If you played a gay drinking game during Monday night’s episode Secret Life of the American Teenager (I did not, as I am a portrait of sobriety), you probably were plastered about ten minutes in because the word “gay” was spoken in approximately every sentence. That repetitive language would’ve been surprising enough, but even more surprising was the variety of Gay Situations this show covered in Episode 424, “Love Is Love,” and covered well. (Though it’s worth mentioning that the show already had a minor gay male character and a lesbian Mom, the latter portrayed by Professional On-Screen Lesbian Anne Ramsay.) I mean they just kinda hit shot after shot, but the humor of the gay parts seemed a little more layered than the rest of the show (which was TERRIBLE), and I’m not sure how that kind of thing would come across for most of Secret Life‘s audience. Basically characters took turns saying dumb things and consequently being called out for saying those dumb things, or just made to look stupid for it, and my girlfriend and I were relatively slack-jawed throughout.
However, according to tumblr, most fans hated the episode and found it offensive, as if they really took the Fourth of July gag and pretty much every joke in the episode at face value. Was it an episode that was only funny to gay people, have we lost our minds, or are we simply able to enjoy it on its own ’cause we’ve not been trekking through the show season after maddening season as it’s degenerated into whatever it is now?
Normally this is the part where I’d tell you what I think about it, or recap it, but I’m super new to the show and really — this time I just wanna know what you think before I attempt to impart my thought propaganda upon you in the form of “my opinion.”
Here is the episode, watch it!
But I will say this: Although it’s something I don’t know how to talk about, or rarely talk about, because it’s complicated and embarrassing, really — the conversation Anne and Amy have after Anne comes out reminded me of the conversation I’d had with my Mom when she came out. It was strange to suddenly see a story similar to that part of mine on television, it wasn’t something I’d ever thought I’d see.
Also important to mention: my activity partner and I laughed a lot! I understand how someone might read Grace’s fashion situation at the end as offensive, but I found it hilarious, like a scene written by somebody on our side who had been there, yannow? Like it wouldn’t have been out of place in an L Word episode. In fact, most of Grace’s weirdness was hilarious.
Some highlights —
Exhibit A: Grace calls out her Mom for saying “gay” is somebody’s fault (followed by a conversation that made us both ROFL):
Kathleen: Hi, how’s it going? I thought you might like the last piece of cake and some milk.
Grace: Because I’m gay? Jacob’s home from school, isn’t he? He told you.
Kathleen: Well, I pressured him, so it’s not his fault. Just like if you’re gay, it’s not your fault.
Grace: Of course it’s not my fault. It’s nobody’s fault. There’s no “fault” involved. And saying that just implies that there’s something wrong with my being gay.
Exhibit B: Adrian’s Mom calls out her daughter for treating same-sex experimenting like a game to get attention when other people have real problems:
Adrian: People talking about me being gay is almost like people talking about Ricky being gay. It’s… it’s shocking.
Cindy: People are talking about Ricky being gay?
Adrian: Oh please, no. Just me. I’m the center of attention for once.
Cindy: Oh, well, I recall you being the center of attention a few times. Are you sure you want to be the center of attention for this? I mean, Adrian, it doesn’t really seem like you’re questioning anything and so it seems to me that… that people may take offense to you trying to shock other people by kissing a girl.
Adrian: I didn’t do it to shock people, I just… I don’t mind that it did shock people. And who would take offense?
Cindy: Lesbians in your high school? Possibly gay guys as well. The entire LGBTQ community?
Adrian: What community is that? The alphabet community?
Cindy: Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans, questioning community.
Adrian: Oh, them. They’re not going to say anything. They don’t have a voice.
Cindy: [look of disgust and disbelief]
Adrian: That was a joke. About gay students not being heard.
Cindy: That might be too true to be funny.
Adrian: Oh come on, everyone at our school gets treated the same, no one really cares who’s gay or not gay… unless, of course, it’s someone like me.
Cindy: Oh, really? Well, then maybe they should change the name of your school to “The Ideal High School”… Adrian, are you really that naive? You may not care who’s gay or not gay, you may not care what anyone else’s sex life or sexual identity is, but believe me, other people do and other people can be judgmental and hurtful. And again, I don’t know why someone hasn’t said something about that little game you’re playing.
After Adrian scans her memory to retrieve the name of Fern, the one lesbian at school she knows of…
Cindy: What are you gonna do when Fern or someone else comes up to you and confronts you about using that kiss to get attention, while they’re deeply struggling with who they are? That is more likely scary at your age than amusing.
Exhibit C: Amy reacts to her mother, Anne, coming out with denial and anger and gets called out by her boyfriend:
Anne: I am gay.
Amy: Mom that’s ridiculous. You were married forever and you’ve had boyfriend after boyfriend.
Anne: Uh-huh. None of which have worked out because I was never happy being married to your dad or with boyfriends. I mean, I wasn’t miserable when I was married to your dad, just never felt complete.
Amy: Well… that’s not because you’re gay. That’s because Dad’s an idiot. Mom, I don’t want you to be gay. It’s not that I have anything against people who are gay, but our family is different enough. Geez, do you really have to do this?
[Amy's boyfriend interrupts --]
Amy: I’m talking to my mother.
Ricky: I heard. And excuse me for saying so, but that’s not really a nice way to talk to your mother.
Amy: Stay out of it.
Ricky: No, I’m not going to stay out of it. My mom is gay. And you’re completely insensitive. If you didn’t wanna know this, why did you insist on coming over here to see your mom? [to Anne] I’m sorry this is Amy’s response. I support you all the way. You be whoever you are, and we’ll be happy about it. Won’t we, Amy?
Honestly, I racked my brain and couldn’t think of any other televised instance of a woman coming out to her children, post-marriage/divorce/boyfriends. It happened in my family, though, and so I could definitely relate to this episode, even the ugly parts.
Exhibit D: Adrian’s boyfriend breaks up with her for cheating and she flips out because kissing a girl “doesn’t count,” and he informs her that yes, actually, it does —
Adrian: What do you mean you’re breaking up with me? You can’t break up with me just because I kissed Grace.
Omar: You promised it would be just the two of us and you didn’t even last a week.
Adrian: Uh, no I didn’t. promised you no other guys. This wasn’t a guy. This was Grace. She asked me to kiss her and so I kissed her. What’s the big deal?
Omar: You kissed someone else, that’s the big deal, I don’t care who it was, man or woman. You cheated.
Adrian: You have to be kidding me.
Adrian: She’s a girl. I’m a girl. I didn’t get anything out of it.
Omar: Well, then you shouldn’t have done it… look Adrian, I don’t wanna be in a position where I’m telling you what’s appropriate and what’s inappropriate in a relationship. And if you’re telling me that a kiss with a girl doesn’t count, I’d like to know why. Is a girl less than a guy? Is a kiss with the same sex less than a kiss with the opposite sex? No, it’s not.
There are lots of other good parts too, and funny parts, so watch it and get back to me. Also, I wrote about last week’s episode yesterday, and that episode is also on Hulu.