, The New Normal, and The Normal Heart.
Scream Queens, his hour-long Fox series will mix horror and camp. The first season will focus upon serial killings of college sorority girls. Premiering Tuesday, September 22, Scream Queens stars Emma Roberts, Jamie Lee Curtis and Glee’s Lea Michele.
But where’s the LGBT connection? For months, the rumor has persisted that Boone, the series preppy frat boy, played by actor-singer Nick Jonas, will be revealed as gay. But Jonas and Ryan Murphy aren’t saying.
If the rumor is true, then Jonas will make the records book as the first TV actor to simultaneously play gay characters on two television series. The former teen idol is already playing gay as Nate Kulina, a martial arts fighter, on the Audience Network drama, Kingdom.
Rumors aside, here’s what we do know about TV’s 2015-2016 LGBT freshmen:
Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of meeting gay activist, author and media pundit, Dan Savage, in downtown Los Angeles, where he had bicycled to a performance of the annual touring film festival he hosts.
That’s why I’m excited about ABC’s midseason replacement series, The Real O’Neals. Largely based on Dan Savage’s early years, the series follows a seemingly perfect Irish-American Catholic family whose lives are turned upside down after their middle son, Kenny, modeled after Savage, comes out as gay.
But Kenny’s shocking revelation is simply the first O’Neal bombshell to explode. Emboldened by Kenny’s courage, others in the family are soon revealing life-changing truths about themselves. I’m in!
And then there’s the CW’s midseason series, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, an out and proud enterprise, three times over.
For starters, the show comes from out executive producer Greg Berlanti (Arrow, The Flash, and this fall’s Supergirl). What’s more, Legends will have Caity Lotz return as Sara Lance, a bisexual character who died on Arrow, but is now the “White Canary” on Legends of Tomorrow, having been resurrected through the magic of television.
As it that weren’t enough, the series will feature out actors Victor Garber and Wentworth Miller.
Fox, a network whose entertainment division is often as LGBT-friendly as its “unfair and lopsided” news division is conservative, has still “eye candy after all these years,” John Stamos, in a new sitcom, Grandfathered.
And no, the fifty-two-year-old Greek-American god is not playing for our team on his new series. Stamos’s character, Jimmy Martino, described as the ultimate bachelor, is board straight, or could that be, bored straight? What’s of interest here, besides the promise of a shirtless John Stamos, is Kelly Jenrette, starring as Annalisle, Stamos’s lesbian assistant restaurant manager.
Sadly television not only gives, it takes away.
This season, we’ve lost several LGBT-inclusive series from last season, among them, ABC-TV’s Revenge and Manhattan Love Story.
And over at the CW, Hart of Dixie won’t be returning for a fifth season. CBS took a lavender ax to a pair of LGBT-friendly situation comedies: The Millers and The McCarthys. The former had Sean Hayes playing gay again in the series sophomore season, and The McCarthys had a gay son among the dysfunctional children in the riotously funny family.
And, of course, Fox’s gayer than thou, Glee, concluded its highly successful run, last spring.