Saturday, April 25, 2009

Rafe: And so it begins...

ETA: The incredible Anthony D. Langford has started a "Rafe's Story" series on Youtube. I have embedded the first video just beneath the photo.

If you watched the Friday 4/24/09 episode of Y&R, you heard this dialogue:

Lily: Hey, you're gonna find someone. You have to just get back out there. I thought you were gonna go on that, um, that dating site.

Colleen: (Scoffs) yeah, I have.

Lily: And? What do you think so far?

Colleen: Eh.

Lily: (Whispering) hey, do you remember the lawyer that helped ana?

Colleen: (Whispering) yes, I remember. He's cute.

Lily: (Normal voice) hey, rafe.


Lily: Yeah. Thank you. Um, so, what's a, uh, a good-looking guy like you doing all alone on a friday night?

Rafe: Um, I'm heading to a, uh, friend's birthday party.

Lily: Uh, are you going with anyone?

Colleen: (Clears throat)

Rafe: Actually, no.


Colleen: Bye.

Lily: Bye.

Rafe: Good seeing you.

Colleen: (Chuckles) she's subtle, isn't she?

Rafe: Obviously, she doesn't know I'm gay.

Colleen: Well, matchmaker Lily strikes again.

Rafe: Hey, it's the thought that counts, right?

Colleen: Right. But, you know, we should still check out that bar. We could look for guys together. (Laughs)

Rafe: (Laughs) definitely. It's a date.

and later:

J.T.: That rafe seems like a pretty cool dude.

Colleen: Yeah, he is.

J.T.: It's good to see you dating again.

Colleen: (Chuckles) we are just friends.

J.T.: Oh, give it some time. I'm sure he won't be able to resist you.

Colleen: Oh, I'm sure he will. You, on the other hand...

J.T.: What about me?

Colleen: Much more his type.

J.T.: Uh... oh. Oh. (Chuckles) hey, you taking off?

Rafe: Mm. I got court tomorrow.

J.T.: All right.

Rafe: It was good seeing you, J.T.

J.T.: Yeah, you, too, man.

Rafe: Good night.

Colleen: Bye.

Rafe: Bye.

Colleen: This was fun.

Rafe: We'll come back soon, go trolling together.

Colleen: (Clicks tongue) it's a date.

Rafe: All right. See you guys.

Colleen: (Laughs)

And with that, Y&R launched it's first gay storyline since Katherine Chancellor took a liking to Joanne, back in 1977.

The introduction of the story was...subtle. Rafe's gayness was introduced without is an aspect of him, like hair color or eye color. Moreover, although there was a moment of discomfort with Colleen and JT (both of them were a little surprised...the default expectation still reasonably remains "straightness"), it quickly passed. There was no judgement.

Some critics have complained that making a recurring, non-central character is a "cheat", and demonstrates a lack of commitment to the show. But which of their hitherto-straight characters should they turn gay?

The proof will be in the pudding, as we see which characters Rafe hooks up with, and how truly committed the story seems to be to telling his story.

I'm not worried about Rafe's current status. The Williams family was originally introduced in the same way (on the back of recurring island character Paul Williams). So too was the Winters family (Olivia and later Dru were introduced around recurring Aunt Mamie, the Abbott maid...and went on to become a key family for Y&R for many years). So, since Rafe is already tied to the Newman concierge, Estella, I'm hopeful this could lead to the introduction of a whole hispanic/latino family. If the story flows, the character will grow.

It is delicious to speculate where Rafe might find love. My picture at the top of this post sort of signals my part because I'd just love to see the boys in bed together. I'm being truthful. It seems like it'd be a delicious sight...for male and female fans :).

The trick will be tying Rafe to a family we care about.

If it is Adam, many of us like him, and he is tied to the Newmans. Maybe finally being honest about his (bi)sexuality will free Adam, and bring him to the light. So it works.

If it is Billy (my wild speculation, since he and Rafe were school friends), it means Rafe is on a wild ride with the town man- whore...again, that will make many of us care.

If it is Phillip IV, that works too...because while we don't know adult Phillip, we saw him conceived, born, and fought over. He's a real lynchpin character, and returning into the maelstrom of the Abbott-Chancellors these days will be interesting. He's already been defined as interesting, because he's a returning soldier. We know he didn't go to Iraq for money (Nina's loaded), which means he did it for "call of duty"...and that makes him instantly interesting to me. If he's a gay "don't ask-don't tell soldier"...and a "hero"...what a truly interesting and innovative character. If, then, as P-IV is introduced to us, he also finds love .. with Rafe...well, I'm popping the corn for that as we speak!

I doubt it is JT. That would be a hard pretzel to twist. On the other hand, we saw Thad play gay (or, maybe, opportunistically bisexual) on Nip/Tuck, and the boy has glutes-of-steel. So, if that is the ride we're going on, bring it on.

The only one I refuse to believe it will be is Kevin (Michael's too old for this arc...they're not going there...he's happy with Lauren). I am totally in agreement that Kevin COULD go that's clear he has spent his life confused, and a lot of his emotions for women were animus, not love. His best female relationships (Mac, Amber) were pure platonic friendship with no real sexual overtones (though I intuit that will change). And Jana...well....there isn't a lot of sexual chemistry there. The actors (Emily O'Brien and Greg Rikaart) even admitted that...they're not the couple that are shown in bed together. And with Jana's headaches, it seems either the couple has more of a "soul connection" (her headaches are his pain), or it's a doomed romance. Either way, it could be Kevin.

But here is why I don't want it to be Kevin. 'Cause Kevin is SCREWED UP. What a message to perpetuate..."the screwed up guy is the fag". That just feeds into too much stuff. On the other hand, I suppose if the arc is "when Kevin admits his sexuality, he is finally free", I will buy it. But I'd really hope not.

Right now, my hopes are (1) Adam, (2) the to-be-seen Phillip IV.

The question is whether we'll get gay bed scenes on Y&R -- something ATWT has so far avoided. (Brothers and Sisters, finally last week, showed a bona fide shirtless kissing/foreplay scene, and I admit even I was scandalized...simply because we'd NEVER seen something like that on primetime before). I doubt Y&R will go there...but they were so beautifully nonchalant about Rafe's was like eye color...I'm hopeful everything about this arc will be natural, realistic, not so unhealthy.

My one worry is the Bell family experience with "disgust" and massive viewer tune-out in the late 1970s. Let's see how they deal with that this time. I think it means there will be a cautious, subtle introduction to this story...and activist gay viewers need to be patient and just go along for the ride. There is much to be rewarded by trust.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have hopes for Rafe. It's refreshing to have a gay character on a soap and not have to suffer through the obligatory coming out story. I hope if he gets a partner it is someone "new" so that coming out story doesn't happen.