An odd and mild prejudice has been revealed to me whilst binge watching my latest obsession – I’m late to the party but I am loving Wynonna Earp! – I have found that with perhaps the exception of Curtis in Arrow, there are no male gay characters that I find particularly engaging on television. Even with Curtis, it is the character of Curtis, not his relationship, that I like. When it comes to gay female characters my feelings are completely different.
From Willow and Tara on the best show of all time, Buffy The Vampire Slayer – shut up, it is! – to my present favourite show, Wynonna Earp, – hashtag Wayhaught – television’s representation of lesbianism has always been more, emotionally, appealing than that of the homosexual bent.
At this point, I should probably confess my inappropriate and undeniable love of a character and actress who is almost half my age in Dominique Provost-Chalkley (if she gets married and keeps her name, that will be a real mouthful!) and her character, the feisty Waverley. Along with Katherine Barrell’s dark-eyed police officer, Nicole Haught, they make up one of the most engaging and wonderfully organic gay couples on television, the aforementioned Wayhaught.
It is a testament to the writing, casting, and performances that the relationship works so well in the show. From the moment officer Haught comes into the show, the attraction to Waverley is immediate and obvious. Not that it should be a massive surprise as the creator and showrunner, Emily Andras, was also involved in the sexually fluid and brilliant Lost Girl.
It does beg the question as to why female gay relationships seem to be explored so much better in terms of emotion than their male equivalent, especially as – though this may just be a result of my city myopia – there seem to be far more gay men than gay women. Not that I seek out programmes with gay relationships in them and perhaps as such I have just not seen the shows that reflect the emotional depth that shows I have watched with gay relations – Buffy, Lost Girl, Supergirl, Wynonna Earp – convey.
Even the shows that have embraced male on male relationships, such as Empire, created by the openly gay Lee Daniels, tend to approach male relationships differently, with, in the case of Empire, the gay Jamal character portrayed by Jussie Smollett, very strong and prominent in the show but any partner or hook up he meets being only there to support his character, lacking any true purpose themselves.
Even though Tara and Willow were in Buffy and Waverly and Nicole have irresistible chemistry, it is the portrayal of Alex and Maggie in Supergirl that is my favourite couple. The openly gay Maggie (Floriana Lima) challenges Alex (Chyler Leigh) view of herself, when after years of failed heterosexual relationships, she finds herself, to her surprise, attracted to the streetwise, tough-talking, Maggie. Both tackle elements in the relationship that they have always shied away from, both are similar in that they have erected a wall around themselves, projecting a certain persona, in order to protect their hearts.
Amidst the silly and enjoyable superhero stuff, they more than any other characters, explore the complexities and challenges that are part and parcel of any relationship.
In the landscape of television, much more so than film, there is so much scope for the stories and realities of any and every group to be told and heard. The stories of women, gay men and women and those in the transgender community are being heard and sought more frequently now. For myself, as a British black person, there are still so many stories that are not being told and even in these increasingly multicultural and multiethnic times, few stories that reflect the plight or even normality of the fish-out-of-water scenario that is everyday life for so many non-white or indigenous people in the big city.
Whether this is a reflection of the powers that produce and make programmes or a reflection of the viewing demographic is hard to say, but with so much media and so many platforms to get our stories out there, I am confident that it will and can only get better.