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In the past, most TV series, for instance, Father Knows Best portrays the family as a perfect union between a female mother and a male father with well-raised children. Their relations were the source of admiration for audiences across America. However, in the modern days, TV series are keeping up to the exploration of the change in culture, diversity, and social trends and the result is a complete contrast to the “perfect picture.” For example, TV families have shows that portray issues like single fatherhood or motherhood, interracial marriages, lesbian and gay parenting among others.
The way Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) characters have been portrayed on TV has changed over time. Neal Martins and David Rosenthal produced Ellen, and it premiered on ABC TV in 1994. In 1997 during season four of Ellen, Ellen DeGeneres plays the role of Ellen Morgan, the main character. At the end of the fourth season, she reveals that she is a lesbian in “The Puppy Episode.” All the characters around her react differently to her sexual orientation (1994). Paige Clark (portrayed by Joely Fisher) is Ellen’s best friend and does not accept her friend’s sexuality. Ellen’s mother is also in shock her daughter’s sexual orientation. Adam Green (portrayed by Ayre Gross) had a crush on Ellen. Earlier on, Ellen had cheated Adam that she also has feelings for him. After Ellen reveals her sexuality to the public, Adam feels immensely betrayed and confused. Audrey Penny (portrayed by Clea Lewis) is Ellen’s irritating neighbor. Ironically, she is the only person in the whole cast who is supportive of Ellen’s sexual orientation (The Puppies Episode, 1994). In this show, the LGBT persons have been portrayed as “social outcasts” whose feelings should be ignored. This episode reveals how society denies and directly discriminates people with different sexual orientations. In addition to that, the show reveals the rigidity of society because it rejects changes and different opinions.
In ABC’s Modern Family, the show features gay parents, Cameron (portrayed by Eric Stonestreet) and Mitch (portrayed by Jesse Tyler Ferguson) (2009). The show was produced by Levitan Steven and Lloyd Christopher and premiered on ABC TV in late 2009. This show is about two gay men who are parents of a Vietnamese infant. In this show, gay parents have been portrayed as believable human beings who are trying their best in parenthood. The show is very dimensional because it keeps off the gay marriage stereotypes and flaws. In addition to that, Modern Family portrays a healthy and loving family irrespective of the sexual orientation of both parents (2009). However, one of the shortcomings of the show is the lack of display of affection. The show illustrates a stable family relationship although Mitch and Cameron do not kiss, touch, or show their sexual attraction toward each other. On one exception, the couple shares a very brief kiss. This highlights the problems and controversies that surround the way LGBT persons are treated by society.
Both shows portray different opinions and responsibilities that people have over their sexual life. They also show how society receives those people in the real life settings. For instance, in the 1990’s, people were so reluctant to reveal their sexual orientation because they feared sexual discrimination. However, as societal structures change, people have found it easier to express their opinions than before.
In both shows, information dissemination about the sexuality of characters is very different. In Ellen, the audience gets to know about the sexuality of Ellen in the fourth season. In the Puppy Episode of Ellen, Ellen reveals her sexuality through a gag at the airport as she talks to Laura Dern (1994). Unfortunately, Dern had turned on the intercom microphone and everyone in the terminal is in shock after hearing the news. Betty, Ellen’s real mother does not receive the news well. After Ellen reveals her sexuality, the audience goes into a frenzy. The rating of the show start to decline and ABC feels the pain of hosting the show. Religious anti-gay groups and Republicans who do not support the LGBT persons unleash a severe backlash. In the last episodes of the show, even the mainstream media take sides on the issue; the show is pulled from air by mid-1998, after airing five seasons. On the same line, the presentation of gays in Modern Family is direct. From the beginning, the audiences know that the show is about gay parents. Therefore, it is up to the audience to make a personal choice on whether they should watch the series or not. On the contrary, the audience decline to watch Ellen, because they were not psychologically prepared over her sexual orientation even though she had revealed it during the Oprah Show.
Over the past decades, the society’s perception towards LGBT persons has transformed. The world is almost in total acceptance of relations of LGBT persons who are of legal age. The issue of gender roles has also evolved over time. People are embracing modern ways of living and not necessarily the traditionally defined roles. The LGBT persons have taken the centre stage when it comes to the “new” family set ups. Today, the public is more receptive of LGBT persons although than in the 90’s when Ellen revealed her sexuality and this is why the Modern Family show has not been pulled off air.
In conclusion, morality feelings, laws, and supposedly public embarrassment have made LGBT persons to avoid displaying their affection in public. Modern Family is a good example of censured feelings. Mitch and Cameron kiss briefly because a prolonged display of affection may attract a public backlash and may have detrimental effects on the show’s ratings. LGBT supporters believe that someday, society will accept their different choices over sexual orientation thanks to the pop culture and human rights supporters.
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