Barry Manilow has come out. I know. It’s hilarious, isn’t it? Like most gay men, I just assumed he’d always been out. He played a bathhouse with Bette Midler in the 1970s, for god’s sake. But I guess it’s not official until you tell People.
You’ve got to feel sorry for the gay country singer on Nashville (Wed., 10pm, ABC). Not only does the poor guy have a few personal problems, he’s stuck in the oldest gay plot twist around: tortured gay man struggles with coming out. A rising star with a reputation as a lady’s man, he thinks it might damage his career. In real life, he’d probably just screw around and try to stay clear of cell-phones, but because this is network TV, it’s got to be about Love and so he’s caught in the middle of a not particularly interesting love triangle between a man and a woman. Both of them young and hot, of course. At the end of the pre-Christmas episode, he briefly considered suicide. Lost in this depiction is any sense of the psychological complexity of his situation and the context in which it occurs. Gay life doesn’t start and stop with coming out. People go on to face all kinds of other problems, from sexual rejection to personal rejuvenation. In retrospect it can seem like both the most important decision you ever made and also just one small step in the game of life. But poor Will Lexington (Chris Carmack) is stuck in a one-note story that has all the nuance of a 1950s melodrama (think Allen Drury’s Advise and Consent). Asserting your identity is an important step in anyone’s life, but isn’t it about time network TV started addressing some of the other issues affecting gay life: stuff like sex and friendship and money and maybe even the inevitable tug of old age?