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Gays of Our Lives: Best and Worst of 2016

This was a tough year. Seems like we couldn’t turn on the news without bad news of some sort, culminating in an election day that’ll be a long time before any of us recovers from.

It wasn’t an easy year in soaps and dramas featuring gay characters either.  So many bad stories, so many characters ill used or not used at all.  But there were a few bright spots, some diamonds among a lot of coal and this week we’re going to discuss them in an overview of the Best and the Worst of 2016.

Best Couple (with a big caveat) -Brad and Lucas,General Hospital

I love Brad and Lucas. Whenever they are on, whenever the show writes for them, they just light up the screen no matter what they are doing.  They have terrific, combustible chemistry and are portrayed by dynamic, engaging actors.

They can do the romantic scenes, the comedic stuff and the dramatic material with ease. Both characters have strong ties to the canvas with both the mob characters and the hospital staff and there’s such potential for strong storytelling.  The fans love them and they could be ‘A’ players.  But not on this show. GH simply isn’t interested in writing for gay people.  They even barely play the lesbian plot they started.

It’s a shame and it’s shameful.  US soaps have so few gay characters and I just weep that they created this wonderful couple, yet refuse to do anything with them.

But no, I’m not bitter.  Not at all.

Honorable Mention:   Jude and Zero, Hit The Floor.


Worst Couple – Harry and Ste, Hollyoaks

Yuck. I don’t get the popularity of this couple. To me they are unwatchable, not just because of the presence of Ste Hay, who just might be one of the most loathsome soap characters to ever haunt my screen, but because their relationship makes no sense. I have never understood why these two are together. And I still don’t.

This is really not a relationship, it’s Ste doing dumb and awful things and Harry supporting him no matter what Ste does and no matter how bad it gets.  Harry has never been the most compelling, well drawn character, but he doesn’t exist anymore or is a person in and of himself.  He’s all about taking care of Ste, settling his problems, babysitting his kids and being a cipher of a personality.  And Harry gets nothing in return.  Ste is all about himself and his problems.

The writing, of course, depicts this as an ‘against all odds’ type of love story, instead of the destructive, toxic and unhealthy pairing that it is. What really gets me is how people in Harry’s life support this nonsense when no one in their right mind would want Harry anywhere near a trainwreck like Ste.

Honorable Mention: Nate and Aaron, Neighbours


Most Ruined Couple –  Aaron and Robert, Emmerdale

To me, what happened with Aaron and Robert is what occurs when you let fangirls into the writers room.  Aaron and Robert started as a dangerous, messy and darkly drawn love affair.  Back then, when they were having a secret affair, it was compelling and fun to watch.  But not anymore.

The show initially drew the coupling as they did with Chas and Carl, who had a toxic, messy relationship back in the day.  Two people who had no business being together, but they couldn’t stay away from one another no matter how much time went by and how badly they hurt each other.  They even had some characters making those very apt comparisons.

But the show has softened the relationship, lightened it’s dark edges and turned bad boy Robert into a ‘yes’ man who is always apologizing to Aaron for some sin either real or imagined and changed Aaron to a perpetual nag.  Robert and Aaron are always bickering and breaking up, then getting back together without talking about why they split to begin with.  There are times I don’t even know the status of their relationship because it changes from day to day.  That’s why the nonsensical choice to have them marry is clearly the work of satisfying the fan-fic crowd rather than good storytelling.

Worst of all is the show’s forcing Aaron and Robert into a family by giving Aaron a teenage sister to parent.  Don’t get me wrong, Isobel Steele is perfect in the role and she and Aaron are very believable as siblings.  They even look alike!  But Aaron has no business raising a teenager, not what he is doing could be called that.  Basically Liv runs wild and Aaron shrugs his shoulders and does nothing to stop her.

And Robert’s character is further weakened by wanting to be a pseudo-father to this teenager who really cares little for him.  In essence, the show has decided to heteronormalize this pairing and it’s ruined everything worth watching about it.

Honorable Mention:   Lari and Kalle, Secret Lives


Sweetest Couple – Tyler and Iolo, People of the Valley

The relationship moved way too fast and the writing hasn’t always been solid, but there’s no denying that Tyler and Iolo are well matched.  The actors have such wonderful chemistry and for someone who has watched Iolo suffer for many years, seeing him happy amd smiling does my heart good.

Their romantic scenes are warm and fuzzy and always leave you smiling.  I sighed during many of their moments like the dual proposal fiasco and the adorable pillow fight they had awhile back.  I just love watching them and I really did root for them to work through the myriad of silly problems the writers threw at them over the past year.  If only the stories for them were better.  Guess you can’t have everything.

Honorable Mention: Todd and Billy, Coronation Street

What was the Most Disappointing Storyline?  The Most Twisted Relationship?  Click The Next To Find Out!

About the author

Anthony D. Langford

I watch a lot of television, probably too much. But can you really watch too much TV? I've yet to find out. Anyway, I especially love TV when they give us positive portrayals of gays, something that has gotten better but we're still fighting for. I've written about gays in television for many years first at the much missed After Elton, then New Now Next and now at TV Source. It's kind of a passion of mine and I look forward to sharing it with you.

  • Dee

    Aaron and Robert has not been ruined. LOL

  • foxy

    DOOL , GH ARE THE HORRID SHOWS AND STRENDEN WERE THE ABRUSIVE COUPLE ON HOLLYOAKS !!!!

  • ChrisT

    I agree that the writing for John Paul/James and Lucas/Brad has been shameful. Well, really, what writing for Lucas and Brad? And John Paul and James have SO.MUCH.DAMN.POTENTIAL, it kills me they are turning them into a joke so quickly. Compared to the John Paul/Craig storyline so many moons ago, and the Ste/Brenden storyline later, it just feels like an entirely different show. Yes, those storylines had their own particular weaknesses, but at least they had depth and emotion. It feels like all Hollyoaks does now is turn their characters into the butt of the joke.

    I do not, however, agree with the assessment on Robert and Aaron. Yes, they definitely had their slow moments lately. Just as their storyline had slow moments here and there over the last couple of years. But I’ve rather enjoyed the last few weeks, and for exactly the OPPOSITE reason of your complaint. You think the show has turned Robert into trying constantly to be “good” for Aaron and Aaron into a nag. But that is not what I see. The show is very clearly illustrating that actually both of the guys can be pretty bad, in different ways. And in not very different ways at all, given they both are fond of kidnapping teens and holding them hostage in their cars. Yes, Aaron is ultimately more moral, but he is definitely no saint, nor does he expect Robert to be. Their problems come from lack of honesty and trust. When Aaron got mad at Robert over kidnapping the teen boy, he immediately got over it when Robert was honest with him. When we felt like drama was coming over Aaron robbing the Whites, instead we found him be totally honest with Robert and Robert being totally okay. There is clearly angst coming with Aaron’s distrust – distrust that seems well deserved, given Robert’s track record – but angst is fine when it makes sense. And ultimately works out!

    In many ways, Robert/Aaron remind me of Cain/Moira. At a certain point, we know that Cain won’t be going to jail for all the various crimes he commits, just like Robert won’t. So that leaves his actions without any drama or tension. Why should we care when he will always get away with it? Adding in the partner that Cain – and similarly Robert – is worried about losing is what brings that tension. Robert’s actions matter BECAUSE he has someone to lose. I mean, bad guy/good girl (or vice versa) is pretty much soap 101 for a reason.

  • Rocklobstah

    Looking forward to American Crime S3.

  • Rocklobstah

    The diner scene was quite something. It left me in a puddle.

  • Hue-Man

    Further to American Crime, “Closet Monster”, starring Connor Jessup, is on The Advocate’s list of 12 top LGBT films of 2016. It was an interesting take on coming-out stories.

    A rave for Skam. I binge-watched the series in time for the last few episodes of Season 3. I had to keep reminding myself that these are teenage actors not the 30-somethings we’re used to seeing in American high school shows! Unlike Degrassi, it focuses on one central character rather than preaching the “lesson of the week.”

    Anthony, best wishes for the holidays to you and yours.

  • Carlos Eduardo

    I stopped watching Days after the killed off Will and pretty much dropped, or hid, all the other gay characters. And when they do have them in a scene, you either have no idea their gay, or the “gay” part of the story line is non-existent. They obviously have no desire to pursue any gay character development. I don’t even know why they kept any of the gay characters in the show at all.

  • popcultureguy

    Nice write-up about Lucas/Brad. I think what’s important to note about them in general is that it’s an example of the show veering away from what they planned (i.e. Ron definitely wanted to make Felix the prize and put him with legacy character Lucas) and going in the direction of the spark, chemistry, whatever. Most of the times, these soaps refuse to veer from their predestined courses like that anymore.

    But it is shameful how little they use them, Lucas in particular. When Patrick left, Lucas should have become the central male figure of the hospital set, given his legacy, his character connections, etc. Instead, we got Griffin (whose friendship with Lucas has completely vanished) and Dr. Michael Easton 2.0. Booo.

  • Hhvenus310

    Happy holidays! I loved reading this and your picks for best and worst. I laughed at ste and Harry getting worst couple I can’t believe they’re still together and why are they popular? Why is ste popular? I agree with you on days of our lives it is so boring and that’s with it being better than it was. And do you really think Robert and Aaron are totally ruined? That makes me sad even if I agree with some of what you said. I also loved American crime but how to get away with murder is my top show for the year and finally I loved what you said about clary from shadowhunters she’s the worst. I watch mostly to look at Matt daddrio is that wrong?

  • Jeff S

    I look forward to your columns every week, Anthony, and am so glad you found a new home here. I like your perspective and have discovered new shows and stories by reading your work.

    I don’t follow all the shows you mentioned but find myself agreeing with you on the ones I do watch. Aaron & Robert is the biggest disappointment this year. The show lost me with the retconned sexual abuse story and all that came after that (I’m looking at you, Liv). As their story has evolved, I find Robert more interesting with Rebecca and think it would be a great twist if he started cheating on Aaron with her. It would be consistent with Robert’s character and emphasize his bisexuality. On the down side, it would mean more crying scenes for Aaron. No, thank you.

    No question that Iolo & Tyler are the most adorable couple. Despite the fast pace, I was charmed by their coming-together story and hope the show doesn’t sideline them now or continue letting Gwyneth infect their story. If their respective shows handle them well, next year’s winner could be either Todd & Billy or Finn & Kasim.

    Hollyoaks is wasting so much opportunity with James as an individual and with him and John Paul as a couple. Story-wise, the best things to happen to Ste are Brendan Brady and Amy Barnes – both of which were dark, hard-to-watch stories. Without them his story is a waste of screen time. I expect to see Gregory Finnegan up for some soap awards next year.

  • WaterlilySan

    I feel like you pulled a lot of this out of my head as I’ve had the same thoughts (and some screaming at my tv in spots) about quite a few of these items. Just to mention a few:

    Horrible Harry/Ste, If only they’d write for them Brad/Lucas, so much potential but so much ado about nothing Henry/James/Harry, the ridiculousness that is Days and Shadowhunters. Especially Shadowhunters.

    Great article!

  • Lili Nasaura

    Best show, Honorable mention : Eyewitness ? Seriously ? The writing is terrible, the acting horrendous (special mention goes to James Paxton), the script doesn’t make any sense in half the scenes and the gay couple has entirely been made for fan-service and fan-girling (yeah because it’s very realistic to have sex when you juste have been shot and that a serial-killer is after you) but it’s supposed to be a good show ? Must be the Christmas spirit.

  • I was loving American Crime 2 but after the diner scene, I’ve hit an impasse not able to face the final episodes.