Marisa-Connolly-Homosexuality-on-Television

Marisa-Connolly-Homosexuality-on-Television - Homosexuality...

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Homosexuality on Television: The Heterosexualization of in Print Media By Marisa Connolly Culture, Communication & Technology Program Georgetown University Volume 3, Fall 2003
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3 Introduction He’s single, successful and good-looking. She’s independent, strong-willed and attractive. They’d make the perfect couple, except for one teensy problem--he’s gay, she’s straight. Such is the premise of NBC’s Will & Grace, a half-hour situational comedy in its fifth season that serves two purposes. First, the show attempts to explore a totally platonic relationship between two best friends of opposite sexes. Secondly, the show features two gay male leads with polar-opposite personalities in order to destigmatize the representation of the homosexual man. The show has been one of NBC’s most successful since its debut, garnering both critical and public praise for its portrayal of homosexuality as just another aspect of the lives of the four main characters. However, in order to make a show with such controversial subject matter palatable for the masses, both scriptwriters and the mainstream media have taken to talking about the show’s two leads more like a romantic couple rather than a pair of best friends. For the purposes of this paper, “couple” will refer specifically to a romantic pairing. This metaphor, which plays out on screen in both word and action, also carries over into the language used to describe the show and its characters in mainstream print media. Metaphors that misclassify this relationship can make a television show with a gay male lead easier to digest for the viewing audience, but it can also have negative effects on the inroads the show has made in making homosexuality more acceptable on mainstream television.
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4 This paper will explore the extent to which reviews in mainstream print media reflect the heterosexual undercurrent apparent in . Common representations of homosexuality on television will be explained, followed by an examination of how heterosexualizes the relationship between the two lead characters. Finally, the paper will examine how those metaphors translate into print media, and how that translation affects the viewing public. None of this discussion is meant to demean the accomplishments of as the first vehicle to tackle homosexuality naturally in prime time. However, it is important to evaluate the discourse about an important program such as this one, in order to understand how the public uses old metaphors to make sense of new representations that push the envelope of what has been previously accepted. Background During television’s 1997-1998 season, viewers watched as ABC’s Ellen became the first television show ever to feature an openly gay lead character—Ellen Morgan, played by actress/comedienne Ellen DeGeneres. The actress timed her personal coming out with the coming out of her character amidst an onslaught of controversy, protest and criticism from right-wing conservatives such as Jerry Falwell. Initial viewer and public
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This note was uploaded on 03/11/2010 for the course COMM 103 taught by Professor Dayton during the Spring '10 term at Rice.

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Marisa-Connolly-Homosexuality-on-Television - Homosexuality...

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