It was reported yesterday that network TV’s longest-running sitcom, Two and a Half Men, will work a “gay” marriage and adoption story into it’s final season. Why the big “gay” quote marks? According to CBS entertainment chairman Nina Tassler, Ashton Kutcher’s character Walden experiences a health scare that causes him to reexamine his playboy lifestyle. This results in him wanting to adopt a child. So far, not so bad.
Here’s where the quote marks come in handy… The adoption process proves too difficult for Walden as a single, straight dude, so he does the only logical thing — propose to his hetero housemate, Alan (Jon Cryer). This way they can “gay” adopt a child together.
Two and a Half Men is hardly a critical darling — or on the Mensa required watch list — so perhaps this gimmicky plot isn’t too unexpected.
But then Tassler kept talking. When asked if the network was worried about possible backlash from the LGBT community, she replied,
“I think it’s a very positive statement that, you know what, I am going to adopt a child as a gay couple and the reality is, he can do that. And in a universe where at one point you couldn’t do that and now you can do that, I think that’s a much more positive statement that he’s making.”
Not only is the storyline a rip-off of the poorly-conceived and -received I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry, the justification of it is just plain offensive. Tassler and the shows writers and producers seem too ensconced in their Hollywood bubble to understand the reality of “gay adoption” in America. There are still 28 states where same-sex adoption is either unclearly defined or flat-out illegal. And only 16 countries in the entire world allow joint same-sex adoption — fewer than those allowing same-sex marriage.
While the number and acceptance of LGBT parents in the US continues to grow, there is still widespread prejudice towards queer parents in the US and around the world. Whether it’s questions regarding our ability to raise a child without both genders, or our agenda to influence and recruit a new generation of gays, or the ignorance that equates pedophilia with homosexuality, there is still work to be done.
Even if LGBT adoption were completely legal in all 50 states, the premise of Two and a Half Men‘s last grab for ratings is, at best, juvenile. At worst, akin to blackface. To use another Hollywood production for comparison — while some college students of color do benefit from affirmative action, it doesn’t mean it’s funny (or in good taste) to see a white guy pretend to be black in order to get into Harvard.
If Two and a Half Men show runners want to continue with this ridiculous shtick, I’m not going to waste more time and energy protesting (other than continuing to not watch) — so knock yourself out. Perhaps being exploited by a top-ranking TV show is a sign acceptance of “gay adoption” is on the rise. But don’t kid yourself that this is in any way celebrating LGBT adoption or making any kind of positive statement. Other than that it’s positively insulting.
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