Saturday, July 5, 2008

A KISS AIN'T JUST A KISS

To quote the title of a 1978 Loretta Lynn hit, we've come a long way, baby. Tonight I watched an episode of The New Adventures of Old Christine, one of my favorite shows with one of my favorite TV actresses, Julia Louis-Dreyfus. It was the conclusion of a two-parter in which Christine's best friend, Barb, slept with Christine's younger brother, Matthew. Shocking? Not so much. Since the days when Ally McBeal had a black boyfriend and their different skin colors was never even mentioned, biracial romance has become common TV fodder. Coincidentally, Christine had her own white-on-rye fling with her son's teacher, played by Blair Underwood. The part that had me picking my jaw up off the floor was a dream sequence (actually, two dream sequences) that ended with Christine making out with Matthew. Say what? Incest as comedy? Now I'm no prude, but color me thoroughly astonished.

TV is certainly not what it used to be. I remember a "very special" 2000 episode of Will & Grace that ended with Will kissing Jack--no tongue included. Two women kissing (as long as it's two beautiful straight women) has long been acceptable. After all, isn't that the fantasy of every straight guy (including the ones who run the TV industry)? But two men? How scandalous it was at the time!

Times, though, are a-changing. There was an episode of Grey's Anatomy last season in which a brain tumor patient, a soldier, was visited in the hospital by a fellow soldier, and they suddenly started kissing. Let's also not forget Anatomy's building lesbian storyline between two non-bombshells. And tonight's episode of Christine ended with another dream sequence in which Christine's ex-husband, Richard, smooched Matthew. Afterwards, I watched an episode of According to Jim in which an airport cop accused Jim of soliciting sex with him in a public restroom and then proceeded to hit on him. Ten years ago, such a scene would have been drenched with homophobia, but I loved Jim's nonplussed-but-uninsulted reaction and the way the situation was laughing with gay people, not at them.

Being in Buenos Aires, I'm a bit out of the loop when it comes to Hollywood controversy, but I don't believe there was an uproar over any of this stuff. Ellen Degeneres recently said that one day people will look back on the time when gays were not allowed to get married in the same way that we now look back on the era when women were not allowed to vote. At the time, I thought, what wishful thinking. But maybe she's right.
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