'Please Like Me' Happens to Have a Gay Main Character (Not That There's Anything Wrong With That)
Please Like Me's main character, Josh (based on and played by comedian Josh Thomas), is one of the most honest, multidimensional representations of a 20-something millennial on tv right now on a network you’ve probably never heard (Pivot). He’s self-deprecating (he describes his face as that of a 50-year-old baby), secretly caring (just don’t tell him that), awkwardly charming, hilariously neurotic, and sharp-as-a-tack witty. Oh, and he happens to be gay.
The pilot opens with Josh and his then-girlfriend breaking up with him because “We’ve drifted. Also, you’re gay.” That little “also” sets the tone for how the show approaches Josh’s sexuality for the rest of the series. While LGBT characters continue to increase their presence in television, the variety of stories for these characters often seem to blend into one. Melodramatic coming out stories, bullying, and acceptance are defining themes for gay characters in shows like Glee, Shameless, Faking It, and Master of Sex. Don’t get me wrong. These are stories that need to be told. For many, this sort of world is their truth. However, for millennials growing up in a rapidly changing social & political climate, being gay often just isn’t as big a deal. It’s another fact of life.
After overhearing Josh having an unexpected night involving his first boy kiss, his schlumpy best friend Tom (brilliantly played by his real life friend, Tom Ward) tries to nudge Josh to talk about it (shown below).
There’s nothing dramatic in Tom’s new discovery about his best friend. His casual, matter-of-fact-ness mixed with Josh’s can’t-be-bothered attitude creates one of the most refreshing (and funny!) coming out to a friend scenes on television. Instead of making the conversation about Josh’s freshly awakened sexuality, the conversation veers towards Josh’s fears of someone so impossibly good-looking being attracted to him. It’s not a “gay” conversation per say, but a universal, lighthearted discussion of feeling invalid next to someone with muscles (which Josh likes very much).
To Josh, coming out to his friends and parents isn’t so much an absolute horror as an annoying inconvenience. When Josh’s gorgeous new boyfriend Geoffrey (see below)
meets his dad, the dad tells Geoffrey that they always thought Josh was gay, to which Geoffrey announces him as his boyfriend. Josh responds with a perfectly-timed “surpriseeeeee!” His dad irreverently shrugs it off as his fault for not playing enough sports with Josh.
No, there’s nothing radical anymore about a gay character on television. What is radical about Please Like Me is them treating their gay protagonist as something that isn’t radical at all.
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