CBS: Eyeing More Than Just An Image Change?


According to an article in The New York Times, CBS is adding three gay roles to its prime time line-up this fall because it is lagging behind the other networks.  Lagging behind?  Sounds like we are the latest technology, and CBS is upgrading to the new 3”G”.  Typical of CBS, in their new quest to keep up with the DeGeneres’, they are already obsolete.  Haven’t they heard that all the gay chic networks are 4G now?

Last week in a sit-down with television media, Nina Tassler, CBS entertainment president, said the network is adding the new gay characters “because we’re very disappointed in our track record so far.”  GLAAD, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, gave CBS a failing grade in its recent report on the quantity and quality of LGBT representation on the network.  This comes as no surprise.  CBS is a network littered with two-note characters in a symphony of cop shows and crime dramas where graphic murder is more often allotted the starring role.  Just how many NCIS’s, Criminal Minds, and CSI (add your geography) are there?

According to Ms. Tassler, CBS is adding a gay character to The Good Wife, a lesbian character to Rules of Engagement and a gay character will be written into the new September sitcom, Shit My Dad Says.  Yes, I really wrote the word.  I have to admit, I am a little confused about the need for inclusion on The Good Wife.  Last season we were given a glimpse of the anticipated development of the bisexual, female investigator and what seemed like the coming out storyline of a gay teenage son.  However, according to,  Robert King, EP of The Good Wife, says the new gay character will be Alicia Florrick’s (Julianna Margulies) irresponsible, younger brother. When asked how large the part will be, and if we will see this character on a regular basis, King said that he would like to say yes, but, “It really comes down to the schedule of the actor.”  Well, you don’t have to be a Navajo windtalker to break that code.

As I Googled deeper to find out about the lesbian role added to the cast of Rules of Engagement, I had to shake my head a little.  Does a lesbian nuclear chemist move in next door?  No.  Does a lesbian teacher or doctor or therapist become germane to one of the children characters?  No.  Hold on to your fedoras my Sapphic sisters, Jeff and Audrey’s surrogate will be a member of Jeff’s softball team, and she is a lesbian.  Way to step out of the box (so to speak), CBS.  Add that to the fact there is so much anticipatory buzz around the new comedy, Shit My Dad Says, anything short of making William Shatner gay wouldn’t make a ripple.  So, GLAAD, what was that about quality of the always supporting LGBT role?  Honestly, I have my doubts that advocate pressure or, quite frankly, the midnight visits of the gay apparitions of Pride past are the definitive answer to the change in diversity of the corporate owned network heart.

My cynical side says always follow the money.  In a press release, citing the latest gay and lesbian marketing results, the LGBT community is more optimistic in their economic future and are now ready to begin spending their $743 billion, yes billion, in buying power.  That’s a hell of a lot of Subaru’s, many bytes of the Apple, and quite a few trips to Target…well, maybe not as many trips to Target.

In today’s political atmosphere, a CEO is willing to put a bullseye on his company’s good community reputation in exchange for a couple of campaign contributions, a few corporate-retail tax breaks, and a seat at the tea party next to Michele Bachmann.  Come on CBS, don’t insult my intelligence by telling me you are suddenly dissatisfied with your sparse gay track record.   Except, I might add in your reality shows where you can’t toss an immunity totem over your shoulder without hitting a gay.  Let’s face it, overall consumer confidence is down, but gay confidence is up.

Though I am a cynic at heart, I am always willing to give one the benefit of the doubt.  I think some refer to that as hope.  The Good Wife is a good drama that I actually watch.  It is my hope that CBS will follow through with the show’s LGBT storylines already in development and use the new character as a complement, perhaps as a mentor for the teenage boy.   But, CBS, you have to help me understand; why add a lesbian to the cast of Rules of Engagement?  Do you hear how hysterically ironic that is?  Just in case you haven’t heard from Focus on the Family, Family Research Council, or Michelle Malkin regarding your upgrade to 3G (but I’m sure you have), there is only one engagement rule for gays in this country…thou shalt not.   Now, let’s do something about canceling that reality programming.