video: Oh, nice!
Finally a post that isn’t about the snow! Of course, I can still see plenty of it from my windows, but I can also see some–unfortunately–successful efforts to dig out of it. There are clear sidewalks all over and I can see bits of road peeking out. I tease a friend over really wanting a snow day, but I admit that I’d like to have one myself. Our snowstorms have been nearly completely–and inconveniently–timed on weekends. Whatever happened to that middle of the week, city-halting storm!?
Anyway, being snowed in meant looking forward to my usual in-house Saturday evening pursuit: Britcoms on public television! I get two local PBS stations and one was playing the shows as normal while another decided to put on a pledge drive. This is annoying even at the best of times, but it was also obvious that they just whipped out an old pre-recorded pledge drive since the phones were completely staffed and they didn’t make mention of the snow, not once! They were attempting to flog some Keeping Up Appearances merchandise while showing the cheesy clip show Life Lessons from Onslow with Geoffrey Hughes in the studio to talk about the show and make the usual appeals for donations to support Public Television.
I agree that PBS is important, but what I don’t agree with is what I heard during a lighthearted Q&A. The host was asking questions about the show and the inevitable question came up about the character Sheridan, Hyacinth’s never-seen son:
[flv:hughes.flv 512 390]
No one will deny that there was a strong implication that the character of Sheridan was gay. It was always mentioned that he had won prizes for what some might consider feminine artistic pursuits, noted that neither he nor his roommate Tarquin were interested in girls and that he and his roommate were often going camping or on holiday together. It was a cute joke, and while one might have been able to take some offense at his father’s reactions to news of his son, never saying outright that the character was gay, took a bit of the load off. It was just as easy to interpret it as his disappointment in his son being a dilettante who could never cut the apron strings and constantly rang home asking for money. The fact that he was never seen over the course of the series made it even funnier because even though he called often for money, he was the one character of the family that had actually escaped Hyacinth!
Absolutely Fabulous created a similar situation in the character of Edina’s son Serge who we also never saw, but became very clear from the first episode that while he was Edina’s favorite child, he’d taken off and wanted nothing to do with her. Jennifer Saunders had been approached by so many fans who said “Serge is gay, isn’t he?” that she made a special episode where she goes to find him and yes, he is gay while at the same time being just as “dull” as her daughter Saffron. I love AbFab, but that episode did not impress, mainly because the “unseen son” joke was working just fine and was a dependable staple of the show that, by revealing him, she’d more or less killed off.
Now, I have no idea if Geoffrey Hughes is homophobic, or if this taping took place when he had a serious case of jet lag combined with being up all day and night for appearances and to film pledge drive segments, but the way the host laughed and you could see others in the studio chuckling as well really bugged me. Implying that showing a homosexual character wouldn’t have qualified the show as wholesome is ridiculous. If anything disqualifies Appearances from being wholesome, it was Rose’s habit of dating and sleeping around with married men. Or, at the time, Bruce’s predilection for wanting to wear his wife’s clothing, their constant fighting and their dual admissions that the only reason they stay together is because of his money.
And I know that it was just a throwaway line that he thought would be funny, and clearly it was to those present, but why MPT’s choice to rebroadcast that bit of obviously–by now–canned footage without review and editing it is disappointing. I won’t stop watching, even though I now own all of my favorite British shows that they play, but it stuck in my craw that no one would call him on that or at least show a note of surprise. Or as his character Onslow might remark, “Oh, nice!” 🙄