Gays of Our Lives: Best and Worst of 2016

Most Implausible Plot Point – No One Cares When Zero Comes Out, Hit The Floor

HTF spent much of the show’s first couple of years with Zero and Jude in a closeted relationship, Zero afraid his career would be ruined if people learned a top basketball star was gay/bisexual.  But when Jude made it clear he wouldn’t be in a secret love affair, Zero risked losing everything by openly declaring his sexuality and his love for Jude.  It was a hot, long awaited moment on the show, but what came next was not only bad storytelling, but utterly implausible.

There were no ramifications of Zero coming out.  Nobody on the team cared (made mostly of African-American men), his employers showed little concern and there was no push back from the press or the public. In fact, Zero became popular amongst the gay community (the only realistic part) and he became more wealthy with various endorsements.  The show then quickly shoved aside that storyline into a boring plot about Zero looking for his long lost sister.  But that storyline went nowhere when Zero suddenly changed his mind and the show dropped the whole story.

After spending so much time with Zero hiding who he was for it to all come to nothing was simply a waste of years of plot points.  I guess the writers didn’t want to drag the fluffy, bubble gum show down by miring it with homophobia and bigotry, but they didn’t have to ignore it all together.  They could have given us something and then moved on without getting too heavy.

I wished we lived in a world where a prominent sports figure could come out and no one would care.  But we don’t live in that world, even in 2016.  HTF did their own long term story an injustice by acting as if we do.

Honorable Mention:  Finn and Kasim’s Relationship, Emmerdale


Best New Character – James Nightengale, Hollyoaks

Scheming, seductive, bitchy and sharp tongued pretty much describes James.  But he’s actually more complex than that.  He has a heart and is loyal to those he cares about, even if they don’t always deserve it. He’s very well written on a show where the writing is often questionable and Gregory Finnegan is a commanding and dominant presence in every scene in which he appears.  The show has also given him a terrific love interest in the form of good guy John Paul McQueen and the two make a quirky and rootable couple.

The problem is that for James as a character and John Paul and James as a duo is that the show isn’t writing for them.   James should be a leading player on this show, but instead he’s spent a lot of time without a story or being a supporting or side character.  The same with JP, who has been a lead on this show for many years and now is given little to do.  I get the sense the show isn’t sure what to do with him or John Paul and I wonder why. I can think of about a dozen storylines for them without even trying.

I wish Hollyoaks would.

Honorable Mention:  Harry Doyle, Quantico


Best Love Scene  – Even and Isak In The Hotel Room, Skam

I was a late comer to this show, but boy was I glad that I didn’t miss out.  This is a compelling, provocative groundbreaking love story between two teenage boys.  Sure, much of this is your basic coming out stuff, but there’s so much more to it than just that in that the show deals with topics and stories not often seen on television.  But it’s not just that.  The style and the mood and the cinematography of this show fits this show like a glove.

The show has not skimped on showing the romance and the passion of Even and Isak’s relationship and that was no more evident in that very passionate love scene in the hotel room late in the series.  I’m sure those scenes raised a lot of eyebrows, among other things.

Honorable Mention: Connor and Oliver, How To Get Away With Murder


Most Boring Show – Days of Our Lives

I wonder why this show even bothered keeping Paul around for the past year, much less bringing back Sonny.  What they are doing with them is not only boring, it’s starting to get a bit offensive.  After Sonny left last year, Paul spent most of the time in the background first as a model to support Gabi’s story and then became a PI who most notably got kidnapped and brainwashed in a dumb story that went nowhere.

Then when Sonny returned, you might think that there would be some story and romance for those two.  Instead, there hasn’t been much of either.  While Paul and Sonny still have some chemistry, the show really doesn’t play it.   There is no life, no energy, nothing to their sporadic scenes together.  The romance is so chaste that a backrub is considered the height of passion. Paul and Sonny are ex-lovers with a messy background, but none of that comes across on screen.  The show tells us there’s a lot of angst as why they aren’t together, but there’s really no reason for them not to date.

They’re both single, Will has been dead over a year and the show has said Will’s memory isn’t what is keeping them apart.  So what is it? Who knows?  The show hasn’t bothered to specify.  The show recently brought back Paul’s ex Derrick with a few hints that they are dating, but Paul and Derrick rarely have a scene together, much less anything resembling a relationship.

I know the show wants us to think there’s a romantic triangle here, but there’s nothing romantic about it.  You’ve got three good looking and sexy gay men not having sex and not showing much interest in getting laid.  There’s a word for that.  And it’s not a good one.

Honorable Mention: Shortland Street


Best Show – American Crime

I said at the start this year that the odds were this would capture the Best Show award for 2016.  And I was right.  American Crime centered on a groundbreaking storyline about two young gay men tied together when one of them accused the other of rape. The show spent the season telling this powerful, harrowing drama, mixing in subplots of class and race and economic injustice.

The acting across the board was majestic.  Connor Jessup was heartbreaking as Taylor, whose despair and rage over what had been done to him lead to him committing an unspeakable act that changed his life forever.  Joey Pollari’s Eric was also very good as the accused, who insisted what happened was not rape.  Other performances from Regina King, Lily Taylor and Timothy Hutton were also wonderful.  Special notice must be given to Felicity Huffman, who played Barbera, a horrible and despicable person that you simply could not stop watching.

The writing was solid as well, there wasn’t an episode that did not have at least one stand out or memorable scene.  Some of them, like the scene in the diner with Connor and his mom after the shooting, still haunt me to this day.

I know a lot people didn’t like the ending in that we never found out what really happened the night Taylor claimed he was raped and both Taylor and Eric’s fates were left unanswered.  But I didn’t mind it.

All season the show told us there were no easy answers, no happy endings and life goes on with not everything tied up in a bow.  The ending reflected that.   AC had a few flaws, some subplots didn’t work and the ‘special’ episode featuring real people came across as filler, but that didn’t detract from the overall excellence of the show.  It truly was the best show I saw all year.  Nothing even came close.

Honorable Mention:  Eyewitness


And that’s it for 2016!  I appreciate you readers for coming here each week to read my ramblings and I’ll see you next year.  Gays Of Our Lives will return the first week in 2017! Happy Holidays!

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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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