Most of our culture is starting to adapt to the normalcy of gay couples. More and more same-sex couples are appearing on popular television shows. Whether the couples are portraying or challenging modern stereotypes, it is a big step to more acceptances towards the LGBT culture. Gay couples starring in shows are hitting almost all age groups. This is beneficial because the more we expose them to younger audiences, the more accepting our culture will grow to be. Two shows that star same-sex couples to younger audiences include Good Luck Charlie and Pretty Little Liars. These two shows range of audiences from young children to young adults. The producers do a significantly well job of using same-sex couples to help viewers of all ages to learn, understand and see how stereotypes of our modern day are portrayed and challenged.
Good Luck Charlie, broadcasted on Disney Channel, has a very young audience. This show is the first series Disney has used a same-sex couple to the channel. During the episode (season 4, episode 19), the parents are talking about how they met the child’s mother whom was coming over for a play date at school. The parents are disagreeing over what the mother’s name was. It turns out they were both right about the name because the child had two mothers. When the couple enters the scene, the parents both stay calm and collected. This portrays to young children that it is normal some children might have two moms or two dads. When exposing same-sex couples to younger ages, as the children become older they will be more adaptable to LGBT couples. Hopefully, this will grow to teach everyone that same-sex couples are completely normal and need to be accepted.
A stereotypical element I noticed when watching the episode was the father thought one of the mothers had to have manly characteristics like him. He states that he usually watches a sports game with the father while the mother’s gossip during the play date. This is stereotypical because of the way our society thinks a couple should be. Not every same-sex couple has to have a more manly or feminine person. Couples, whether same-sex or not, have a wide range of personality traits and likes that stereotyping them is very harmful. This teaches the viewers that there is a specific trait every couple must have, which is not true. Another element I noticed was after the two mothers entered the scene. The father goes, “Ohh Taylor has two moms!” and the mother goes, “Wow nothing gets past you Bob.” This is portraying that same-sex couples are always in the back of head or we don’t acknowledge it is possible. When our society thinks of couples we automatically think of male/female. Portraying this on a young children’s television show may be detrimental to their judgment because same-sex couples should always be considered. It also puts an emphasis on the couple being LGBT. I think the producers would have been better off without putting those lines in. If they kept the scene normal and didn’t even mention the fact they were a same-sex couple might be more helpful to young children. It would help them understand same-sex couples are normal.
Mothers were outraged by Disney Channel’s inclusion of LGBT characters. According to an article on Huffington Post, a Disney Channel spokesperson stated the episode was “developed to be relevant to kids and families around the world and to reflect themes of diversity and inclusiveness.” You would think people would be okay with portraying real life situations on television. Wrong. One Million Moms, a watchdog group, emailed and boycotted the inclusion and exposure of same-sex couples. When children see their parents reacting in such a way, it teaches them to becoming unaccepting as well. If people continue to outrage about the inclusion of same-sex couples on adolescent based audiences then I think it will be more harming to our culture than positive.
Pretty Little Liars is a series targeted toward adolescents to young adult. This series stars multiple same-sex couples based off one character Emily. She dates a variety of girls throughout the series. Emily’s mother was not very supportive when Emily shared the news to her. Although she was not supportive, her friends showed a dramatic amount of support. Once they knew she was gay, it was never a big deal to them again. They asked about her relationships and accepted anyone she dated. This teaches young viewers dealing with figuring out who they are that all people in your life may not be supportive but someone will always care. The series shows viewers that it is possible to be happy with who you are with the support of friends or family. Showing Emily stay strong through all the ups and downs gives viewers a sense of hope and a role model to look up to for strength. The producers also portray Emily and the other LGBT characters as more girlie. Stereotypically, a lesbian woman is looked at as manly and so to say a ‘tom-boy’. The series does a good job of portraying Emily as a woman as well as having other characteristics such as good grades and athletic traits.
Something that these two series do correctly is portraying the LGBT characters as powerful role models. Emily is known as being tough throughout the series. She battles many hardships, arguments and suffering from ‘A’. On the other hand, Good Luck Charlie portrays the same-sex couple as funny, entertaining and normal. By showing adolescents and young adults that same-sex couples are completely normal helps build a more accepting culture. Audiences watching these series, along with series that also include same-sex couples, will grow to be more adapting and educated on LGBT people. Even though sometimes the series show stereotypical aspects of LGBT culture it is still a big step in the right direction. Sometimes, portraying stereotypes in a bad way might make us realize how stupid they really are. When added with humor and drama, series like Pretty Little Liars and Good Luck Charlie shape young minds in our culture to see no difference between LGBT and straight couples.
Nichols , J. (2014, February 3). One million moms responds to lesbian couple on Disney
Channel's 'Good Luck Charlie'. The Huffington Post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/03/one-million-moms-good-luck-charlie_n_4717515.html
Kuruvilla, C. (2014, February 5). Conservatives angry after Disney Channel debuts lesbian
couple on ‘Good Luck Charlie’. Daily News. Retrieved from http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/tv-movies/disney-channel-debuts-lesbian-couple-good-luck-charlie-article-1.1603673