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10 Reasons You Should Watch  

10 Reasons You Should Watch  


OK, yes, I know, it's not hip to say you love watching Rules of Engagement, a neglected CBS comedy that is, on its surface, about two straight married couples, their randy single het friend, and his long-suffering assistant. But even before the show introduced the lesbian storyline last season (wait, does one character a "storyline" make?), there was enough about Rules to make me think viewers who were looking hard enough could find enough subversively queer content to make the show a must-see. Now that it's back on must-see Thursdays instead of relegated to Saturday, why not take a gander? (Although you'll want to TiVo Parks & Rec, of course.)

1. Orlando Jones is Brad, a gay, black man -- minus the stereotypes. TV does not do black gay men justice. Example: We love Tatyana Ali, and TV One's Love that Girl deserves more props than it gets for having a hot, kind of funny black cast, but the swishy gay guys are so over-the-top that it's like one of those In Living Color "Men on Film" segments. Jones is none of that. He's cute, smart, married, and funny. We need more scenes with him -- especially ones that play off the other cast members' discomforts around race, masculinity, and sexual orientation. Bonus points: Orlando Jones also starred in the lovely little gay comedy Misconceptions.

2. Jeff's built-in gaydar. Jeff is played by Patrick Warburton, a gay icon from his days as the spandex-sporting superhero The Tick. One of the two married straight guys on the show, he has a knack for finding queer friends. When Jeff first meets Brad at the gym, he has no idea he's gay. When he realizes it, he knows he has to be cool -- and the ensuing episode revolves around debunking gay stereotypes, and panic over Jeff's own masculinity and attractiveness (both common themes that elevate Rules to savvy viewers).

3. Sara Rue is Jeff's other friend -- and she's a big ol' lesbian. OK, yeah it sucks that Brenda, the lesbian, gets saddled withmaternity as soon as she hits screens. (She's a surrogate for Jeff and his wife Audrey.) But she's a nice mix of femme and butch (long hair, flannel shirts) and gets to poke fun at the male misogyny that rules on Rules. Rue, you may recall, first got our attention playing a teenage Roseanne in a flashback scene, then played opposite Tammy Lynn Michaels and Carly Pope on Popular (which, was a breeding ground for lesbian icons because Michaels became the second Mrs. Etheridge and Pope starred in Jamie Babbit's lesbian film Itty Bitty Titty Committee).

4. Sam Harris occasionally stops by. Jackie, Brad's more flavorful boyfriend, isn't on as much as he should be because, well, dammit, this is Sam Harris, grand champion of the original Star Search, who sang "Sugar Don't Bite" (a gay anthem and a Top 40 hit in 1984). Star Search led to Motown, which led to his famous rendition of "Over the Rainbow" (a little gay hit you may have heard of before).

5. Sara Rue has had Sapphic smooches before. She famously kissed Lindsay Price on Eastwick. It was hot. Every lesbian media outlet endlessly recapped it like a Monday morning quarterback. So now every time Rue leans towards Audrey (played by Megyn Price) queer chicks can't help but hold their breath in expectation. It could happen. Rue also told reporters she'd like a girlfriend on screen (her number 1 pick? Katherine Moennig from The L Word) so we're holding out hope for that, too.

6. Megyn Price is a Stanford grad and former investment banker has gone our way before -- at least on screen. Price (who plays Audrey on Rules) is also the voice of Linda Memari, the bisexual Iranian American neighbor on the super queer Fox comedy American Dad. On that series, she's always hoping to seduce a hot blond. On this show she is the hot blonde, and we just have to hope she's open to being seduced herself. Like I said, it could happen.

7. If you squint, David Spade actually looks like Ellen DeGeneres. Spade plays randy horn dog Russell, but this SNL alum toys with gender and masculinity in such an over-the-top ridiculous fashion that it can't help but feel subversive. When he's being chided for his Mrs. Brady coif, for example, Russell retorts, "Florence Henderson, America's mom? Hmm, I'll take it!" Also, squint long enough and you won't be able to tell David Spade from Ellen, which makes the girl-crazy stuff kind of charming in that light.

8. Adam is gay. Well, bi. Well, OK, just metrosexual but that's pretty gay to viewers. Actually, Adam is played by Oliver Hudson who is, essentially, Hollywood royalty. His mother is Goldie Hawn, sister is Kate Hudson, and step mom is Cindy Williams of Laverne and Shirley fame. He's one of the hottest guys on TV and his character is the sole cruxes by which the men on Rules of Engagement measure their masculinity, their heterosexuality, and all of their fears of women and womanhood. In one episode, Brad thinks Adam is gay (technically, he has a girlfriend, Jennifer); in another, his love of a reality TV dancing show gets him pegged as less-than-straight, too. He may protest, but in reality, Adam is just fine with who he is -- and with all the angst projected onto him. This is best illustrated by the subversively queer episode in which Adam reveals he was a cheerleader (not a football player like his girlfriend had assumed) and he does a cheerleading routine in which he moves his booty while chanting about his team and the phrase, "but Pirates" is replayed again and again. (Get it? "But Pirates" sounds a lot like butt pirates?) Cheeky gay subtext I tell ya.

9. Patrick Warburton has gay honorability. The voice of the gay-seeming droid G2-4T on Disneyland's Star Tours II, and a voice actor in everything from Emperor's New Groove to Family Guy, Warburton is actually a gay advocate who isn't afraid to support us. He told, "I think I have a rather large gay following and I've always had great love for the gays... and compassion, actually. I mean, I had a manager who passed away from AIDS early on, and I was actually with the family members and friends at his bedside. You know, in this industry, throughout the years, you could have the most conservative family... you know I have four kids and have been married... but you end up working and having many gay friends throughout the years. I don't know what I'm trying to say, except that... I mean, only the most truly ignorant rube or ass has a real prejudice against them if they work in the industry and know or have worked with gay people." You gotta love him.

10. Bianca Kajlich and Adhir Kalyan who play Jennifer and Timmy respectively are both beautiful creatures. Kalyan, whose mother is a member of the South African Parliament, previously (convincingly) played a gay man in the cheerleading comedy Fired Up!

Adam is not gay

Adam cheering "but pirates" is cheeky gay subtext.

Adam is not gay. Can't tell anymore.

Adam likes a dancing show.

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