I remember a time when Lucy and Ricky Ricardo on the still popular in syndication “I Love Lucy” TV show couldn’t even sleep in the same bed. In bedroom scenes the series would show them in separate twin beds next to each other. Of course that was shot in the 1950’s and our sense of modesty as a nation was much more strict.
Fast forward to today and turn on the television, especially cable, and what can be seen now might have constituted as pornography back then. Topless scenes and simulated sex are quite common these days and ride the thin line of soft-core porn. Of course this isn’t particularly surprising for cable channels like HBO and Showtime where even regular series push the envelope of what can be shown. Shows like “Game of Thrones,” “Boardwalk Empire,” “Masters of Sex” and others, almost compete to see how much they can show.
But interestingly, even network television has evolved drastically in this area compared to where we were a few years ago. Even on networks like ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX and The CW, there are many cases of bedroom scenes and simulated sex scenes that leave little to the imagination. Although still not as racy as cable, it's still clear that we're a long way from the twin beds of Lucy and Ricky.
But this is what progress looks like I suppose. One area that definitely has changed with our shifting standards of what is acceptable is how gay relationships are depicted. I don’t remember seeing gay relationships portrayed in an outright way growing up. There were gay characters on shows, but usually they were spoken of as being gay, or caricatured, but you never saw them in relationships. Shows like ‘Will and Grace” and a few others moved that forward by featuring gay characters. And there was Ellen DeGeneres’ failed sitcom where she was an openly gay character. But again, these shows did not show them openly loving partners as they did straight characters.
My oh my, have things changed for the better. Today not only are there a number of main gay characters on network TV, but their relationships and love are shown as fully as they are for heterosexual characters. “Modern Family” features a married gay couple and treats them as a normal part of the family, as normal goes for that family at least. Shows like “Scandal” and “The Good Wife” go so far as to show gay couples in bed in steamy simulated moments of passion, the same way they do with straight couples.
Of course this level of openness coming from Hollywood doesn’t sit well with some folks. One recently publicized online spat popped up on Twitter when a member tweeted to Shonda Rhimes, who is the creator of “Scandal” and “How To Get Away With Murder” among other shows. Both shows feature gay characters and do not hesitate to show their relationships in all their glory.
A woman tweeted to Rhimes:
“@shondarhimes the gay scenes in scandal and how to get away with murder are too much. There is no point and they add nothing to the plot.”
Rhimes, to her credit, responded back:
“@DAbdelhakiem There are no GAY scenes. There are scenes with people in them.”
Perfect response. Especially since I am sure that tweeter, and the many others, do not have issues with the relationships of the straight characters and showing them as fully developed people. Not surprisingly, they only have issues with the gay characters.
Yeah, we have indeed come a long way since the 50’s. And I for one am so glad to see it. Television has gotten a lot closer to reflecting the real world. I am looking forward to when it goes even further.
Photo Credit: Wiki Commons