Breaking boundaries! Despite facing backlash from some viewers, Dawson’s Creek, The Fosters and more series are proud to have made major strides when it comes to LGBTQ romances on TV.
In 2000, Dawson’s Creek fans watched as Jack (Kerr Smith) and Ethan (Andy Kaufman) locked lips during the season 3 finale, marking a big milestone in pop culture history. More than 10 years later, the actors reflected on what that moment meant for them — and for viewers.
“I didn’t want it to be just an innocent little peck,” Smith told HuffPost in 2015. “That’s not what Jack was trying to tell Ethan. … The whole point is that he was really going for it. That’s what that kiss needed to be.”
The scene proved to be more influential than anyone could have expected at the time. “Every show has a gay character now. It’s no big deal, and that’s the way that it should be,” Smith teased. “We’re proud of what we did. We paved the way for the way things are today.”
While the inclusion of queer story lines is more commonplace on modern TV shows, there are still plenty of “firsts” occurring on screen. The Fosters is responsible for the youngest same-sex kiss between two characters, and though some viewers of the family series weren’t happy with the scene, the show’s creators stood by the decision.
“If people want to judge it, I think maybe they should watch and see how carefully, delicately and chastely it was handled. We are not here to sensationalize or exploit anyone,” cocreator Peter Paige told TheWrap in 2015 after two 13-year-olds showed PDA during the second season. “This story is very true. Both Brad [Bredeweg, cocreator] and I are gay men and it felt very true to both of our early coming out experiences.”
Paige continued, “More than anything else, we felt [a] responsibility to those kids and to our younger selves who didn’t see themselves reflected anywhere.”
The Fosters kept its PDA rated PG, but How to Get Away With Murder pushed the limits with raunchy love scenes and makeouts — both straight and gay. Jack Falahee, who played Connor on the ABC drama, was “glad” that the show started a conversation.
“I think that that’s the aim of entertainment. And if we can have a dialogue about it, it can become more accepted,” he told E! News of the series’ same-sex romances in November 2014. “TV is sort of catching up and it’s been very black and white what we’ve seen on the screen and very paranormative and patriarchal and I think that now that we’re exploring it, it’s something that’s being talked about which is great.”
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