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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.