Gays of Our Lives: Best and Worst of 2016

Most Disappointing Storyline – James, Harry and Henry, A Place To Call Home

I love this show and this past season was entertaining in many respects so it really pains me to write this.   But the truth is, I was very disappointed by the writing for the gays this past season.  The inital setup was delicious, classic soap combined with progressive gay storytelling.

Closet case James Bligh fell in love with super hot physician Henry Fox.  They had some ups and downs but eventually James accepted his sexuality and he and Henry embarked on a loving relationship.  Enter smoldering and sexy Harry Polson, James’ ex-lover from a time he couldn’t admit how he felt about men.  Harry, clearly still in love with James, didn’t want to cause any problems for his ex, who he could see was happy with a new fella.

James’ family didn’t want Harry and James together either, mostly because Harry was from the wrong side of the tracks while rich Dr. Fox was a more acceptable lover.  Eventually, though James and Harry reunited and in an ingenious twist that I loved, James didn’t remember Harry!  See, James had some electroshock to ‘cure’ him of being gay a few seasons ago and it was said then he might lose some memories.  But once James saw Harry, after a time, the memories did come back.   There was a juicy love triangle ready and waiting to be told.  Instead, we got…. nothing.

James and Harry promised to get together to discuss their past. Weeks went by and that conversation never took place.  In fact, James and Harry had no scenes together at all until James suddenly invited Harry to a gay party.  Any romantic feelings they had were gone as if they never even existed.  There Harry met a friend of James, immediately fell in love with him and that was that.  Meanwhile, James and Henry had no story together either.  Henry had a mostly off screen story about being blackmailed into procuring drugs for evil Regina.  James spent most of his time comforting his wife Olivia after her boyfriend dumped her.

Now, the writers were trying to convey a message about gays needing each other as friends for support and survival and how they could have monogamous, happy relationships.  That’s a great message, but not very interesting television.  I love this show and I love these characters and there was some progressive, important storytelling done here.  But in terms of soap opera drama the show failed.

Honorable Mention:   Will’s Coming Out Drama, Nashville


Guiltiest Pleasure – Shadowhunters

There’s a lot of bad acting and even worse writing on this show.  The plotlines are often ridiculous and ludicrous and some of the characters are so unlikeable you wish they’d get run through with a seraph blade.  And yet, I’ve watched each episode and can’t wait until the show comes back in January.

The biggest problem with this show are its leads: Jace and Clary.  Their relationship is chemistry free and you don’t buy their insta-love for one second. The acting between the two is horrendous and selfish, bubble headed Clary in particular is not a very appealing character

The supporting players are what saves this show: Alberto Rosende is awesome, funny and cute as vampire Simon and Harry Shum constantly steals scenes as the warlock Magnus. I’m still not sure why Magnus would have anything to do with a stiff like Alec, but the two do have chemistry and Matthew Daddario’s Alec is so blisteringly hot you almost overlook that he’s an idiot.  I also love Emeraude Toubia’s Isabelle and David Castro’s Raphael.

I’m just learning to ignore Clary and Jace scenes, especially when they are acting opposite each other.  Well, if you can call it acting.

Honorable Mention:  Quantico


Most Twisted Relationship –  Justin and Jeffery, The Haves and The Have Nots

I shouldn’t like this story, but I do.  I couldn’t help but find it intriguing, even though the story is dark and ugly and sometimes the characters are very unpleasant.

Last season, Jeffery was harassed and arrested by hot, but homophobic cop Justin, who threatened Jeffery with rape.

This season, Justin returned and he still had a boner for Jeffery.  There was more harassment and threats of violence, but when Jeffery stood up to Justin, Justin found himself turned on.  The two of them eventually had kinky sex with the show making it clear that Justin enjoyed being dominated and tied down.  After the sex though, Justin turned back in the homophobic bigot who insisted he wasn’t gay and their relationship was only about hooking up.

As the season played out, Justin and Jeffery had sex several more times and eventually it seems there was actual feelings developing between the two of them, not that they’d ever admit it.   Justin was quite the greedy bottom, demanding Jeffery handcuff him and do him.  LOL!

I have no idea where this story is going and on this show it’s likely to end in ugly violence.  But I do find the two of them hot and very watchable in a so bad it’s good sort of way.

Honorable Mention:  Lee and Dom, Holby City


Most Pointless Death – Elias, Secret Lives

Here’s the thing: I never cared much for Elias.  To me, he’s always been an awful brat who got involved with dim, but pretty Lari and harangued and obsessed over the guy so much that eventually Lari got out of the relationship.  Then while Lari moved on with his life and other men, Elias pined over Lari for over two years until inexplicably Lari realized he still loved Elias (despite being engaged to marry another guy and repeatedly telling Elias it was over) and they reunited.  Elias and Lari had a few happy weeks together until Elias was suddenly murdered.  Now, I know the show wanted us to find it all very tragic, but I just thought it was short sighted and stupid.

Elias and Lari’s reunion was hard to believe and even worse to watch given that they spent so much time apart and Lari had zero interest in getting back together.  Given that, the reunion came off as forced and rushed.  Moreover, Elias did not need to be killed off.  If the actor wanted to leave the show, Elias had planned to leave so many times on business and the show could have simply had him do that.  Given all the ties Elias still has left in town, he could have left for a bit and returned with a new face for some new stories and a fresh perspective.  I just don’t get why he had to die and especially for such a badly told storyline.

Honorable Mention:  Jack Is Murdered, The Fosters

Next Up: Most Implausible Storyline, Best Love Scene And The Best Show of 2016!

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About the Author

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.

13 comments

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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?

  6. 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.

  7. 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!

  8. 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.

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