Jeff Baker: Five TV Shows that could have gone M/M

UNITED STATES – JULY 09: THE ODD COUPLE – “Generic” 1970-1975 Tony Randall, Jack Klugman (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images)

An earlier article on this site speculated about movies that could have gone M/M. So here’s my speculation about five TV series which could have gone M/M (or come close!) I’ve stuck with shows I saw first-run as well as shows that aren’t in production anymore.

The Odd Couple (1970)

Tony Randall and Jack Klugman used to play up the notion that Felix and Oscar were Gay during rehearsals to freak out the network censors and so they would be able to get away with other stuff in the scripts. Tony Randall claimed there was an episode they were going to do where Oscar is writing a story on a closeted athlete and Felix reads some of it and misunderstands (imagine that! A misunderstanding on a sitcom!) and thinks Oscar is Gay. (“Oscar Gay? He can’t be gay! I’m the one they should think is gay!” was supposedly one of Felix’s lines in a script Tony Randall called one of the funniest he had ever read.)

Felix and Oscar as a Gay couple? No, they really would have driven each other crazy…

The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1970)

No real speculation here except that the pilot script broadly hinted that Murray might be Gay. Watch the first episode; see how Gavin MacLeod plays Murray with maybe a hint or two that he’s not all that straight. In later scripts, that would be replaced with his unrequited crush on Mary Richards, and who can blame him?

Murray and Ted? Yuuuuuuuk!

Batman (1966)

Holy Heterosexuality! I’ve mentioned before that Burt Ward in that skimpy Robin outfit made me sit up and take notice when I was about six years old! I wouldn’t be the first to speculate about the possibilities of a not-that-platonic relationship between Batman and Robin (remember, Ward was 25 when he did the show!) But the 60s Batman was too square to act on any such desire if he had desires for anything but crime fighting. Others have noted how the various incarnations of B&R feature a lot of bondage with our heroes squirming and sweating. And they have gone into how single-mindedly Batman obsesses with his mission above all else.

Happy Days (1974)

Yeah, yeah, guy in a leather jacket who’s reeeeealllly close to his best friend! Ayyyyyyy! Seriously, while Richie and Fonzie had a serious bromance going there was no hint of anything other than heterosexuality on this nostalgia piece about life in an idealized 1950s America. While homosexuality was one issue the series never addressed, the show had one big Gay template LGBT viewers can identify with; Fonzie, the Cunninghams and their friends were what we would today call “Chosen Family.” And they had a serious emotional bond. Yeah, love was all around on that show too. Anyway, I can’t be the only guy who noticed how cute Anson Williams was.

Dawson’s Creek (1998)

Yeah, this teen drama actually did have a Gay character (Jack McPhee, played by Kerr Smith) but the show toyed with the fans hinting at something more than friendship between Dawson and best buddy Pacey. Maybe they just needed a push?

And one that almost did:

That 70s Show (1998)

The first-season episode “Eric’s Buddy” introduced us to Buddy Morgan, a not spoiled rich kid who hits on (and kisses) Eric Foreman. Series creators said at the time that Buddy was intended to be a possible “love interest” for Eric, but conservative reaction torpedoed that idea, as did Gay viewer’s reaction to Eric’s panic at being kissed by a guy. (Maybe he panicked at the sudden realization that he wasn’t as straight as he thought?) Buddy Morgan was never seen again, but the actor, one Joseph Gordon-Levitt has done all right for himself. He has said that he was proud of having been involved in the first M/M kiss on a scripted show on network television. 

So, those are my picks! How about yours?

I’d love to know!

Happy viewing!

                                                               —-jeff

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