May 22, 2024


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The ‘gay best friend’: has TV’s laziest cliche ultimately fallen out of fashion? | Society

It feels as if the 00s are getting a little bit of a instant right now. Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck are back with each other, a Gossip Lady reboot just dropped, and the solid of Sex and the City – minus Kim Cattrall – are active filming on the streets of New York City. But a large amount has transformed considering that the 00s: as I studied the familiar image of an impeccably dressed Ms Bradshaw with her pal Stanford Blatch, I couldn’t aid but surprise … is the “gay most effective friend” now a point of the past?

In the 2000s – extended before Lil Nas X was giving the devil a lap dance in PVC boots – representations of homosexual males in films and Tv set exhibits often revolved round the “gay best friend” stereotype. From Damian (“too homosexual to functionality!”) in Signify Ladies to Stanley Tucci in The Satan Wears Prada and Burlesque, the GBF generally performed the sidekick to a female, delivering emotional guidance and fashion ideas together the way. SATC’s Stanford Blatch and Anthony Marentino, a colourfully dressed expertise agent and sharp-tongued wedding day planner respectively, were being the quintessential homosexual very best buddies. They worked in resourceful careers, were armed with witty a person-liners and seldom experienced their possess storylines.

Reality Tv leaned into this trope, far too. When Paris Hilton – a 00s cultural phenomenon – filmed her quest to come across her “new BFF”, the winners of her US and Uk competition shows ended up both of those homosexual guys. But it feels like scripted Tv reveals and films experienced a particular appreciate for the GBF. The screenwriter Amrou Al-Kadhi (Tiny The us, Hollyoaks, The Check out) says that it was “the great way” for platforms to depict gay figures without having getting to assume of them sexually. “The GBF was constantly a bit of a eunuch: sexually harmless, additional a courtroom jester than something else,” Al-Kadhi claims. “Commercial platforms felt they ended up doing their bit for ‘inclusion’ with out perhaps upsetting advertisers. It is an unthreatening homosexual representation that was intrinsically tied to commerciality.”

Dapper laughs ... Andrew Rannells as Elijah Krantz in Girls.
Dapper laughs … Andrew Rannells as Elijah Krantz in Ladies. Photograph: HBO

Seeking back again, Al-Kadhi thinks that this stereotype did more hurt than good. “I imagine it was quite destructive for youthful queer audiences to only see themselves in this way, as Shakespearean fools not intrinsic to the story, but extra there to supply the straights some comedian relief.”

So what is transformed? From the mid-2000s and toward the begin of the 2010s, gay figures began evolving. Tv led the way: in Unattractive Betty, the stereotype of gay guys as trend-obsessed and bitchy remained. But the display spotlighted various LGBTQ+ characters and afforded its gay sales opportunities – manner assistant turned editor Marc St James and Betty’s nephew Justin – a depth to which audiences experienced beforehand been unaccustomed. Likewise, in Ryan Murphy’s Glee, vogue-obsessed Kurt Hummel’s romance with his dad and teenage romance storylines had been taken care of with a new stage of openness and sensitivity. In the British isles, the soaps also became significantly gayer, with Hollyoaks in particular turning into house to a huge spectrum of queer storylines.

Now people from a range of LGBTQ+ identities are progressively seen in more substantial roles. Elijah from Women, performed by Andrew Rannells, had a character arc that represents this shift. He started off the display off as a “best friend”, of sorts, but ended as an integral element of the tale, acquiring long gone on a journey in his romantic relationships, friendships and profession. From Schitt’s Creek to Pose, it feels as if there’s a move absent from shallow stereotypes in the direction of a increased embrace of fluidity across the LGBTQ+ spectrum.

Make a song and dance about it ... Chris Colfer (centre) as Kurt Hummel in Glee.
Make a track and dance about it … Chris Colfer (centre) as Kurt Hummel in Glee. Photograph: AA Film Archive/Alamy

An critical portion of the move from witty-but-shallow sidekick to protagonist is that queer figures are not confined to getting “good guys” possibly: Killing Eve and The Assassination of Gianni Versace highlight terrifying villains. This newfound complexity coincides with an exploration of queer historical past too: Russell T Davies adopted the accomplishment of Queer As People and Cucumber with critically acclaimed drama It is a Sin, which starred a group of typically gay figures in 1980s London. In a identical design to the 2014 film Pride, the Channel 4 drama depicted a team of mates who were every a mix of flaws, redeeming attributes and struggles. Jill – a character who was presumed to be straight – occupied the function of “best friend”, emphasising just how considerably has transformed.

Al-Kadhi thinks that stereotypes these types of as the GBF are dying out simply because much more LGBTQ+ people are staying designed by queer folks. “Queer people are equipped to consider demand of their very own tales a good deal a lot more, and homosexual representation has massively improved as audiences have come to count on distinctive authorship in storytelling,” they say. “People can notify when some thing is phony, and authenticity is what sells a clearly show to audiences these times.”

As someone who grew up remaining starved of any vaguely reasonable portrayals of homosexual existence on display, I’m glad that shows these types of as the new Gossip Female – which guarantees to be “queer AF” as opposed to its astonishingly heterosexual 00s predecessor – are transferring with the moments. Possibly when Carrie Bradshaw slips on her Manolo Blahniks at the time once again for the SATC reboot, it’ll be a opportunity to give GBFs Stanford and Anthony a minimal extra depth. My fingers are crossed, because gay gentlemen are a lot much more than stylish outfits and one-liners – and the “gay best friend” is a trend I’m hoping won’t be back again in fashion any time soon.

Gossip Lady airs later on this calendar year on BBC One and BBC iPlayer