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December 07, 2006



well remember on crime shows they are ususally showing criminals and bad folks. It is a good thing they did on this Cold Case though I missed it. Still it would be more significant if they showed the regular "heroes" cops, detectives, as gay with relationships. But on the other hand, to make the story line more interesting they usually mess up the heroes lives and relationships as well.
For example, that more than handsome hunk on Law and Order, Special Vicitms, has split with his wife and children, and is now making a play for his female partner.

On "The Wire," there is a good competent lesbian police officer. But I think there might be a twist in store there. I have only seen the older DVDs.

But the main point I want to make is that I believe that there has been at least one more TV episode showing two gay men in a favorable light. I just can't remember it right off the top of my head.

I don't watch the show, but I have to say that I'm particularly impressed with the fact that there was no special promotion for this episode. No attempt, as far as I'm aware, to make it into a controversy.

As I write this, of course, I wonder whether there's anything to be impressed about, and whether the network executives expressly forbade extra promotion in order to avoid controversy. But I suppose they could have just killed the episode entirely if that was their motivation. And they didn't.

I wonder if it's difficult for people to understand what a huge thing it is for those of us who are gay or lesbian to see ourselves portrayed realistically in the media, and how devastating it is to be symbolically annihilated or twisted into some kind of joke or perversion. As a lesbian, I am always looking for media that depict us in ways other than the stereotype of soft porn girl-on-girl titillation or the man-hating, predatory, straight-girl-recruiting bulldyke. And by the way, I'm tired of lesbian cops. Show me a lesbian ballet dancer or opera singer or nurse or school teacher--I have known a few of them! There is so much variety among us, and that is frequently hidden in favor of the tired cliches.

James, thanks for describing the show and your reaction to it. Please let us know when it will be on again.

Jodi, I agree it would be better to see gay characters in regular roles on these shows, as cops. Unfortunately, that doesn't seem very likely. The only cop show that had a regular character who was gay or bisexual was Homicide, with Tim Bayliss, whose interest in men was depicted as something that ended up causing him pain and ostracization. Then there was a lesbian on NYPD Blue, but her lover was gunned down and then she left the show.

In this case, having this character in only the one episode worked, because viewers got to see the way he lived his life, and what a waste his death was. That type of path, and his relationship with Jimmy, are more likely to cause viewers to question their negative opinions of gay people or gay relationships.

"ER" has had some good stuff for the past two or three seasons, including a lesbian major character (Dr. Weaver), fairly frequent episode plots involving gay characters, and a new ongoing storyline about a character's college-age half-brother coming out. They explore a lot of legal/custody issues in an illustrative way that you can't get from soundbite political discussions, and the characters are as real and normal as any other.

I used to watch ER. I thought the Carrie storyline was written somewhat heavy-handedly back at the time it first started, but I do have a lot of respect for Laura Innes. I'm glad to hear the show has had some positive moments for gay characters.

"I wonder if it's difficult for people to understand what a huge thing it is for those of us who are gay or lesbian to see ourselves portrayed realistically in the media, and how devastating it is to be symbolically annihilated or twisted into some kind of joke or perversion."

Oh God, it's extraordinarily difficult. One side says, "Why are you complaining? You've got Will & Grace!" and the other side says, "Why do you need to get validation from a TV show??" I have never, ever, in my life, ever identified with anyone from "Will & Grace". Even if I did, one TV show out of hundreds isn't saying a whole lot. I don't expect validation from any form of media. But that doesn't mean that I don't react when I finally get to see form of romance and tenderness and subtlety and love between men. I know that there have been some damn good shows with gay romances, like "Six Feet Under", but that was a niche show, and as much as I loved Keith and David, I always felt a little cheated that we never saw how they met or fell in love.

When you spend most of your life hearing that two men together (or two women together) is sick, and perverted, and you will go to hell, and you realize that your heart wants to be with a member of the same sex, with another man, then it does feel good when a major program acknowledges love between men.

"As I write this, of course, I wonder whether there's anything to be impressed about, and whether the network executives expressly forbade extra promotion in order to avoid controversy. But I suppose they could have just killed the episode entirely if that was their motivation. And they didn't."

I do wonder if they hid this, but I'm not all that sorry if they did. The crime shows on CBS have a very weird way of pushing progressive ideas. The CSI shows, the ones that get the attention, are conservative on most issues, but the other shows that are produced by most of the same people and fly under their banner, like Cold Case, Without a Trace, and Numb3rs, are not as conservative. CC and WAT have both pushed more progressive beliefs and attitudes than most of the critical pets like Studio 60, or Lost, etc. It's a shame that the show is so underrated, yet if it were more praised, then there'd be more scrutiny...

I hope I haven't overrated this episode to the point where people will eventually watch and go "What the hell was the fuss about? This sucks." Please remember that these are just my personal feelings and I'm not trying to say this is the best hour of television ever.

bc, you make so many good points, by the way.

I agree the initial Carrie/custody storyline on ER was rather heavy-handed, but now that they've gotten past that and have this established, out character, it's been quite a bit better.

Thanks for the perspective and heads-up, James. I have missed your writing.

I’ve always seen the role of John Irvin on "NYPD Blue" (played by Bill Brochtrup) as subversively positive, overall. There were times the character of John could be considered stereotypical. There were just as many times that the character played against stereotype with male heterosexuals, and done in such a way as to be part and fabric of the characters and storylines, not as a PC balancing act.

It was interesting to watch all those NYPD characters grow in believable ways. It never came across as instant conversions, just bit-by-bit understandings and unveilings.

Here’s a link and some info for those of us that want to see this episode.

Cold Case
"Forever Blue"
Episode Number: 79
Season Num: 4
First Aired: Sunday December 3, 2006

Thanks for commenting. I always thought Brochtup did a great job with the part, but from what I remember, that storyline was usually more about the straight characters learning tolerance (they even had a story where Sipocwiz had to save John from his abusive boyfriend) than about John himself. I do think that type of storyline is important, but at some point I want to see something beyond the noble straight people helping the poor put-upon gay man.

Another thing they had in the episode that I didn't mention much in the article is that Coop was a Vietnam veteran, and they had a shot at the end of Lily looking at a photo of him from Vietnam. That was such a small little way of reminding people that there are plenty of gays in the service. I really appreciated that.


I haven't watched Cold Case (or any other TV) in the last year or so due to sheer lack of time; but when I did watch CC, I was always impressed with, as you say, James, their overall progressive values. They consistently aired episodes with sympathetic portrayals of gays, as well as other marginalized groups. Kudos to them for taking another step forward. I'm sorry I missed the episode; if you do find any clips, please let us know.

bugsy, the whole point of the show is someone gets killed in each episode. He did get killed, but the show sent a message about how pointless his death was and how much worse the fate was of those in his life who went on without him. Hopefully someday more shows will have positive gay characters who live, but they ain't on TV right now.

Leslie, thanks.

The Cold Case kiss is up at Youtube for this second.


I recently posted the full episode on my blog, kurblickDOT blogspotDOT com.

Or rather, I uploaded it to Megauploads and posted a link. Basically the same thing.

Yes, yes, isn't the gay lifestyle so wonderful that we should all emulate it. Gays are smart, sexy, witty, and funny on TV. Reality check. Most are confused, high school drop outs spreading diseases and misinformation. Have a field day with this message. I am sure the truth will send you into a frenzy.

James: thank you SO MUCH for uploading the episode so that we poor slobs who don't watch network TV very much (cause we're snobs, that's why!) could see it, and save it to our own hard drves.

Someone should tell CBS that the first song in the show is "Daydream believer" sung by the Monkees, and not "Happy Together,"--which isn't in the show at all.

I have nothing to add to your wonderful revieew--except to say thank you, and I'm gradually developing a grudging admiration for CBS. Friends and Freedom.

This is perhaps one of the most beautifully and poignantly episodes ever done on Cold Case. Way back in the first season, in the episode "A Time to Hate", they had also dealt with a homosexual theme where a gay college baseball player was burtally murdered by street punks in a hate crime. (The episode featured future Superman star Brandon Routh as the love interest.) That was also very well done and made Cold Case's relevance and stock rise very high in my eyes. I am joyful and gratified that they have done it again, better, with this episode.

This impression about homosexual people is nearly non-existent, that most are not sociopaths with screwed up lives or smart and witty and fabulous, but most are just ordinary, normal and average. While this has been said so many times that people don't raise an eyebrow anymore, I'm not sure that most straight people who utter it truly understand what it means.

James, I understand perfectly how you feel about this episode, even if you cannot describe it in words, something that I am unable to do either. It's a commiseration that comes only between people who have been through the same type of experience, and it is almost impossible for someone who has never been through it to comprehend or even appreciate. And how can they? Yet gay people are not seeking understanding or pity, and for the most part would not be resentful about this. I think this mutual understanding makes bonds between gay friends and couples particularly strong. This statement is not meant to make any kind of point about how special gays are, because the point is that we are not more or less special than the next straight person. This is just one of the few bittersweet by-effects of the unfortunate pressures and ostracism that our society has imposed on a specific group.

This episode, therefore, is significant and heartfelt to many gay people because the representation and perspective comes closest to their lives and hearts than most experiences they've known.

I'm tempted here to repeat Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech, but I shall desist. Suffice to say that I too, dream for such a day.

P.S. The primetime ABC drama Brothers and Sisters do feature a gay main character, and is pretty well written, though I do think that it sometimes veers a little close to gay stereotypes. In the BBC drama Torchwood, a spinoff of Doctor Who, the main character is bisexual and in one episode even falls in an ill-fated attraction with another man. Clips can be viewed on Youtube.

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I did NOT write the comment attributed to me in response to the initial review of Cold Case "Forever Blue" December, 2006. It adds nothing to the original review,and I have never watched the additional TV shows mentioned. I couldn't have written it if I wanted to.

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