As any lesbian who owns a TV can tell you, our community has had a bit of a love/really, really hate affair with the Glee creator. There are times, many times, I’ve wanted to scream at my screen with Kanyesque indignation that Ryan Murphy doesn’t care about lesbians. Many have noted, loudly and eloquently, that Murphy hasn’t always had the best track record when it comes to his portrayal of lesbians. Sure, this is the man who gave us Santana Lopez. But that was only after fans demanded it with pitchforks brandished.
In fact his tweet was a direct response to pop culture critic Alyssa Rosenberg’s Slate piece titled “Ryan Murphy Just Can’t Stop Making Lame Lesbian Jokes in The New Normal.” And, if the first two episodes of the fledgling series are any indication, he just can’t help himself.
In the pilot, Ellen Barkin’s Nana calls a lesbian couple holding their baby (featuring out comic Julie Goldman) “ugly men.” And in the second episode Andrew Rannells’ Bryan wants to go out dancing “before we fully morph into an old lesbian couple, minus the frowns and the gingerbread man bodies.” Lesbians are ugly and angry! Also fat! Are you laughing? I just can’t stop laughing. Except the opposite of that.
Sure, we can’t place all the blame on Murphy’s head. The New Normal is co-produced by out lesbian Ali Adler. That will either make you feel a lot more relieved or a lot more anxious, depending on how you feel about the last season of Glee, where Ali served as one of the writers.
Over the years Murphy has morphed into an Ilene Chaiken-esque figure to many lesbian viewers. A TV creator with good ideas, great promise, amazing casts and somewhat dubious results.
Now, I’m always happy for more positive LGBT representation on TV. I’m thrilled and thankful for Callie and Arizona and Santana and Brittany and Bo and Lauren and Emily and Paige and Kalinda and even that angry widowed lesbian on Go On. But I can’t help but worry what a “wonderful eloquent lesbian couple” looks like in Ryan Murphy’s world. Hopefully not a pair of frumpy, stumpy, ugly men.