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The Daily Agenda for Tuesday, June 18

Jim Burroway

June 18th, 2013

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Daytime Soap Introduces First Gay Teen Character: 1992. The daytime dramas known as soap operas had been a staple of radio, and then television, for some sixty years, but by the 1990s, the genre was looking increasingly tired and outdated thanks to the popularity of daytime talk shows like Jerry Springer, Sally Jesse Rafael and Rikki Lake. With the soaps now competing with real-life drama (or at least a facsimile thereof) from these sensationalistic talk shows, producers understood that they needed to bring their story lines to the 1990s or loose whatever audience they still had.

ABC’s One Life to Live, which had been on the air since 1968 with a story line tackling women’s issues and race, seemed the obvious candidate to run a new story line exploring homophobia and the difficulties of being a gay teen. Billy Douglas (played by Ryan Phillippe), a newcomer to the town of Lianview, was reluctant to tell anyone about his homosexuality, especially his parents. He did, however, confide in the town’s compassionate pastor, Rev. Andrew Carpenter. But a scheming woman who Carpenter scorned (there’s always at least one in a soap opera) began circulating rumors around town that the pastor had been molesting Billy. In a dramatic scene, the entire town, led by Billy’s parents, confronted Carpenter and demanded that he resign, the pastor delivered a riveting sermon against the evils of prejudice and homophobia. This led Billy to take a public stand in support of Carpenter — and to come out to his parents.

YouTube Preview Image YouTube Preview Image

In 2010, Phillippe talked about what it was like to play a gay teen in 1992:

Me and the guy who played my boyfriend might’ve held hands once or twice, but that was it. The age of those characters had something to do it, but things also weren’t as liberal in 1992. Still, I felt lucky to play the first gay teenager on television —- not just daytime but television, period. What was so amazing about that for me was the response I got through fan letters that my mother and I would read together. Kids who’d never seen themselves represented on TV or in movies would write to say what a huge support they found it to be. One kid said he’d considered suicide before seeing a character like him being accepted. I also heard from a father, a mechanic, who hadn’t spoken to his son since he came out. When our show came on in his shop, it gave him some insight and understanding as to who his son was, so it opened up communication between them. As much as you can write off how silly the entertainment industry can be, it can affect change and make people see things differently. That’s beautiful.

Phillippe’s character left Lianview to attend Yale later that summer, and Phillippe left One Life to Live for good in 1993. ABC announced One Life to Live’s cancellation in late 2011, with the last episode airing on January 13, 2012.

Agnes Goodsir (top), Girl With Cigarette, 1925 (bottom)

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Agnes Goodsir: 1864. An Australia-born painter, Agness Goodsir joined a mass exodus of artists from down under seeking the artistic stimulation and freedom that had blossomed in Paris in the early 20th century. That’s where Goodsir studied at the Académie Delécluse, the Académie Julian and then the Académie Colarossi.

Her constant companion was Rachel Dunn, who was depicted in several of her paintings, including Morning Tea (1925), Girl with Cigarette (1925), The Letter (1926) and The Chinese Skirt (1933). She was best known for her portraits including, reportedly, one of Mussolini. When she died in 1939, she left her remaining paintings to Rachel Dunn, who sent about forty to Agnes’s family in Australia and others to Australian galleries. The Agnes Goodsir memorial scholarship at the Bendigo Art Gallery, where her work first appeared, is named in her memory.

If you know of something that belongs on the agenda, please send it here. Don’t forget to include the basics: who, what, when, where, and URL (if available).

And feel free to consider this your open thread for the day. What’s happening in your world?

Comments

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Stephen
June 18th, 2013 | LINK

Mr Phillipe might have played the first gay character on a minor story line on a soap but he was by no means the first on TV. Not even close. Among others there was a fine 1972 TV movie of the week, That Certain Summer, with Hal Holbrook and Martin Sheen as lovers.

Mr. Phillipe should try not to say silly things in public.

Charles
June 18th, 2013 | LINK

Stephen, Phillipe says that he played the first gay “teen” on TV, not the first gay male on TV. There had been gay characters in TV movies and even Billy Crystal playing gay character in Soap back in the late 1970s. I could list a number of TV series that addressed the gay issue beginning in the 1970s, but none that addressed the issue with a gay teen.

Stephen
June 18th, 2013 | LINK

Charlie Sheen was a teenager in that movie.

Jim Burroway
June 18th, 2013 | LINK

That was Martin Sheen, not Charlie, and Sheen’s character wasn’t a teen in that movie. His character was younger than Hal Holbrook’s, but he definitely was an adult.

http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com/2012/11/01/50183#1972

homer
June 18th, 2013 | LINK

Jim, One Life to Live is back as an online soap, available on Hulu. No gay characters, although Erika Kane’s lesbian daughter is back on All My Children.

Timothy Kincaid
June 18th, 2013 | LINK

William McNamara played Matt Carter, a gay college student, in Doing Time on Maple Drive in 1992. I don’t know the release date or if Matt is supposed to be a teen or not. But that’s probably the closest challenger for claim on that ‘first’.

Charles
June 18th, 2013 | LINK

Stephen, here is link to Wikipedia and the TV Movie “That Certain Summer”. Martin Sheen did not play a teenager. Holbrooks character, a divorced father, had a 14 year old teenage son who was distressed when he found out that his father was gay. Sheen played Holbrook’s partner.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/That_Certain_Summer

Now An Agnostic
June 20th, 2013 | LINK

Timothy. “Doing Time on Maple Drive” was a made for TV movie and was shown on Fox Night at the Movies on March 16, 1992. I recorded the movie, and it has been on a shelf in my bookcase for the past 21 years. Every so often over the years I have pulled it out and watched it. There is no chance in hell of such a movie being made for and shown on broadcast television (CBS, NBC, ABC, or Fox) in today’s anti-gay climate. The republicans simply would not allow it. It accurately depicts a right wing, religious, hypocritical (Mormon, Catholic, you name it) household. That’s probably why you have never seen it in a rerun on a mainstream broadcast channel. A PFLAG commercial (for lack of a better word) occurs midway in the movie. It should have been a public service announcement, but PFLAG probably had to pay for it.

Most scenes in the movie are as relevant today as they were in 1992. I do have to say that the wallpaper in the Carter home is Horrid even by 1992 standards. I have wallpaper in my house which I installed in 1993, and it has definitely stood the “test of time.”

Jim Carrey gives what I consider a brilliant dramatic performance as the oldest son, Tim, and has since then endeared him to me.

Matt who brings his fiance (soon to be wife as the wedding invitations have gone out) home from Yale to “meet the parents.” Matt and Kyle had been lovers in high school and both went to Yale and continued the relationship–that is until Matt gets engaged. The movie starts out with Matt returning some of Kyle’s “things” to his dorm room, and Kyle has tacked a note to his door. Matt puts the note in his sport coat inside pocket. Fiance reads note. Fiance breaks engagement and goes home. Boyfriend Kyle only gets about 20 seconds of actual screen time. Google “Doing Time on Maple Drive” for details. The DVD is available at Barnes and Noble for $9.99. I think I will buy it as the quality of my video is not real good.

Sorry to ramble.

Richard Rush
June 21st, 2013 | LINK

Now An Agnostic, thanks for the info. about “Doing Time on Maple Drive.” I just checked Netflix, and they have it.

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