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They're Here, They're Queer, We're Over It

TV's most famous gay character is hardly its first.

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If you were trapped on Mir. last spring, you might have missed Ellen DeGeneres's coming out as a lesbian on her eponymous TV show. It got some people all in a lather--especially the religious right, I and most especially Jerry Falwell. The Moral Majority leader moaned on Larry King Live, "I don't know why we cannot, like 15 years ago, have television contributing to the task of raising good, healthy, and well-adjusted children, rather than destroying that enterprise."

Guess what, Jerry.. Not only do we have television, that's "like 15 years ago," we have, television that's from 15 years ago. It's called reruns, you pontificating idiot. Chicagoans can watch 14 programs from the 1982 primetime lineup, including such good, healthy fare as Dallas, Dynasty, Falcon Crest, and The Dukes of Hazzard. The 1982 season featured three shows offering gay themes: one with an openly gay character (Dynasty), one with a heterosexual character pretending to be gay (Three's Company), and one where the leading character was supposed to be gay even though nobody ever actually said it out loud (Love, Sidney, starring Tony Randall).

Here's a synopsis of recently rebroadcast shows, which a certain well-adjusted McVeigh boy was probably watching on their first run in 1982.

THE DUKES OF HAZZARD

(Now showing weekdays on TNN at 5 PM, 6 PM, and 11 PM.)

Uncle Jesse's second cousins sell their dirt farm for $250,000 and pull up at the Duke dirt farm in a Rolls-Royce. Through an unlikely series of machinations, a suitcase full of money is mistakenly appropriated and must be chased by many cars that wreck a lot. A garbage truck dumps trash on a police car, Boss Hogg gets spray-painted, Luke and Bo stop the bad guys with explosive tipped arrows, and Catherine "Daisy Duke" Bach fulfills her contractual obligations by wearing nothing but short shorts, CFM heels, and tight V-neck T-shirts.

Contributions to your formative years:

THEORY: Police are stupid.

COROLLARY: Hillbillies aren't real bright either.

Catherine Bach, who probably supported the 80s bikini wax industry.

DYNASTY

(Now showing weekdays on FX at 9 AM.)

A twisting labyrinth of a story caught in a disturbing web of feathered hairstyles. In this episode, Krystle is at Delta Rho Stables, apparently a sorority for horses. Rock Hudson is there too. But he is leaving to smuggle guns into Paraguay. Krystle does not know this or she surely wouldn't be letting him kiss her in the photographs taken by a mysterious stranger who sends them anonymously to her husband, Blake. Blake's on business in Acapulco. His ex-wife Alexis is there too, messing up Blake's big oil lease deal with the Chinese and arguing with her boy-toy hubby Dex. Dex is hitting on Amanda, who is Alexis's daughter--we know this because they both have English accents. Amanda has a one-night stand with Prince Michael of Moldavia, who also has an English accent but so far is not related. Amanda and the prince have sex in the shower the next morning, but he can never see her again because he's marrying some duchess.

Meanwhile, Blake's son Steven has broken off his gay relationship with Luke so he can get back together with Claudia and live a "normal" family life.

He tells Luke that he, uh, um, could never be, you know, comfortable in "that" lifestyle. Luke replies, "The 'gay' lifestyle, Steven, you don't have to whisper it--they don't stone us in the village square anymore." From across the street, Claudia sees Steven meet Luke. Thinking it's a tryst, she does the healthy thing, getting drunk with Steven's brother Adam and asking him to sleep with her.

Contributions to your formative years:

THEORY: Never mind, your own family--even the Manson Family is only mildly dysfunctional compared to the Carringtons.

FACT: If you also watched The Big Valley reruns after school and you knew Linda Evans would be forever typecast as "a girl too impetuous to play it safe," you're probably gay

Exposure to Rock Hudson, who was gay.

DALLAS

(Now showing weekdays on TNN at 10 AM, 3 PM, and 10 PM.)

J.R.'s ex-wife, Sue Ellen, has made a major motion picture. J.R. is desperate to find the master and destroy it before it is released. Post-Pam Bobby is having a meaningful relationship with April, who's maybe being stalked over the phone by psychotic druggie Tommy McKay, son of the owner of Southfork's biggest competitor, West Star. Tommy has an alibi: he's been drying out in Florida under the watchful eye of Bobby's former post-Pam girlfriend, Tracy. But later we find that Tommy is the stalker anyway, when he thanks Boomer for making the phone calls and asks him to build a bomb that will instantly vaporize anything within ten feet. Cliff is searching for Athena, who has his daughter. Athena has just released a mega hit record but, oddly, no one can find her. So Cliff flies to South Carolina to beat up a man who took money from him.

Contributions to your formative years:

THEORY: For the most part, Dynasty was way better than Dallas.

FACT: On the high end, it cost 50 cents for a barrel of crude oil at that time.

USELESS TRIVIA: You can always get a drink at the Southfork ranch.

THREE'S COMPANY

(Now showing on Fox at 11AM.)

Utilizing the plot device that worked so well for every other episode of Three's Company, there is a case of mistaken identity. Jack tells Janet's date he's her brother rather than admit that he's sharing the apartment with her and Chrissy. Landlord Mr. Roper, believing Jack is gay, tells Jack he's lucky because he will never have to "hang shelves" with his wife. Then, in an unlikely series of machinations, Jack mistakes Chrissy for his date, who believes Chrissy is Jack's sister. Seeing Jack kiss Chrissy, the date--who is evidently a TV critic--screams that they are all sick and flees the room.

Contributions to your formative years:

THEORY: In the 80s it was more socially acceptable to be gay than to have platonic relationships with the opposite sex.

FACT: In the 80s it was more socially acceptable to make vulgar jokes about not enjoying sex with your wife than to be gay.

Suzanne Somers, who has changed so little in 15 years it's safe to assume her plastic content prevents her from ever biodegrading.

TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT

(Now showing on Fox at 11:30 AM.)

Henry's daughters, who live downstairs and look absolutely nothing alike, want to vacation in England. They facilitate this by exchanging apartments with a couple from London. Hilariously, Henry mistakes the English couple for gun smugglers and possible political assassins. Henry and the weirdly fey Monroe are caught searching the couple's luggage and Henry's wife calls a SWAT team.

Contributions to Your formative years:

THEORY: Gun smuggling and mistaken identities were widespread problems in the 80s.

THEORY: Being associated with the stupendously bad acting of those girls who played his daughters probably drove Ted "Henry" Knight to an early grave.

FACT: The cast of The Mary Tyler Moore Show should have retired.

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