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Dear Showtime:

by Jeremy Hooper

Picture 5-187We appreciate your commitment to LGBT visibility. We really, really do. However, before you greenlight another gay-centric show, we hope you will take a few notes into consideration. Here goes:

(1) No more Vancouver stand-ins. Either fork over the extra cash to actually shoot on location, or just set your series IN VANCOUVER. For locals who know the supposed city being represented, the false scenery is jarring. But even for those who aren't intimately aware of the intended setting, the obvious attempts to use establishing shots and tricky camera angles to mask the surrogate scenery leads to a subconscious disengagement. Sometimes the viewer can't even pinpoint it -- but they know that something about the show looks and feels wrong.

(2) Place a premium on rich storytelling, not on shock value. It'd be unfair to say that rich storytelling was lacking in shows like "Queer as Folk" and "The L Word." But it's very fair to say that the sensational elements were sometimes ratcheted up to a 10, while subtle slice-of-life stuff was notched down to a 2. We totally get the need to be exciting, or even titillating. But balance is very important. This is especially true when telling stories about communities that constantly battle their oppositons' attempts to sensationalize them.

(3) Ensure that someone on set is focusing on certain issues like continuity and consistent characterization. On "The L Word," the sudden dropping/ altering of characters was so apparent, many of the actresses joked about it in last night's finale special. Also, complaints regarding the show's continuity issues were constantly on the tips of annoyed "L" fans' tongues. Sure, these sorts of gaffes/misteps can make for another level of campy fun. But next time, we would love to see a show that lets us focus on what's going on rather than why a human being was so integral to daily life on one day, then never again discussed on any day thereafter.

(4) If a certain plotline is used and reused again, please address it. On "L," the writers' constant reuse of a "trust issues" meme was apparent to even a passive viewer. Look, we get it: Relationships sometimes end in broken trust and infidelities. And the threat of the same do weigh heavily on some lovers' minds. But COME ON! Some people really do fall in love and stay there. Some people really do have a relationship defined by confidence, not concern. There are other foibles and pitfalls that can make for rich, dynamic storytelling.

(5) While there is an obvious and valid need to stick to your vision, there is also a need to listen to viewer reaction. The actors and creators can tell its audience over and over again that a certain character is dynamic and their story compellingly told. However, if most every blog, fan site, podcast, and fangirl you come across begs to differ, you might want to stop and rethink that particular arc. Sometimes things just don't work. When they don't, a responsible show admits that -- and then proceeds to come up with a rational way to turn said arc around.

(6) Don't hire a name actor and then woefully underuse them for six years. Yes, we are talking about Pam Grier here.

(7) Please don't build up a story line for an entire season and then suddenly wrap it up in ten unfulfilling minutes. The "All About Adele" story was the crux of season five. Then, in that year's finale, all was pretty much forgiven, nothing was really explained or concluded, and by year six, Adele was long back in real Los Angeles. That is but one example.

(8) Building on the prior note: If you're going to play Lesbian Clue (a show we would TOTALLY watch, btw), then you have to open the case file for us at season's end. It's fine to have loose ends -- life has loose ends. But you can't build an entire season around a specific question and then leave it wholly unanswered in the most oddly unsatisfying of ways. This takes advantage of your audience.

(9) Now for some good: Busting up stereotypes, playing dress up with high fashion and styling, having the gumption to go to imaginative places, possessing a willingness to take risks, casting appealing actors, telling nontraditional stories, hiring actual community members to produce a show about a certain community -- all great! Keep it up.

(10) Hire us for the next gay go-around. We can be reached at contact@goodasyou.org

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Your thoughts

Be very careful. You may just end up as a writer on the next Showtime gay oriented series.

Posted by: Tony P | Mar 9, 2009 11:54:52 AM

If it's another queer as folk, please put in some woody allen-type black gay characters. LOL

Posted by: a. mcewen | Mar 9, 2009 12:31:04 PM

I would love to see that, Alvin! :-)

Posted by: G-A-Y | Mar 9, 2009 12:55:27 PM

What we need: An LGBT Brady Bunch (as I've said before.

Ground rule: No storylines focusing on lesbians' wacky search for sperm. Really. There are 18+ more years of more interesting stuff for LGBT parents.

Posted by: Dana | Mar 9, 2009 1:07:39 PM

I'd totally watch that, Dana! Especially if they incorporated elements of the "Brady Bunch Variety Hour":


Posted by: G-A-Y | Mar 9, 2009 1:29:49 PM

Yes. I had to quit The L Word in mid-season five because I just couldn't take it anymore. Too much silly bullshit, too much Jenny, too much suck.

Queer As Folk had the same problem in its season two because it was trying to be a dramedy. Less comedy, more substantial plot please. The characters can be funny all on their own, they don't need wacky storylines.

Posted by: L.A. Fields | Mar 9, 2009 4:03:22 PM

Nah, I'm holding out for some Gay SciFi, which would be cool A Gay Clue would be cool (sort of mix it up with the movie Clue and Murder By Death).

Posted by: EdgyB | Mar 9, 2009 5:51:06 PM

I stopped watching after Dana died.

Posted by: A Strange Boy | Mar 9, 2009 10:21:41 PM

Hey! X-Files was filmed in Vancouver, it can't be so bad!

Posted by: joshalot | Mar 9, 2009 11:28:53 PM

Well said. The L Word now has too many inconsistencies and not enough integrity and has lost its unique appeal as a result. On the bright side, this was the first completely lesbian tv show and it sets a benchmark to surpass......surely?

Posted by: Pink Elvis | Mar 9, 2009 11:29:30 PM

Also, don't create bisexual characters only to later turn them into bi-bashing lesbians.

Posted by: Parapluie | Mar 10, 2009 12:00:14 AM

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