Designing Women Made You Gay

The shoulder-pad sisterhood of ladies from Atlanta that paved the way for Sex and the City is now on DVD -- and Dave White is all over it.



And that speechifying was, intentional or not, a great queer public service. Because if you think about it, back in the '80s, we'd been dealt a pretty cruel setback thanks to AIDS, the rise of the religious right, and a conservative president. It was like if you were gay, you had to be sorry about it and hope that people accepted you and didn't treat you like were some kind of deadly disease factory. So along comes this show that's all about women but where the sensibility is also just right for a specific kind of gay guy, one who needs an unapologetic voice to emulate. Linda Bloodworth-Thomason may have been designing a show to breathe new life into the tired, insulting stereotypes of Southern women, yet she also seemed to have inadvertently helped a lot of gay guys -- especially the ones who maybe weren't already supported by a queer peer group in a larger urban environment -- find their spines.

A little digression: the other thing I've learned is that Meshach Taylor's character, Anthony the deliveryman-assistant, was a constant mind game. Gay? Not gay? Gay-acting straight guy? Straightish-seeming gay guy? Confusion made flesh? It was like he was auditioning for a weird proto-version of Will & Grace where none of the characters were allowed to talk about being homosexual. But that's a subject for a whole different discussion.

I hear from friends who know the DW world backward and forward that things get weird and wonky as the seasons go by, that cast members quit and get replaced by other actors, that it gets less focused and less fiery. But I'll cross that disappointment bridge when I come to it. Right now I'm sort of looking forward to season 2 of this brand-new 23-year-old show.

Tags: television