Welcome to The GBU, a weekly column coming every Monday where I look at the Good, the Bad and the Ugly on TV.
With the recent prominence of gay bullying, teenage homosexuality has
been everywhere on TV. Some shows treat the issues with the respect that
such a complex issue deserves, others throw it in just for ratings, and
others remove any sense of reality from the equation.
Here's the Good, the Bad and the Ugly of gay teens on TV.The Good: Jesse on In Treatment
The best show you're not watching is HBO's fascinating psychological drama In Treatment
. Every week there are four episodes (two on Monday at 9pm, two on Tuesdays at 9pm) that follow therapist Paul Weston as he treats his patients. This season's breakout star is Dane DeHaan as Jesse, a gay teenager struggling with serious identity issues relating to his adoptive parents and the return of his birth mother.
Jesse is as complex and three-dimensional a character as you'll see on TV, and while his homosexuality is an issue, it's not the only one. He's a deeply flawed, deeply troubled kid. DeHaan's performance is anxious, in-your-face and fearless, and if you want to see teenage homosexuality handled in a thoughtful and realistic way, In Treatment
is the show you need to be watching.The Bad: Teddy on 90210
For starters, Teddy's sudden homosexuality this season doesn't completely make sense with everything we've seen him do before. But I'd let that slide if they handled his storyline with respect. Instead, he's a background character who only appears in every other episode for one or two bland scenes. The result is a coming out story that's gone on for so long that I don't even care about it anymore.The Ugly: Blaine on Glee
First, I'm in no way commenting on the attractiveness of Darren Criss. He's handsome and talented, but my problem is that Kurt's new gay BFF is just a little too perfect. Glee
wants to address serious issues about gay bullying and tolerance, but the message becomes mixed when viewers are expected to laugh at a character one minute, feel sorry for them the next, then laugh at them again.
What makes Blaine's storyline on Glee
so ugly is how overly simplistic and pandering it is. He's nothing more than a fantasy, the perfect gay teen who is good-looking, incredibly talented, confident in who he is and full of sage advice for others. He's flawless and his only function is to be Kurt's gay Yoda, helping him navigate the difficult waters ahead. It makes sense that Blaine was introduced singing Katy Perry's "Teenage Dream" since that's what he is, and if Glee
wants to address real issues, the show can't do it with fantasies. (Images courtesy of HBO, the CW and FOX)