Were ‘One Life To Live’s Jokes Insensitive?

by | February 7, 2011 at 3:33 PM | Deep Soap

One “Life To Live’s” Surprisingly Homophobic Humor

A year ago, “One Life To Live” was the most gay-positive show on television, including “Glee.”  It featured a mass gay wedding, a straight woman pretending to be lesbian to improve her chances of being elected mayor, because apparently the gay vote is key in small, wealthy mainline suburbs of Philadelphia.  Kyle (Brett Claywell) and Fish (Scott Evans) were a wildly popular couple who shared daytime’s first gay male on- camera sex scene.  These storylines coincided with a drop in the show’s ratings, and were quickly concluded.

That does not explain why, out of the blue, last week’s episodes featured a plethora of borderline homophobic lines.  It began when Bo (Robert S. Woods) and John (Michael Easton) were questioning Mr. Black and Mr. Blue, the “Reservoir Dogs”-obsessed thugs who beat up Robert (David Gregory) and installed a hidden camera in Aubrey’s (Terri Conn) hotel room.  When one of the men claimed that he and his partner in crime were on their way to a PTA meeting, John snarked, “Okay, do you guys have kids together? Which one’s the mom? I think it’s you. Get the hell out of here.” Snark on the obvious lie, or what lousy parents they would make, there was no need for John, who was so supportive to Fish when he came out to the rest of the police force, to take a dig at their relationship. The implication was that calling Black and Blue gay was a huge insult, as well as that gay men are effeminate. I was, at that point, hoping that there would be a twist and Black and Blue would in fact turn out to be as committed to each other as they were to doing Clint’s dirty work.  Hey, gay people can beat up Fords and set up surveillance equipment just as well as straight people!

Instead, it was just the beginning of Homophobic Humor Week in Llanview.  Wednesday, Todd’s (Trevor St. John) initial comment to the drunk Vimal (Nick Choksi) at Rodi’s, “Since when did this place become a gay bar, anyway?” made sense given that they were watching Rex (John Paul Lavoisier), Joey (Tom Degnan) and Cutter (Josh Kelly) perform an impromptu striptease to the strains of Right Said Fred’s “I’m Too Sexy.”  Even though their girlfriends were watching, it was the least plausible soap bachelor party activity since the 1990s episode of “All My Children” that involved the men of Pine Valley wearing toilet paper wedding dresses for a bachelor party fashion show.  I swear this actually happened even though I cannot find it on YouTube.

However, Todd then put his arm around Vimal and said, “Hey, I’m talking, and it’s like you never listen to me anymore,” and proceeded to play the rest of the scene like they were dating. It was typical obnoxious Todd, but it left a bad taste in my mouth.  I guess that straight men witnessing other straight men take off their clothes temporarily “turns” them gay. Ha, ha, ha.

Then Thursday, when Starr stopped by to visit John, a shirtless Brody (Mark Lawson) answered the door.  He had spent the night at John’s place in deference to the tradition that the groom not see the bride before the wedding.  Though Starr is the cousin of the bride and presumably knows all about the wedding, Brody felt compelled to clarify, “No, no, it’s not what you think. We’re getting married…To Jessica and Natalie, not to each other.”  Yes, because Brody surely was worried that Starr would assume he spent the night before his wedding having sex with his soon-to-be-brother-in-law, and the scandal would be that he slept with a guy, not that he was cheating on his fiance.

Maybe I’m just being hyper politically correct. I realize that these are relatively innocuous remarks. Had I not watched three episodes in a block, I might not have noticed. I am confident that all of the dialogue was supposed to be funny, not offensive, and that given the pace of daytime production, it’s possible that the fact that three jokes about straight men being gay aired in three consecutive episodes went unnoticed. It’s also possible that a couple of the lines were ad-libbed. These are certainly, unfortunately, the sort of jokes that are common in real life particularly among certain macho men. But OLTL is a show that has won numerous awards from GLAAD. Headwriter Ron Carlivati is openly gay. I hold the show to a high standard on this issue. During a week in which “General Hospital” managed to sensitively handle the topic of male prison rape, OLTL’s lapses were all the more disappointing.

Must See Programming For Soap Fans

If you are a fan of “The Bold & The Beautiful,” you should re-watch the webcast of the celebration in honor of the show’s 6000th episode today, February 7th.  B&B streamed the festivities in their entirety live from its soundstage. Click on www.boldandthebeautiful.com for more.

Wednesday, Oprah is featuring “Legendary Soap Stars.“  “General Hospital’sTony Geary and Genie Francis, AKA Luke and Laura will appear together.  Until Laura returns to Port Charles, it’s the best fans of daytime’s iconic couple will get. “All My Children’sSusan Lucci will also be appearing with all of Erica Kane’s husbands.  Back when she was merely a talk show host, not the most important person in entertainment, Oprah used to feature soap stars all the time.  She even made a cameo on AMC when she was a local reporter in Chicago, so her fun fangirl side should come out.