These transcripts were computer generated and have not been edited.
These transcripts were computer generated and have not been edited.
Brad Shreve [00:00:00]:
This is where we are TV’s portrayal of queer characters has changed over the decades. Back in 1958, I’ll leave it to Bieber the beads struggles after being the only boy invited to a girl’s party. Granted, that’s not lgbtq. And as far as I know, the bee wasn’t queer, But it is about gender, and that’s probably as close as you’re gonna get in late 1950s television. However, only 13 years later in 1971, our bunker on all in the family finds out a macho guy he admires is gay, though he refuses to believe it, and the word gay is never used in the episode. Move forward another 12 years, and we have St. elsewhere. Now, Grant, that is not a sitcom, but my opinion is one of the greatest TV shows of all time, and there’s an episode where one of the leads, Doctor Craig, as an old college roommate who’s getting gender affirming surgery. though of course, the wording was different back then. Then the big one in 1998, only 15 years after that, we had the premiere of Will and Grace where 2 of the primary characters are openly gay, and it became a hit. Since then, we know all hell’s broken loose. Now did TV influenced society, or was it mirroring the changes that were happening? That’s a really difficult question to answer. But it is a subject that Matt mom and I touch on this episode. On where we are, you’re gonna hear positive stories from people who survive struggles stayed optimistic during adversity or just have good old fund. You know that one governor who’s doing all that shit in that one state, it’s important info to know, but it’s plastered on the front of every online magazine and hits the news every night Believe it or not, there are plenty of good things going on too, and that’s what you’re gonna find right here. As for my guest, if you’re not familiar with Matt Baum, Where have you been? He has a YouTube sensation with 235,000 followers, and the description of his channel says he offers videos about pop culture history from a queer perspective, exploring behind the scenes stories about movies and TV shows that changed the world and the fast name people who made them. Now, that’s a pretty good description, but let me just say, you gotta watch it. It’s entertaining, and you’re gonna learn something. Matt’s also writer and a podcaster, plus he recently released a book. Hi, honey. I’m homo, which follows queer representation on sitcoms over the years. And typically, I don’t like the hawk products on this show, but it is a must read. I loved it. On top of all that, the two of us Just have fun talking about old sitcoms. At least the ones that featured queer characters, of course. I’m your host, Brad Shreve, and my guest is Matt Baum, and stay right there because we are. Matt Baum, I typically don’t gush over my guest, but I am so excited to have you on because my hubby Maurice and I have been fans of a YouTube channel for years and love everything you have to say about television. We have learned a lot and you make it entertaining. And just this weekend, I devoured your new book. Honey, I’m homo, and it was great.
Matt Baume [00:03:20]:
Oh, thank you so much. That really means a lot. I’m really glad you liked the videos. You liked the book. Really, honored to be here.
Brad Shreve [00:03:26]:
Now, Lester, I wouldn’t normally share this, but I think it’s important because It says a lot about Matt. When a guest agrees to be on the show, they are given this rule, and I’m gonna read it verbatim. If you are an author or someone who has a new or event to offer, I’m more than happy to discuss and promote it as part of our conversation. I want to help you succeed, but do not expect it to be the focus of the show, but I emailed Matt and I told him to ignore that role completely because, honey, I’m homo, is exactly what I want to talk about.
Matt Baume [00:03:59]:
Wonderful. I’m excited to talk about it.
Brad Shreve [00:04:01]:
Well, would you agree it kind of encapsulates all you’ve been doing over the
Matt Baume [00:04:05]:
Yeah. There’s a a lot of new stuff as well. So it was a great opportunity for me to revisit the YouTube videos that I’ve Been making for a long time about stories from behind the scenes of iconic TV shows and films from my own perspective, my own gay perspective on those stories, And so the book was a great opportunity to dive a little deeper and tell some more stories and get some more interviews. and really flesh out the the tales of basically how queer characters got on American sitcoms.
Brad Shreve [00:04:35]:
And, actually, I was gonna say we kind of gave an idea what your book and what your YouTube channel is, but we didn’t really get that much into it. So just kind of give people more of an idea what the book is.
Matt Baume [00:04:45]:
Yeah. So the title is, hi, honey. I’m homo, and it’s the story of queer characters on American sitcoms, the whole history of how they got there, and the people who tried to stop them, and how they succeeded and failed in various ways over the decades, but we start with bewitched and go all the way through the sixties into the seventies with shows like soap and all in the family, of course, into the eighties with the golden girls, into the nineties with friends, and Ellen will engrace into the 2000 modern family. And so I tell the story of what’s going on on screen and what viewers can see and and all the great jokes and comedy that’s going on on the shows. but also the behind the scenes story and also connecting it to what’s going on with queer liberation and the burgeoning gay rights movement and how quickly people’s lives were transformed by different activist approaches to fighting back against oppression, basically. and that sitcoms, which may seem like kind of a silly frivolous piece of entertainment, how they had a really major role, not just in portraying the story, telling the story of queer people’s lives, but also having an impact on the fight for equality.
Brad Shreve [00:05:50]:
I was thrilled when I saw the opening chapter was about bewitched. I was a big fan as a kid of Uncle Arthur, mainly because I thought it was a practical joker, but now looking back, I think it was a lot more than that than attracting me on Arthur. But I do have a question, Agnes Morehead. I think I heard that she had lesbian tendencies, but at the same time, I heard she was a very conservative Republican.
Matt Baume [00:06:12]:
Yeah. It’s a complicated story, and I think she was a complicated woman. She certainly was very religious and Also very private really did not talk about her personal life much at all, so it’s really hard to know for sure what we can say confidently about her personal There are rumors and a famously Paul Linde gave an interview where he said that she was a lesbian, I would not describe Paul as the most reliable narrator of other people’s lives, in fact, even his own life at times. So it’s really hard to say for sure. because it’s difficult to know what exactly Paul knew and what exactly he was telling is just a fantastic story. That having been said, it is wonderful to imagine Agnes Morehead, who played Indora, the very, gosh, commanding mother-in-law or mother on the show. It’s wonderful to imagine her having this fabulous lesbian personal life that she just kept to herself. But it’s also really hard to say definitively that we can know exactly the the story of her life.
Brad Shreve [00:07:10]:
Well, I like the joke that she was TV’s first drag queen.
Matt Baume [00:07:14]:
Oh, she certainly I like the aesthetics and the confidence I was talking to somebody the other day about Mrs. Roper on threes company. And the phenomenon of powerful, confident women, and and how a lot of gay men really idolize those characters, particularly fun subset of those characters, are the ones who dress so outrageously and have such a distinctive look And for sure, Indoora on bewitched had that, like, giant red hair, and she wore these purples and greens, and she was really an exciting looking woman Same thing with Missus Roper. And, you know, I’d also compare it to miss piggy who had an unconventional glamour just like these other women, but was really a a wonderful icon led by all people, but in particular, gay men who love when somebody can be confident despite not being perhaps what mainstream culture would consider standard traditional glamour, they’re able to find their own very personal style of glamour. I think there’s nothing very, very queer about that.
Brad Shreve [00:08:05]:
Well, I never thought about Missus Roper, but you are so right She was fun, open minded, and the way she dressed was something else. And, you know, it’s funny when I think of Agnes and her huge fun Boynton and those robs. And, again, this was indoor. I would play Samantha’s mom. And her husband, Maurice, played by Maurice Evans, He was just as grand as she was. Yes. And he was gay. Correct?
Matt Baume [00:08:31]:
That’s another one that to know for sure because a lot of these actors come from an era when you simply didn’t talk about your personal life much at all, no matter what your sexuality, and certainly if you were having relationships with people of the same gender or at least a gender that people did not expect you to at the time, it was rather taboo, and so it was kept sort of secret That hasn’t been said a lot of people have spoken about Marissa’s personal life and have led a lot of us to, given us a lot of material to speculate. But I also wanna be respectful of those folks. And if they didn’t describe themselves in a particular way, I don’t want to barge into their lives and say more about them than than they would have been comfortable saying about them. sales. So Maurice’s fantastic actor at another one of those iconic great comedians on stage and on screen. In fact, in his memoir, he talks about how reluctant he is to talk about his personal life. So hard to know for sure. That had even been said, a lot of people have given us a lot of really intriguing details about his relationship and the people who gave him comfort in life.
Brad Shreve [00:09:28]:
Well, and I agree with you. One thing I will say that to which was a first on, even though it was never said — Mhmm. was I think it was the 1st open relationship between Endora and Maurice.
Matt Baume [00:09:41]:
They certainly are not very much in each other’s lives. Are they?
Brad Shreve [00:09:46]:
No. They hardly knew each other, it seemed like. And — Yeah. — it seemed like they were always flirtatious with other people. It was never said, but I always assumed they were doing things on the side. I don’t know and didn’t care.
Matt Baume [00:09:57]:
Does seem a bit like a lavender marriage, you know, or a marriage of convenience very common particularly at the time for gay men and lesbians to have a convenient marriage either to — deflect suspicion or to access legal rights that, you know, were denied queer people. So I think it is very easy. You don’t have to a very long journey to read their marriage as 2 queer people who found each other very conveniently. They did have a baby. They did have Samantha. So, you
Brad Shreve [00:10:23]:
Matt Baume [00:10:23]:
however that act is formed by witches, we’ll never know. But there’s certainly nothing to say that they couldn’t have been pansexual, bisexual, or any number of sexualities.
Brad Shreve [00:10:34]:
If you wanna hear more guests like Matt Baum, here’s what you need to do. On the app that you’re using, look for the button that says, subscribe or follow. reach your finger over and click that button. From this point forward, you’ll be notified every time a new episode comes out and you won’t miss a single one. Well, now I have the big question, and this is either going to be hard for you to answer or easy, and I think this could be easy. What show had the biggest influence on queer representation on television?
Matt Baume [00:11:06]:
You’re right that it’s at the same time, easy to answer and difficult. If you wanna give have just a short, easy answer, I’d say all in the family. Yeah. I mean, it’s very difficult to point to any other show that would have had a bigger impact. However, it certainly wasn’t acting in a vacuum. So if you wanna have a very complete answer, I mean, it would take days because there were a lot of shows that had Impact’s big and small. I’d say soap was another one that had a very significant impact. I’d say the golden girls as well. Friends with repeated lesbian care on the show, even having a same sex wedding. Roseanne had a same sex wedding. Obviously, Will and Grace was huge. Obviously, Ellen was huge, but I’d say if we’re looking back further at classic shows, I would say you’d have to go to the seventies season 1 of all in the family in 1971. They have an entire episode called judging books by covers that is all about not making assumptions about people’s sexuality. And so you have a real variety of representation in that one episode. 1971, very easy. I mean, gotta remember this is 2 years on from Stonewall. A lot of people don’t think they’ve ever even met a queer person. Obviously, there are queer people everywhere. Everyone knows queer people lots of them. It’s just a question of whether they know it or not. But anyway, this show so daring to put a gay character, you know, an explicitly or as they could have been at the time. K character on the show, a character essentially comes out to Archie by the end of the episode, incredibly bold. Nothing like that had ever appeared on television. There’s certainly been characters who were either queer or hinted at, but for someone to be well adjusted and happy and healthy and for it not to be a big deal to them, And for the show to confront it, so so head on. Just amazing. And, you know, on the family, that certainly wasn’t the only gay character, but on the family would go on to have lots of queer characters over its run. Super, super brave, super bold of the show to do that.
Brad Shreve [00:12:48]:
Well, yeah, I mean, 1971 to have a gay character who wasn’t killer or didn’t die a horrible gruesome death. Yeah. Exactly. I remember that episode. Wow. What an impact it had.
Matt Baume [00:12:58]:
Yeah. Another fun detail about that is that it’s got the character whose sexuality we never really figure out, Archie suspects that this character Roger is gay because he’s got an Scott, and he’s fancy, and he wears lavender. I mean, it is easy to make assumptions about him, which is what the show, you know, very deliberately is in fighting the audience to do. And then the rug is kinda pulled out from under us by the end when the show kinda reveals that you can’t judge people just based on appearances, but that actor, Anthony Gary, would go on to be even the more iconic character, he was the Luke of Luke and Laura, the, iconic romance couple of daytime soaps. So the Luke and Laura that viewers in, I think, the eighties into the nineties would certainly recognizes the iconic romantic heterosexual couple of soap operas. He played a gay man. And as far as we know, this is something he spoke about openly. He was gay in real life, important for him, he said to play this character and all in the family and to have a more well rounded, more interesting gay character. I think really meaningful that They were openly gay people involved in the production of that episode.
Brad Shreve [00:13:53]:
Yeah. In general hospital, Luke and Laura were huge. Yeah. seemed like everybody watched it. I remember I wasn’t a big fan of it, but everybody talked about it, so I knew what was going on. Mhmm. And some, I think, Laura Vanis, and then there was a scene where Luke looked and there was Laura. And a buddy of mine was in his college dorm, and he said the whole dorm screamed in excitement
Matt Baume [00:14:15]:
That doesn’t surprise me. I mean, it’s hard to overstate. We we really don’t culturally have icons in the same way, but when you were much more limited in what you’re options were for viewing things, millions, literally, millions tens of millions of people would watch a television show, and we’d all have something universal to talk about the next day.
Brad Shreve [00:14:33]:
And he was the gay character that went to England on that all in the family episode, really? Early in his career. Wow. The other thing with Luke and Laura that you would not see today is, I don’t know if you know this, their relationship began. He raped her.
Matt Baume [00:14:47]:
Oh, I did not know that.
Brad Shreve [00:14:49]:
Yes. He raped her, and then, of course, eventually fell in love and got married. You would never have that today, or at least I hope you wouldn’t. Oh, my word. No.
Matt Baume [00:14:56]:
That is We we certainly have a different attitude about that, which
Brad Shreve [00:15:00]:
I think is
Matt Baume [00:15:01]:
wonderful that you wouldn’t see that today.
Brad Shreve [00:15:03]:
Yes. I agree. 100%. So there was also Beverly LaSalle — Yeah. — all in the family. And I gotta tell you, there’s two characters that when I was younger, I was ten. No. I was nine when all in the family came out. And I was kind of politically active way early. So I I was like their biggest fan from the very beginning if you can believe that. I loved my Saturday morning cartoons. and I loved all in the family at at nine years old. The two that really had the earliest influences on me were Billy Crystal, who played Jody and soap, Actually, there was, Corley on Dynasty, but Beverly La Salle, the drag queen, on all in the family. She was fabulous and she had a recurring role.
Matt Baume [00:15:43]:
Yeah. Yeah. Very rare at the time for a queer character. I mean, for one thing just to appear, But Beverly actually comes back as she gets a whole story line, and she becomes very close with the bunkers. She becomes a part of the family of all in the family. Edith specifically says you’re like, She says to Beverly, who’s a a drag character, you’re like a brother, well, like a sister, well, both rolled into 1, which is a really lovely way for I had a sexual person who was maybe not fully up to date on queer culture and terminology is it’s such a clear signal that Edith loves and respects this person, and it’s just lovely.
Brad Shreve [00:16:14]:
When I think of that time period, spoiler alert listeners, when Beverly was murdered, which was the 3rd episode I think she was on, not only did The characters on the show grieve her. I think the nation grieved her.
Matt Baume [00:16:26]:
Absolutely. Yeah. That was the shocking episode because her first episode is just the most fun silly comedy. Her second episode is one of those misunderstanding forces with schemes within schemes. And then there’s a very serious moment The 3rd is she you know, this appeared she appeared over 3 years, and the 3rd season that she appears, which I wanna say is season 8, I believe. It starts off like a great Christmas comedy and then again, the show pulls the rug out from under you as a viewer with this incredible tragedy that the writers wanted to have an episode that confronted Edith’s questioning of her faith, and it was difficult for them to find a reason why why would Edith have a crisis of faith? And It’s something that really shakes her is losing someone she’s so close with. And for that to be a queer character, to be a character who’s written as as a gay man doing drag, Although there are a lot of ways you can interpret the Beverly character, but that’s how the writers wrote her. It’s what they had in mind. For that to be something that was so important to her, I think is really meaningful. Archie has, I think, in that episode, a much more mainstream attitude, which essentially dismisses it and says, well, you know, he he’s not uncared but he says, you know, those people are always running into tragedies and those people are always getting into trouble and those people. He says, there’s essentially a she had it coming kind of approach to his attitude. And Edith doesn’t see it that way. And and the audience, as an audience, we’re really invited to sympathize with Edith there to say it doesn’t have to be that way, and it’s a tragedy, and it’s not that queer people had it coming. It’s sort of a bummer that a queer person’s essentially used as a means to advance a straight person’s story. And it is, of course, a huge bummer that we lost Beverly as a character in episode. Mhmm. Nevertheless, what an amazing episode and that we see how much the family loves and cares for her, that it’s considered a huge tragedy to loss, not to have Beverly around anymore. It’s sad, but also quite beautiful.
Brad Shreve [00:18:07]:
Yeah. I think the show is brilliant. Well, I wanna get into this open in just a moment, but I will say I absolutely loved soap. I watched every single episode.
Matt Baume [00:18:16]:
Great, Joe. Yeah.
Brad Shreve [00:18:16]:
But once it got into the space baby, I saw it watch, I don’t think I’ve watched any of that. Is was it the 3rd season?
Matt Baume [00:18:23]:
I believe the alien plot happens in season 2, actually. I think season 2 has the aliens and invisibility. Season 3 has Jodi. This sounds so strange because it starts as a somewhat grounded show. I mean, there’s still there’s like a demon possession in the first few episodes. Nevertheless, it’s a relatively emotionally grounded show. And then it it does become rather weird by season 3. Jodi’s character starts off as a really sympathetic gay character or, you know, queer. Yeah. You could you could read the character in a lot of different ways then by season 3, Billy Crystal is obviously trying different things. And, essentially, the character has a hypnosis experience that causes a past life reversion and he, for the rest of the series, plays the character as an elderly man.
Brad Shreve [00:19:09]:
Yeah. That was sad.
Matt Baume [00:19:11]:
Yeah. It’s a different direction. But again, I like seeing a show trying something weird.
Brad Shreve [00:19:16]:
What possessed you to devote so much of your life to history queers lgbtq people in TV.
Matt Baume [00:19:23]:
The short answer to that is that I just love television and love to sit down and spend time with what like my friends. They feel like real people on a great show, like the Golden Girls, for example, or so. They feel like real people, it kinda scratches that itch, particularly in the pandemic of having other people around you and and hanging out with people that you like. That’s kind of the short easy answer, but also, like I was saying before, particularly in decades past television could be a sort of Rosetta sowed. It was sort of a way for us to relate to each other and understand each other and have something universal to talk about. When an episode of Seinfeld aired the next day, you had a pretty good chance of running it to somebody else who had seen exactly what you did, who felt like they had spent time with the same friends you Yeah. It was a way of feeling like you belong to the same friend group, even with people that you had only just met. So I think there’s something really lovely and beautiful and communal about television. It also tells stories about our real lives. Even though these are fictional characters, the a lot of those stories from sitcoms in particular are drawn from what’s happening in the world as we see it. So I think television is a great way to it’s a great mirror for us to understand ourselves. And of course, it’s very influential. You know, we see stuff on television as a way for us to imagine the lives that we could have or the world that we could inhabit. So I think as as a way for us to understand our lives and to understand what the future might hold, I think television is extremely powerful. used to be a real snob about it. I used to be like, oh, television’s just junk food. It’s just a piece of furniture. It’s not art like film. And I’ve really come around on that where I you really feel that television is important and beautiful.
Brad Shreve [00:20:47]:
I’m not really a TV fan. I I was much earlier, but people are amazed how much I know about shows I have never seen. because I, as a writer, I do get into how was the story written and this sort of thing. So people think that strange that I I know so much about TV but you are like light years. and I can’t figure out, you not only know the background of the TV, you know, background of the writers and how the shows were developed, I’m just really impressed with how much you know. Do you have a life?
Matt Baume [00:21:18]:
Yeah. I mean, this is it. We’re we’re we’re looking at it. You know, spending time with classic stuff on screen, like classic television, classic films, that really is it’s just the most fulfilling, the most fun, the most entertaining stuff. And it’s not purely like I’m just staring at a screen all day because as solitary as it might feel sometimes to watch something on a screen, I think it’s actually a very communal, a very shared experience. because no matter what you’re watching, no matter when you’re watching it, you know, someone else has enjoyed the very thing that you’re enjoying right now, someone else has enjoyed that too. And those people are out there. And if you can find them and talk them to them about working on a thing about something like it hot right now. And the moment I bring that up with folks, everybody wants to talk about, like, their joke, their favorite character, their favorite moment, their costumes, the Broadway adaptation that’s playing right now, just saying the name of a piece of entertainment that you love. is a great way to find other people who you just know you’ve got something shared. You belong with those people.
Brad Shreve [00:22:12]:
That’s a really good point. Listen, I wanna tell you something that honey I am homo is it’s about the history of television, but it is so much more than that. Matt, you really captured a time capsule of American society. We’re following television over the years, but you’re really it’s about how society has changed.
Matt Baume [00:22:31]:
Yeah. Well, you know, television, it isn’t made in the vacuum. it is made by people who live in society. And so, of course, whether they mean to or not, they’re reflecting the real lives of people who live then. It’s wonderful. Like, I love watching those old shows and reading about them, even the stuff that was produced before I was born or before I was old enough to really understand it. It really does feel like time travel to read about be wedged or about soap. Feel like I’m jumping back to another time and feel so connected to the folk who are around then. You know, even, like, go even further back. I’m reading about Billy Wilder early in his career in the
Brad Shreve [00:23:00]:
Matt Baume [00:23:00]:
twenties thirties. And it feels like, meeting new friends. It feels like, it exploring a new world. yeah, it’s kind of this is gonna sound like a strange comparison. It feels a bit like a video game where you’re exploring a new level and building out a map, watching old movies, and then reading about they’re making feels like building a map of a real time, a real place with real people. And I I just love feeling connected to them.
Brad Shreve [00:23:23]:
Now in your book, you said that you believe TV helped people grow and become more accepting. And, I think there’s some truth to that. but which is more? Did TV affect society or does the society affect TV?
Matt Baume [00:23:36]:
Oh, well, I mean, super chicken and egg. I think, you know, TV certainly has an impact. I mean, for one thing that people would see individuals that they might never come into contact with in their real lives. especially when there were just 3 major networks. If there was a gay character on one show 1 night of the week, that meant that millions of people were suddenly coming into contact with an out gay character. Same thing for people with disabilities or people who were religious minorities or ethnic minorities, people who were in different socioeconomic strata, veterans, you know, like, whatever you wanna say, whatever different kinds of people there are, television had an opportunity to introduce you to different types of people. I think it really highlights how television failed to do that often. especially in decades past that was very homogeneous. Even as it was improving in the seventies and and eighties, there are a lot of stories that were left out. So I I still think television has ways to go in this streaming era. But how powerful to be able to turn on television and see, for example, the Jefferson’s and for millions of people to spend time with a affluent successful black family.
Brad Shreve [00:24:38]:
Yeah. I have remembered one of the very first episodes. Oh, who is the maid?
Matt Baume [00:24:43]:
Oh, Marla Gibbs, I’ve I can’t believe I forgotten her name.
Brad Shreve [00:24:45]:
She said something like when she finds out that the Jefferson are actually the ones that own the the the apartment She said something like, when did we overcome and no one told me or something like
Matt Baume [00:24:53]:
Brad Shreve [00:24:54]:
It’s a great line.
Matt Baume [00:24:55]:
Yeah. She’s wonderful. She’s what an incredible characters. She had a brief spin off for a little while that didn’t really work out and then she comes back. I like to have the longevity of Marley Gibbs is to be doing such amazing work. Another really iconic character and also actress, really just an amazing role model.
Brad Shreve [00:25:10]:
I hated to see her when they left Hatter pull away from the Jefferson since she went, to that working that hotel and Larry Lenvo was there, and that was a really boring show. So I’m glad when that was canceled, they brought her back.
Matt Baume [00:25:20]:
Yeah. You know, they can’t all be hit. But again, I you know, I’m glad they tried.
Brad Shreve [00:25:24]:
But a lot of times when they try that, they don’t bring the characters back. Like, I would love the Roper’s to have come back because I was not a fan of Donnotch. So I wanna jump on soap really quick because I really feel like I need to get to the golden girls. But as a kid growing up, soap meant so much to me. Just Billy Crystal, who was pretty much unknown. The only thing I remember before that was episode of All in the family. and he was actually a very annoying character. He’s Michael’s best friend. Yeah. Just to see a gay character openly gay was just as a kid that was closeted It meant so much to me. I still feel that way, even though he was really played horribly, just like Al Corley on Dynasty left because one Steven was always miserable. Well, fortunately Jodi on Dallas wasn’t always miserable. Or, Jodi on soap wasn’t always miserable. But Stephen quarterly left Dynasty because he was miserable, end of his shifting sexual identity, and they did that with Jodi on soap. Yeah.
Matt Baume [00:26:20]:
I think I don’t wanna say, like, they did something, you
Brad Shreve [00:26:24]:
know, I don’t wanna blame
Matt Baume [00:26:25]:
them essentially. I think that there were submissed opportunities. It wasn’t handled as well, but something that the actor, Leslie Jordan, says very graciously when talking about people who their hearts might have been in the right place, but they didn’t go far enough. he says of of people like his own father, they were doing the best they could with a light they had to see by. So I think Susan Harris who wrote soap was doing her best. I think Billy Crystal was doing his best. I think they could have done much better if they had taken a moment to talk to queer people and be like, hey. How are we doing? You know, could you come on and consult with us here? Could you let us know if we’re getting this right? Because I do think especially early in soaps run with Billy Crystal’s jody character, it’s very unclear. Is he gay or trans or bisexual or, obviously, he trans and gay and bisexual? You know, what is his identity? What is his orientation? seems as though the show itself doesn’t really know the answer to that. On one hand, that’s very interesting and exciting because it means that a lot of different people can identify with that and to give the character a reading that works for them, On the other hand, it it sure is confusing. So eventually, they kind of settled into him being gay, although he has more relationships with women than he does with men. But once again, doing the best could at the time. Yeah. I do think there’s a missed opportunity there with that character. Could have been better, but — Also, it could have been a lot worse.
Brad Shreve [00:27:33]:
Yeah. And you’re right. During that time, I didn’t catch all this. but looking back, because especially they did a real injustice to trans folks. And that was in the very first season, Jody wanted to stay in a relationship with the football player. he decides he’s gonna get a sex change. And then the football player says, no. I’m not gonna marry you anyway. And Jody says, okay. I’m not gonna get a sex change operation. No. It doesn’t work. Yeah. Yeah. It doesn’t work that way.
Matt Baume [00:27:57]:
It’s a real misunderstanding. Now I understand. Like, the show is meant to be sort of a satire soap operas. And and that certainly is the kind of, like, drama that you might see in soap opera. It’s very over the top and ridiculous and exaggerated. However, you know, that’s a reality of people’s of many people’s lives, or it’s at least an aspect of many people’s lives. And the the misapprehension of how that all works is I think not just silly and disappointing. I think it gives people just a a wrong impression of the world. So, yeah, it’s not great. especially because that character at one point says, he says to his mother, I’ve always felt like a woman. I mean, that sounds like how much more clear could he be. But then when he’s in the hospital, he doesn’t want to be in that relationship anymore. It’s very easy for him to forget the whole idea. So just an unrealistic depiction of people’s lives. So it wasn’t going for realism all the time, but I think it did entrench a misconception about real trans people that was not great.
Brad Shreve [00:28:50]:
Okay. I gotta get to the golden girls. Why are gay men so obsessed with golden girls?
Matt Baume [00:28:57]:
I think there’s a lot of reasons. I mean, a lot of things that are contributing to One of them is that the actresses themselves are rather beloved by gay people, you know, not to generalize too much. Obviously, there are gay people who don’t care about be Arthur and shocking though that may be. But I think that those actresses came to the show with a bit of a gay fan base already. They had appeared in various projects. All of them had appeared in various projects with explicitly gay characters. I mean, notably Estelle Getty in torch on trilogy on Broadway. I think there’s also an element of the show that involves Foundationally, the show is about a mostly chosen family. It’s about a group of people who most of them are not related by blood, but they have come together to support each other. There are also characters who might be overlooked or countered out or discounted by society, and yet they are given a lot of attention there heroes of their stories, and there are also people who have sex recreationally. There are people who have rich fulfilling sex lives and who really love having physical relationships with people. So I think there are a lot of things that gay viewers might relate to on the show. And of course, the show had a lot of gay characters on On the pilot, they had a gay houseboy named Coco. Sadly, he never comes back. Dorothy has a lesbian friend on one episode. They had an episode about HIV. That was really, wonderfully done. Blanche at one point helps a gay man propose to his partner, so it was a show that at a time when a lot of sitcoms were avoiding anything gay because it was the worst years of the HIV epidemic, the golden girls was not afraid to tackle queer characters and to have them there.
Brad Shreve [00:30:22]:
And older women having sex for god’s sake Who would have guessed that happens?
Matt Baume [00:30:26]:
Yeah. Remarkable. You know, in the same way, it was taboo in the same way that a lot of queer people might feel like their lives were considered taboo by society. So it’s a unlikely pairing, I think, or it might seem unlikely from the outside, gay men and women of a certain age, but just spend a few minutes with it. And, of course, of course, it makes perfect sense.
Brad Shreve [00:30:45]:
Okay. The big question I have because this has driven me crazy for years. Charles Nelson Riley gay man, Paul Lynn, gay man, Rick Taylor, bisexual, but they were all over the top. Sure. Was the public turning a blind eye, or were they really that naive?
Matt Baume [00:31:01]:
That’s a great question. I think for a lot of folks who might not have ever had exposure to queer people, for folks who just didn’t want to think about it, it was very easy not to think about it because as a social taboo, he didn’t have to. It was very easy to say, you know, as Archie often does, don’t talk about that Gloria says something like, I think Gloria’s in one episode is talking about having her period or or she’s pregnant.
Brad Shreve [00:31:21]:
Matt Baume [00:31:21]:
says the word pregnant. She’s like, do you have to use the word pregnant? It sounds like you’d done something. meathead says we did. Yeah. But, yeah, I know. Very easy for people to just, like, look away and not wanna talk about it at all. And, you know, which is what made progress very slow of at for a long time. I think for a lot of the audience, it was just easy to avoid it altogether, but that, you know, those days are behind us, and it could always come back. It could always go back to just how it was, you know, history is a pendulum. However, I would like to think that the days of Paul Lind making jokes about about fairies on Hollywood squares and people being like, oh, I just never knew. I’d like to think that those days are behind us for good.
Brad Shreve [00:31:59]:
Oh my god. His I could get on YouTube and watch him nonstop with his answers on Hollywood Squares. Yeah. Oh my goodness. Absolutely brilliant. And, again, if you didn’t know he’s gay from those answers, oh, come on. But other than that, Paul, Paul, I could see people not really catch him, but Charles Nelson, Riley, and Rip Tyler, for Tyler. for god’s sakes or his flamboyanters could be. But anyway
Matt Baume [00:32:20]:
I think Charles Nelson, in particular, you know, we remember him very fondly for a lot of his comedic roles. He was also a dramatic actor. I mean, he was just another great stage actor who was often put in roles that were quite easy for him. But when he got a really challenging role, he really rose to the occasion. thinking in particular. I think one of my favorite Charles Nelson Riley appearances on the X Files in the episode, Jose Chung from Outer Space where it plays Jose Chung, and a writer and he’s making so many fascinating choices as a performer. We don’t get a lot of time with him on screen, but he is so compelling. He’s such an amazing guy. I could watch Charles Nelson Riley in any role any day, but I really love him when he’s not going for the big laughs when he can be subtler. and to see subtle Charles Nelson Riley is really incredible.
Brad Shreve [00:33:03]:
And I think he must have worked in or lived in New York because whenever David Vladimir wouldn’t have a up, he would bring Charles Nelson Riley on, and I was always so glad that happened.
Matt Baume [00:33:11]:
That was Johnny, actually. So Charles did he split his time between the coast, but he was, Charles Nelson Riley was a frequent Johnny Carson fill in because he actually he lived close to Johnny’s studio. So it was not difficult for him to get in the car and drive down.
Brad Shreve [00:33:22]:
I wonder who it was on It’s not for sure it was him.
Matt Baume [00:33:25]:
Oh, it was probably, I always forget his name, but it’s another guy. If we’re thinking of the same guy, he had thick glasses, Calvin something,
Brad Shreve [00:33:33]:
Oh, no. You’re thinking the the the guy that wasn’t an actor that he always played this very dry character.
Matt Baume [00:33:38]:
Perhaps. Yeah. He, there were so many characters on letterman, and I cannot remember guy’s name. It’s it’s something Calvin, but another one who had a over the top flamboyance that was just a very fun to watch.
Brad Shreve [00:33:48]:
Well, Matt, I had so much fun talking to you about all these TV shows. And —
Matt Baume [00:33:53]:
Calvert DeForest. Sorry. I just had to jump in. Calvert DeForest was his name. Just remembered.
Brad Shreve [00:33:57]:
Oh, yes. and they called him bud something. Larry Budmellman. Larry Budmellman. Yes. He was awesome. This is awesome.
Matt Baume [00:34:04]:
Great guy. Anyway, sorry. Sorry to jump in.
Brad Shreve [00:34:07]:
Just couldn’t let it go. That is get where people showing up at David’s door for Thanksgiving. And he brought in turkey. And he said there’s nothing that goes with turkey like turkey. But anyway, I thought that was hysterical. It’s probably not that funny as I talk about it. Folks, it’s honey. I’m homo. It’s a great book. Gotta read it. I was very limited on time. I got the audio book, which Matt narrates and did a fabulous job. You know, I’ve written a couple of books I wouldn’t even consider narrating my own books. If people wanna get a hold of you, I know they can find you on YouTube and definitely go do that. What is the best way to follow you other than YouTube?
Matt Baume [00:34:41]:
Well, I mean, you could just go right to my website. There’s a lot of opportunities there to follow me whatever makes sense. I’m on YouTube with videos about pop culture history. Got a video in the works about something like it hot, and I just put up a bunch about all in the family and Norman Lear. I also do live streams every Sunday on Twitch, so you can jump over to Twitch and hang out with me live. We watch classic films. We watch old TV shows, commercials. We jump into old TV guides. If you like classic entertainment, we just spend a lot of time talking about that every Sunday. also on Twitter and blue sky, Instagram, Facebook, all those. And, I’ve got a weekly newsletter. You can go to my website mattbound.com. Every week, I set out a story about entertainment history. I just sent one out this week about some like it hot and some maybe ill considered words that Tony Curtis had about Marilyn Monroe that caused a bit of a controversy before the film came out. So it’s behind the scenes story of of why Tony Curtis compared kissing Marilyn Monroe to kissing Hitler. So check out my newsletter for that.
Brad Shreve [00:35:37]:
Well, I had no idea you had a newsletter. As soon as we’re done, I’m gonna sign up for it, and I had a blast. Thank you.
Matt Baume [00:35:43]:
Thank you so much. I really, really enjoyed talking to you.
Brad Shreve [00:35:48]:
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