Thursday, October 02, 2003

 
I am going through an unaccustomed orgy of TV viewing, something that happens every season as the new shows premiere. I see if there's anything worth watching, catch any legendary disasters before they disappear forever, and decide on one or two shows that I might want to follow.

Last night "It's All Relative" premiered, a sitcom about two kids who want to marry but come from different backgrounds that may get in their way and that certainly should provide some decent comic opportunities if the writers are alive and alert. The show is set in Boston and features an Irish working class family with a son who wants to marry an upper middle class girl with two adoptive gay fathers. The possibilities for cultural and generational complications are everywhere. The sharp-eyed--with long memories or some history of the theater behind them-- will have already have seen this show as another take on "Abie's Irish Rose," an old Broadway standard from the era of the great Irish and Jewish immigration to the U.S. "Bridget Loves Bernie" from a couple of decades or so ago was another TV manifestation. At the moment the four parents are the most interesting part of the mix. The kids are bland and apologetic and that will need to change.

William Benjamin Hickey, playing one of the two gay dads, is hardly a household name but as a member of the original cast of Terrence McNally's "Love, Valor, Compassion" who went on to be cast in the movie, he's the best known actor
here. The rest are fresh, energetic, and already secure in their basic characters. Whether the writing will deepen to explore the emotional underpinnings of the cliche lines that were tossed around last night remains to be seen. I believe this cast is up to the job because they tossed those lines out as if they were freshly minted, unlike the dire crew on the very poor "Coupling." Episode one ended with the Irish couple talking the situation over in bed with the lights off. If the producers, writers and director have the guts to put the gay guys in the same situation this show will have a chance, because they will probably also have the smarts to do a lot of other things right as well.

I can hear people saying, "What? ANOTHER gay-themed sitcom?" Yeah--we're trendy now--and the unspeakable Rush Limbaugh has been thrown off TV as well. Who would have thought? I'm having a very nice time.

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