Even though the time has long since passed when the sight of two women kissing on broadcast TV was considered shocking, it seems like networks are still squeamish when it comes to showing two men kissing.
ABC seems to be especially careful: last season, an entire episode of “Modern Family” was built around a plot where Cameron (Eric Stonestreet) confronts Mitch (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) about his inability to kiss in public. The kiss happened at the end of the episode, though it was more of a peck than anything else.
Also last season, a kiss between “Happy Endings” lazy dude Max (Adam Pally) and a potential suitor played by Max Greenfield of “New Girl” was cut because it “didn’t work,” according to showrunner David Caspe. Even this season, a same-sex kiss was cut from ABC’s soapy hit “Revenge,” essentially for the same reason. While the showrunners took the heat in both cases, readers of sites like AfterElton felt that there was some pressure from the network there, even if it was only implied.
But last night, “Happy Endings” came back from its same-sex-kiss mini-controversy to show that two guys kissing isn’t a big deal. It happened at the end of a plot where Max reunites with Grant (James Wolk), a boyfriend that dumped him last Valentine’s Day because Max was being… well, he was being Max, a guy who puts no effort into relationships because he doesn’t seem to believe in them. But it seems that Max has changed his tune a bit, and he and Grant hit it off once again.
The episode ends with the two of them sharing a kiss in the back of a horse-drawn carriage — how they got to that point, of course, involves a squandered threesome, lots of dental “goof juice,” and a solicitation arrest, but that’s “Happy Endings” for you — signaling the beginning of what will be a fun arc for Max and Grant.
And, you know what? They didn’t build up to it, they didn’t make it a plot device. It was just a story about a rekindled romance, and the story is likely going to be about how commitment-shy Max deals with something resembling real human emotions. The kiss was just a natural occurrence, just like you’d see if one of the show’s heterosexual single characters found a new boyfriend or girlfriend.
Why this kiss “worked” and last year’s didn’t is something only Caspe and fellow showrunner Jonathan Groff can answer. But for now, let’s just enjoy seeing Wolk on our screens and think about how funny Max in a healthy relationship might be. The rest of it is just noise.