Saturday, January 28, 2012

Is Bravo The Gayest Network in Television?

Brad Gorenski, the star of It's a Brad Brad World
In a word, yes. Is it too campy is the real question, and is there a thing as 'too campy'? I would argue that there is, considering the latest addition to the superfluous roster of the network's many similar shows; It's a Brad Brad World. Nice job on the naming by the way, puns are always hilarious...or are they? If you're wondering, they gave Rachel Zoe's former assistant a show. At least at E! You have to be related somehow to a reality superstar or at least part of their personal plight, but apparently on Bravo all you need is a hot pink leisure suit, comically oversized dickie bow, and an exaggerated lisp. 
Bravo has been pandering to the gay demographic by appearing to keep them from marginalization when in truth all they are really doing is perpetuating stereotypes about the gay community (particularly the male gay community) and making them into wildly embellished caricatures of themselves. It's a skewering of culture and identity we haven't seen since the Men on Film sketch on In Living Color. Brad Goreski is so obnoxious that it's difficult to see why people would find him remotely interesting because he apparently has little to no talent as a bona fide designer, nor room for improvement. But Bravo insists on painting him out to be the next Roy Halston. 
Executive Andy Cohen has made some bold choices since he took over the network and decided to make it as fabulous as can be which started with the pivotal Real Housewives of... franchise. But it's difficult to think that Bravo could be as influential as Queer as Folk (2000 - 2005) at bringing a gay sensibility to the mainstream. Most of the network's programming is reality fluff rather than an accurate representation of anything, but then again by that definition does that make them masterpieces in camp? Are Michael Musto, D.A. Miller, and the ghost of Andy Warhol tuning in daily at the edge of their seat to see Watch What Happens Live? Is Bravo really our last bastion of camp? Or is camp dead all together and Bravo's efforts completely futile?
This season of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills introduced a new character, wedding planner Kevin Lee who is not unlike the Martin Short character from Father of the Bride (1991) in every way imaginable and in every scene seems to be doing snaps in Z formation and saying 'Beverly Hills darling, chic chic chic'. 
The answer to all of the above is 'probably'. This is assuming that camp culture and gay culture are mutually exclusive. And the thing is, that Bravo's programming would be entertaining if it wasn't so exploitive. There seems to be one kind of gay man on this network; the contemporary dandy. He always wears tailored clothing even when in bed, he makes up words, is facetiously materialistic, and is somehow asexual. He has a career in either fashion, interior design, or wedding planning and has little to no personal life to speak of. Basically he is a walking stereotype comparable to the stock character known as the 'sissy' that Hollywood used in the 1930's before being gay was truly explored in the cinema. And it's rather sad to think about how much time has gone by and how many changes in our culture have occurred since people actively misrepresented communities that they didn't understand, but it seems that Bravo is an example of just how little has truly changed in entertainment. Lifetime, a network supposedly 'by women, for women' is constantly under scrutiny because every woman on that network seems to always in the same position in life. It too, is a slated portrayal of the very demographic it claims to exalt. If Bravo really wanted to cut it's teeth on being the foremost in gay programming, it needs to move on to some new territories and explore ALL aspects of gay life and culture rather than the over-simplified and rather amateurish that it currently broadcasts.
Here is what my fellow writer and blogger and very dear friend Sean Chumley had to say on the matter:

any gay man that turns up on Real Housewives is incredibly effete, and any others that have their own shows are typically so awful at being human beings that I can't even stand watching the commercials for the show. One thing I've noticed is everyone's "favorite" Real Housewife Bethenny is shockingly homophobic. She refers to her gay best friend as her "token gay," expresses horror when visiting The Big Gay Ice Cream Truck, and was incredibly homophobic when talking with a gay PETA representative. I'd say the one glimmer of hope on the network is a lesbian. Tabatha Coffey is sassy, likable, stylish and no-nonsense. She kind of plays with stereotypes when she's working with gay men, but she does it in a way that implies she knows these people are so much more than stereotypes. 

I completely agree. While we're on the subject, here is a link to his fantastic blog

Shanaca Speaks

Lately Bravo has seen how their own methods can backfire when the star of one of their most popular shows Patti Stanger, the Millionaire Matchmaker made some incredibly offensive and homophobic comments on their other show Watch What Happens Live proving that for all of her 'worldliness' she was just was one of the most closed-minded reliant-on-stereotypes people out there that Bravo perhaps unwittingly put on the air much to their dismay. The network has since apologized for her comments and cancelled her show and rightfully so. To his credit, Andy Cohen was able to stand his ground and contradict blatant insults that Stanger was throwing out throughout the program.
Here's what happened:

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