What a year it’s been for queer couch lovers. We’ve had the good (mega-Emmy-Award-winning Angels In America), the bad (Playing It Straight) and the almost-ugly (thankfully, Pauline Hanson did not win Dancing With The Stars).
Mainstream staples like Neighbours and Survivor dived right into the lesbian world in 2004, presenting sane, healthy and together characters with lesbian lives. Six Feet Under, languishing in a too-late timeslot, continued to lead the way in depicting realistic gay men.
All-gay, all-the-time TV also took off this year. The L Word, the first series to feature an almost totally lesbian cast, became this year’s second most scandalous program. For all the wrong reasons, of course. While Channel Seven struggled to get the lesbians on TV on by 10:30pm week in and week out, Christian action group the Saltshakers led an intense letter and email-writing protest against advertisers. Although the Shakers claimed victory in the form of responses from several companies, all advertisers were quick to distance themselves from the organisation when the story hit the papers.
Oddly, the most scandalous program of the year was one that usually avoids such titles -“ ABC children’s show Play School. When Sydney couple Vicki Harding and Jackie Braw appeared with their daughter Brenna in a short segment in which Brenna referred to the pair as mums, the Christians went crazy. And so did politicians, with both John Howard and opposition leader Mark Latham agreeing these were inappropriate images for such young children.
They obviously weren’t watching SBS import Oz, which gave a dedicated collection of viewers unprecedented amounts of hot gay prison sex. Oz -“ which was so old by the time it made it to Australian screens it had already been axed overseas after six seasons -“ gave the world full-frontal images of Chris Meloni, and some of the dumbest dialogue ever.
More vanilla gay images abounded in all of the staple shows. The Queer Eye boys got a bit boring, but not boring enough to put Channel Ten off the idea of creating its very own Aussie version. Queer As Folk got stuck into some serious issues, and Will & Grace was as camp as ever.
But two little shows gave viewers the year’s best gay characters. Little Britain’s Davyd, the only gay in the village, and Simon Marchmont from the ABC’s Posh Nosh were both camp, horrible and completely hilarious.