Monday, March 12, 2012

'GCB' and Mark Deklin, I Salute You...

A tip of the (cowboy) hat to GCB.

I never thought I'd say this but I think GCB has cracked the door open for my newest pilot. The show, as a whole, seemed like just another campy, comedic primetime soap opera to me. The Texas sized hair and insanely bright colored suits on the women didn't help genre-based assumptions, stereotypes, as they may be. But in actually sitting down and watching the pilot episode, it did something I hoped to see network television take a crack at but had yet to actually: it introduced that a primary character was gay without making it the defining characteristic about him.

Blake Reilly (Mark Deklin) is married, with kids, and a successful pillar of his strong, Christian community. But in the pilot episode, we see in such a small way (hand-holding under the table) that he is actually into guys. That is all that needs to be said about that in the pilot. There is not some big "come to Jesus" speech, nor do we get a bunch of exposition about the hows and the whys of his relationship with his wife. We get to meet the man before we learn the secret that could so easily color the way his peers-- and his audience-- looks at him.

In episode two, though, we got an even stronger taste of this relationship because we learned that, in fact, Cricket (Miriam Shor) does know about his sexuality. She has known for a long, long time, and she is not only okay with it, but she has entered into this relationship as more of a "deal" than anything else. Surely she is getting something out of it, satisfied in some ways, while greatly giving up other things-- just like he is. They are both sacrificing, yet they are staying together, perpetuating this image. It's truly fascinating.

I don't want to say too much about my own project (though it is WGA registered and copywritten, so don't even think about stealing the idea). It's too early in the process to give away specific details. But looking at "unconventional" relationships has always been something I have wanted to do in my story-telling. I joked once that the most interesting couple stories are the ones where they get together in the beginning, and we're just waiting for them to break up-- watching the unraveling, the bad behavior, the trainwreck, in some cases. It doesn't mean there isn't love there, but it's not the "meant to be" type of true love we were force-fed as children. You can't put a label on love, and characters like Blake and Cricket (or like my own) can have that very real emotion to a certain degree, and who is an audience to say it makes it any less real? Personally, I think we may learn that Blake and Cricket's relationship is the most stable out of all of them on GCB. Whether that's a commentary on the state of marriages today or just a new level of trust and vulnerability two people can be brought to by sharing such a secret, I don't know. But I can't wait to find out.

I know GCB's ratings have been pretty dismal. But the mere fact that they were able to slip such an important character like Blake into their otherwise spectacle of a show gives me hope that audiences can be ready for such different stories down the pike. And mine is definitely one that shines a spotlight on a relationship perhaps even more unconventional than Blake and Cricket's. If they can pave the way, hopefully networks can get outside their "will they or won't they?" box, and you will see much more complex relationships on your televisions come 2013 or 2014!

For my full feature interview with Mark Deklin about GCB, please click here.

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