Tag Archives: Queer TV

Actress Debra Wilson Explains The Key To Queer TV

“I’ve never really played a gay character,” says Debra Wilson, the queen of playing gay characters.

Let’s back up a little. Debra Wilson is a fierce, tattooed actress who is bringing heart to queer television.

You may have seen Debra on the sketch show MADtv, where she gained a cultlike queer following for her portrayals of Whitney Houston and Oprah Winfrey. As a MADtv actress for fourteen years, Debra became one of the show’s powerhouses – she was the Kristen Wiig of the show.

When she first began on the show in 1995, she may headlines for her then-groundbreaking views on homosexuality. She said,

I don’t give a fuck who you fuck; that’s your business.” These remarks and her hilarious impersonations have been credited with bringing a large queer following to the show, which was unfortunately canceled in 2009, but was revived by the CW in 2016.

What has Wilson been up to since the show’s ending? She’s done a lot of voiceover work for popular TV shows and video games, and but her main project is playing the lead in the web series My Sister Is So Gay.

Written by and starring Terry Ray and Wendy Michaels, up-tight, homophobic Amanda (Michaels) crash lands in the home of her gay brother Seth (Ray) after finding her husband has cheated with her best gal-pal. Her misplaced distress about the break-up –- and increasing curiosity about Seth’s lesbian coworker (Wilson) – signal more to Amanda than possibly even she realizes.” – Huffington Post

Wilson has often been praised for her non-stereotypical portrayals of queer women; this is her third time playing a lesbian on camera. In a time before multilayered queer actresses such as Tig Notaro and Kate McKinnon, Wilson was important in breaking down the “butch, man-hating” lesbian stereotypes that prevailed in the nineties and aughts.

She told Huffington Post that she has always looked to the character’s tribulations, not the character’s sexuality. “I’ve never really played a ‘gay character.’ I’ve always played the person in the midst of a situation – who happens to be gay.”

She also said, “If you stripped away who you slept with, you’d still be this human being who goes through the trials and tribulations, your joys, your sorrows, your celebrations and chooses how you experience and express your humanity.”

Catch My Sister Is So Gay here.

Should Netflix Revive “Will and Grace”?

Netflix recently revived 70s sitcom One Day at Time as a queer Latina coming-out story. It revived 90s hits Gilmore Girls and Full House. It’s bringing back Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. And now it’s reviving Will and Grace, the first sitcom to depict gay people as real people.

But should they?

Will and Grace is iconic. Joe Biden cited the show as his reason for beginning to support gay marriage. Will and Grace, the story of a gay man and his female roommate, did the impossible by humanizing gay people. According to The Decider, the result was “as campy, bitchy, and all-around queer as anything that’s ever graced NBC’s airwaves.”

Despite taking place during Bill Clinton’s Defense of Marriage Act and Bush’s upholding of that act, the show was never overtly political. However, its very existence was an act of queer resistance.

One Day at a Time was a groundbreaking sitcom because it depicted a divorced, single mother, a concept that is no longer shocking to today’s audiences. However, its revival was successful because it tackled other controversial subjects such as immigration, gentrification and LGBT issues.

On the other hand, Will and Grace is returning with the exact same cast, just twenty years older and far less relevant.

Audiences are bored by gay white men.

Being a gay white man is no longer revolutionary. If it were, then The New Normal and Looking wouldn’t have been axed so quickly.

Queer people today are more interested in intersectionality. LaVerne Cox brought the intersection of race and transgender issues to the forefront of American consciousness.

YouTube has allowed queer people to tell their own stories of intersectionality – webseries allow people to experience being queer and poor, queer and brown, queer and transgender, and almost anything else.

Now that same-sex marriage has been legalized, queer people are focused on workplace discrimination, fair treatment in the military, etc. A cute story about two gay people falling in love is boring, not radical.

In Will and Grace, Will is a privileged white man living on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. In the ten years since Will and Grace went off the air, you’ve seen his story retold dozens and dozens of times. He comes across as less human and more campy, stiff and out of touch.

Don’t believe me? Check out this cringe-worthy mini-episode of the revived Will and Grace that the cast shot for the election.


So what’s the solution?

Should networks stop remaking beloved television shows such as One Day at a Time? No.

Should networks stop reviving beloved television shows in order to squeeze the nostalgia dollars out of an aging population? Absolutely.

A Will and Grace remake would be worlds better than a revival. Imagine: Instead of a privileged, milequetoast aging gay man, what if the show followed a queer disabled woman? Or a queer Muslim? Or a homoromantic, asexual person? Any of these stories would be infinitely more interesting.

You can make your own decision about the show in September. Until then, have I mentioned how great One Day at a Time is?