With "The New Normal" set to premiere on NBC this fall, it's important to take a look back and remember some of the other gay-themed television series that have sought to bring increased visibility and acceptance to the people of the LGBT community. From the dramatic to the funny, these television series gave the mainstream a glimpse into the world of the LGBT individuals. Just as importantly, they showed the world that this was a community that was as full of diversity and different types of personalities as its mainstream counterpart.
When it comes to edgy, the series "Queer as Folk" certainly takes the cake. Full of sex, drugs, and loads of drama, this Showtime series was a trailblazer in many ways. While the vision it projects of LGBT life is not necessarily universal, many should remember that prior to its premiere there were very few shows that even talked about the issues facing the LGBT community, let alone focused on that community in any meaningful way. Just as importantly, this series was just plain fun to watch with characters that you could actually care about and struggles that were, in many ways, identifiable to anyone, regardless of sexual orientation.
For those with a more G-rated taste, the series "Will and Grace" was the LGBT program of choice. For all that it sometimes fell into some stereotypes, the characters on this show actually portrayed quite a lot of depth, and they weren't afraid to deal with some of the serious issues, as well. Throughout it all, however, it remained focused on the powerful and often vexed relationships among its four lead characters, showing us the unifying power of friendship. Again, the series was just eminently watchable, with a humor that was often as witty as the banter among its leads. And besides, how can you not love a show that features a woman like Karen Walker?
Finally, we come to this cable drama, which serves as a prequel to the independent film of the same name. Focusing on the struggles of a closeted young actor and his incredibly zany family, the series was campy and delicious in a way that only LGBT-themed TV series can be. Of particular note was the appearance of the darling Rue McClanahan, who really brought all of her enormous charm and personality to the series. At times touching and always funny, this is a gay-themed comedy that you really shouldn't miss. The only drawback is that there is, unfortunately, only one season to enjoy, but they sure manage to pack a lot into that one season. And there's always the movie.
Clearly, the LGBT community has become a very visible part of the world, and these television series make us realize just how diverse the community is. Just as importantly, these series also show us that members of the LGBT community often face the same struggles, the same heartbreaks, and the same triumphs as members of the straight community. With their combination of social activism, social awareness, and storytelling that is almost always at the top of its game, these TV programs make for eminently great viewing for anyone. Hopefully, "The New Normal" will be able to partake of this fine tradition and provide us with hours more of great entertainment.