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July 25 2008

(SPOILER) Ken-on-Ken in Dollhouse ? AfterElton interviews Joss during the TCA's Dollhouse set visit on the subject of same-sex relationships.

Marked for spoilers for the eventuality of something Joss said in regards to the first 13 eps.

but same-sex encounters is part of the mythos. It comes with the territory.

Aye but will it be men snogging or women snogging? From what I've seen the prime time networks seem to favour the latter. If I see two men kissing I will quite happily throw my cynicism out the window.
With Tara/Willow/Kennedy and Buffy/Satsu Joss has a pattern of seemingly luring in the male audience with an old, reliable trick. We (the hard-core fans) know it's SO not that case, but it must look like that to an outsider. I think if they want to explore that part of sexuality they have to do it with Victor. Echo, on the other hand, would be fodder to exploitation.
Seriously, it's about time Joss got some male-on-male action. I've heard a lot of his gay male fans criticise him for not doing so while making jokes about at their expense. It would be refreshing and nice.

[ edited by Stumpy on 2008-07-25 16:23 ]
As long as it's handled tastefully and not as in-your-face as Russel T. Davies likes to do it, I'm all for it. (As a gay man, I don't mind what Russel does, but he lays it on a little thick at times and I'm pretty sure that turns off the eh... "normals".)

Funny, my auto-quote on the top of the page says "Oh, BALLS." at the moment.
This has been my quiet hope as I read Dollhouse stuff. It's so overdue. And I don't mean for Whedon specifically (although that's a valid point to some extent) but rather for tv drama in general. Tv drama that isn't a "gay" show. Those can be good, but I feel a void for something that isn't on a show targeted toward a gay audience specifically.
I agree with Stumpy. Over half of the Whedon fans I know personally are gay men. I also agree that it should be handled tastefully, and not just done to be done. Regardless, it's a direction Joss hasn't taken before, so on that note alone, it should be followed.
I don't care much whether there are boys or girls kissing, as long as the story is good. :)

Can't wait for DOLLHOUSE. Is it January yet?
There's also a shorter bit on AfterEllen where Joss says male and female characters will have same-sex snogging, er, engagements. Yay!
Stumpy where did Joss make jokes at gay men's expense?
I thought about this, and I have been hoping that the character of Victor - the male doll, will be bisexual. But Joss tends to focus on lesbians/bisexual women, with the gay/bisexual men as joke characters.
I think there will be all sorts of things we'll see from this show. With so many personality changes I'm sure we'll see things from many different angles. The most important thing is for the story to matter. A little eye candy would be just fantastic, but I'd rather have a good story line than sacrifice that just to see two hot people make out. If we're lucky (which I think we will be), we'll get to see both packed into one!
Joss has never made jokes at the expense of gay people. He was completely open in regards to Angel/Spike (see Season 5 commentary), and he never made Andrew, who's quite ostensibly gay IMO, an object of mean-spirited fun. The fact that Andrew is (maybe) oblivious to his orientation is just part of his aloof, childish persona, not a deliberate attempt to rile up the male gay section of the fanbase. Joss himself commented here on the TGIQ diatribe.
I would loooooove to see Tahmoh kiss another guy. Hot!

And yes... it's about time for a gay male relationship--or at least a homosexual male encounter. Joss has been flirting with the idea for years (Xander, Larry, Andrew, Lorne), but hasn't gone far enough, especially considering how much he's done with lesbian relationships.
There was also Larry, early on. A minor character, and we never saw him in a relationship; but his character was written respectfully throughout. There were some funny moments, certainly; but he also got to be heroic--in "The Wish," for instance, he was one of the two students fighting the good fight in Bizarro Sunnydale.
As a gay guy, I couldn't care less to see two guys getting it on any more that I'd care to see a guy and a girl or two girls getting it on for anything other than being silly. (Sexuality can be pretty funny given how some of us see it.)

IMHO, it's not edgy. The sooner it becomes a non-issue with everyone, the sooner it's a non-issue.

However, I do worry about the implications that a person's sexuality is simply from their imprinted memories. That turns it into the possibility of it being a "choice". I can honestly say that, looking back, I can't find anything that tells me I had a choice other than to deny it or not.
Now that's a very interesting and disturbing entailment, TheGamut. Huh. I hadn't thought of that one.
Well, if it's gonna be, it's gonna be Victor. Tahmoh (Paul) isn't a Doll, and is supposed to be Echo's love interest, so.. strange how shipping factions haven't come up for Dollhouse.

As a gay guy, I couldn't care less to see two guys getting it on any more that I'd care to see a guy and a girl or two girls getting it on for anything other than being silly.

Yeah it's not so much the sex part as the emotional part for me. It just seems like this whole area of human experience lies mostly untapped onscreen. Not that the emotion itself is any different. That's actually the problem. Showing almost entirely straight relationships makes it seem like the other combinations are something different. They're not really. But rarely do I see the emotional depth in gay relationships onscreen unless the show's got a "gay" label attached to it. It's past time for things to get more integrated.

I've been pondering the same concern for awhile about orientation being imprinted. But I think the people making the decisions here understand the surrounding social context pretty well. In other hands I'd be more nervous. But it is a very real concern.
TheGamut, That's a valid concern, but isn't the very act of having the memories imprinted on the Dolls suggestive that it's intended to be part of their undeniable nature? It's not like the Dolls themselves are picking and choosing which imprinted memories they wake up with.
However, I do worry about the implications that a person's sexuality is simply from their imprinted memories. That turns it into the possibility of it being a "choice".

I'm not sure this is the case. Isn't the point of the imprinting that the dolls may programmed to do things that would be unthinkable/impossible for them to do if they were themselves? (e.g., fall madly in love w/someone that they might not be remotely attracted to w/out the programming.)
BrewBunny and jcs, It becomes a doubt that any of us are born with a preference if someone who's already "built" (per se) simply gets a new history and becomes of a different sexual preference. As far as I can tell, having a heterosexual history did nothing to change the way I am. I doubt erasing the doubts I had would change anything. I think I'd just end up really confused all of a sudden.

I'm not even sure if it makes sense for someone with a new past who was strictly hetero to become "gay for pay". I feel strongly that some hetero people would never do anything gay for anything.
Like TheGamut, I just want to see a show with well written, complex individuals. As such, I couldn't give a hoot about cramming them with characteristics, for the sake of typecasting them as the token 'Secret agenda here' guy or gal.

For example I am deaf, but don't feel the need to 'see' deaf characters on my screen. Or hear them. (Rimshot!)

Don't get me wrong, I would love to see an openly gay male handled by Whedon. But not if that's ALL he is. I like some substance with my style, and I have no doubts Joss will deliver, and then some.

To tell you the truth, the minute any ONE of these characters gets into a happy, settled relationship, regardless of sexuality... I'm covering my eyes.
I must admit, I hadn't thought of male same-sex storylines in relation to Dollhouse. And that's funny, cause you'd think I'd be one of the first to consider it, yet I have to echo Simon's cynicism and not just about the kissing. If anyone ever did a serious storyline with males like Joss and ME did with Willow/Tara, I'd probably expire from shock.
I just can't see Fox allowing it. Though I was very surprised and thrilled to see an adult and mature reference to a male same-sex relationship in Lost. So if it can happen on ABC maybe there's hope yet.
FOX is one of the least gay friendly tv networks according to GLAAD.

ETA: Better article link.

[ edited by Sunfire on 2008-07-25 19:25 ]
TheGamut, I think I didn't look at the imprinting process as something like a choice in that it's not voluntary from the Dolls' perspective; rather it's something that's imposed on them by a higher power. And in case there was any doubt, I'm not one who believes that sexuality is something that one "chooses" as you would the color of your hair.

As for those who don't think a network would air a male/male same-sex relationship (and not just stunt kissing), what do you make of Six Feet Under? That was a pretty complicated depiction of a gay man learning how to be comfortable living as a gay man at the same time as he was learning about how complicated any adult relationships can be. Sure, it was HBO, but it's one of many signals a cultural change underway.
Simon, that ep of Lost you refer to was written by BKV, if I recall. Very excellent.
The cable networks are a different situation, BrewBunny. See here for some statistics and a discussion of trends.
Seriously, it's about time Joss got some male-on-male action. -Stumpy
I would love to see an openly gay male handled by Whedon. -missb
hee hee ... sexual innuendo is funny. I wonder how Joss would feel about being shipped!

Anyway, I kind of like the idea that the "imprinting" can make one gay. Mostly, of course, that's because I lean toward thinking that sexuality, while not a choice, is not 100% biological either, that it's culturally, socially, psychologically, and ideologically shaped. And, I suspect given Joss's background (liberal arts studies at Wesleyan, etc.), his feminism, and his treatment of sexuality (as rather fluid and situationally-determined and never 100% clear) in his other works, that he sees it that way, too.

Of course, it's also possible that being gay could come up in other ways, too. It's possible that one (or two) of the dolls could find themselves remembering their "real" identities partly because they were attracted to others of the same sex or something. That would make homosexuality so biologically determined that even the imprinting couldn't take it over.
I can't see Fox doing it either. I did have hopes that it would turn up on Angel but alas. And yes, cable networks are way different. Wasn't Queer As Folk on Showtime?

On the other hand, I think one of the daytime soaps has an m/m storyline going on, although I'm not sure which one. Does anybody know?
I'd love to drone on and on about this topic, so many great things to discuss have been raised in this thread, but I'll resist for several reasons, among others a lack of posting time.

It sounds like Joss has come as close as can be to syaing flat-out there will be m/m in Dollhouse but then again, there are manyw ays to take Joss; in water, before meals, in the morning, with a grain of salt, out to lunch, into the rec room, etc. but at face value has rarely been one of them. We'll know what he really means once the show airs.

And well,
"they know that some time they’ll be from each other that is sometimes what humans need from each other they may not admit is in themselves" What does that mean :-)?

"I also think that people’s perversions, like their obsessions, are usually the only true and fascinating thing about them." Ouch!!!!
Interesting read, Septimus. This jumped out at me:

The bright spot on primetime network dramas is undoubtedly ABC's Brothers and Sisters, which in the past year has not only fully integrated the character of Kevin Walker into its central plotlines, but also given him a rich personal life without shying away from showing his romantic relationships in their most passionate or simple moments. Kevin will return this season, as will his recurring ex-boyfriend Scotty Wandell, but perhaps the most exciting development will be the revelation of Saul’s bisexuality, making him the first over-60 series regular LGBT character on broadcast television.

I think the point I'm trying to make is not so much that we definitely will see Fox air a male-male relationship, but rather that we shouldn't be so completely surprised if they do. Attitudes towards gay relationships have begun to change a lot in recent years. Just the other day we had a party in my office to celebrate the marriage of one employee to his longtime male partner, something that would have been unthinkable in a corporate environment 10 years ago. I don't doubt that the broadcast networks are squeamish and more risk-averse than the pay-cable networks, but they're also struggling to keep up with them in terms of "edgy" content, and at the end of the day, programming content will follow the money. Fox is already holding Dollhouse out as a show that pushes boundaries and tests conventional undertandings of personhood and relationships, so who's to say that they won't dip their toe into a male-male relationship plotline, particularly in the context of a show that is set in a reality that is different from our own. Which also explains why Battlestar Galactica can also get away with pushing the envelope on social norms.

Or I could be totally wrong and we'll get stuck with the same old Dick & Jane stuff we're accustomed to. ::shrugs::
The memory of Willow & Tara in the hearts of fans is no doubt a blessing and a curse for Joss. Cool to be recognized for writing a lovely & normal depiction of a gay couple whose impact endures. Tough to be berated for telling a great story that took away one of those beloved characters. Cool to be thought of as the guy who could bring us new gay characters and relationships of substance and worth. Tough to be watched with expectation and graded on this aspect of any new work, in isolation. I'm sure he "gets" why everyone's interested and asking, but I'm guessing he wishes we'd all look at the big picture, instead of the stats, and let him unfurl this new world without a checklist at the ready.

That said, count me in as one who would appreciate seeing more characters who are gay (along with folks who aren't white) in the Dollhouse, because we can all use some diversity in the peeps we adore, revile, root for, fear, look-up to. My vote would be to see them as "the scientist" or "the cook" or "the thug" or "the guy in contracts", rather than "the gay guy" or "the Asian," etc. I have no reason to believe it will be otherwise. Just a simple wish.

And menomegirl - it's As the World Turns that has faced threats and sponsor-challenges for their gay teen relationship. From what I've also read, there has been an encouraging flurry of support from the daytime audience, traditionally considered "conservative." Though, it could just be that soap fans are always looking to see some kissing and some consummating in their "stories," (along with formal attire in the daytime, and some really dramatic fighting.) Which, in its own way, is kind of a lovely agenda-less wish for equality. "We don't care who is doing it, we just wanna see 'em do it." ;)

[ edited by barest_smidgen on 2008-07-25 21:37 ]
It becomes a doubt that any of us are born with a preference if someone who's already "built" (per se) simply gets a new history and becomes of a different sexual preference.

I get that. I guess I'm thinking that the imprint would have to go beyond "creating a new history" to really change people very much at all. I mean, we are born with much of what we are, not just our gender preference. There are lots of things that just changing our life stories wouldn't change, right? I have no idea how they're dealing with the nature/nurture thing, but if Echo is just getting new memories, she should still have many Echo-like qualities no matter what imprint she gets. (I'd think.)
Well, I think that's going to be a big central question/issue of Dollhouse (the whole nature/nurture thing).

I tend to think that it's going to lean towards nurture as being central (hence the reprogramming), but clearly nature is going to be pop up a lot (hence the remembering)...
Thanks, barest_smidgen. I thought perhaps that was the show but wasn't sure.

eta-I know only the bare things about the Dollhouse premise. I'm trying to remain as spoiler-free as I can because I prefer to wait and view that show that way. The only real expectation I have is that it'll be good.

So I'm actually looking forward to two shows this year: Dollhouse and Leverage. Mid-season seems like a long way away. :)

[ edited by menomegirl on 2008-07-26 02:02 ]

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