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Ovation: I Hope Billy Crystal & Michael Urie Can Still Be Friends.


I’ve always loved to watch television.  As a child, this meant choosing from three network channels, PBS and a couple of spotty local UHF stations.  I loved to watch old sitcom re-runs after school and my folks would let me watch a few things in the evenings.  I loved every game show and I remember The Carol Burnett Show on Saturday evenings was always something that I looked forward to.  I could always find something to watch.  Later, when every house eventually had satellite or cable television, we found ourselves with hundreds of channels from which to choose yet there was never “anything on”.

Recently, we reevaluated our cable television subscription and eliminated all of the “subscription services” because we determined that we rarely, if ever, watched those channels.  In fact, a quick review of all the saved programs on our DVR revealed that everything we had saved was broadcast on either ABC, CBS, NBC or PBS (Downtown Abbey!).  Apparently, I’ve reverted back to watching network television.  Apparently I’ve learned, over the years, that I don’t have to watch EVERYTHING.

Last week, Billy Crystal, whose breakout television role was that of the first regularly openly gay character, Jodie Dallas on ABC’s controversial sitcom SOAP (1977-1981), made statements suggesting that he thinks there is currently too much gay sex on television.  “Sometimes, it’s just pushing it a little too far for my taste” he’s quoted as saying.

Yesterday, actor Michael Urie, of Ugly Betty and Partners fame, joined the conversation and suggested that Mr. Crystal might want to change the channel.

“I don’t think it’s overexposed.  If gay sex on TV is too much for you, change the channel and don’t watch it, it’s not for you.  I think there is far too much football on TV.  But I’m not going around saying they should take football off the air, I’m changing the channel.” – Michael Urie

Emmy and Tony Award winner Crystal later clarified his comments.

“What I meant was that whenever sex or graphic nudity of any kind, gay or straight, is gratuitous to the plot or story it becomes a little too much for my taste.” – Billy Crystal

I agree with both of them.  Like Crystal, if a sex scene is included for “shock value” or any other reason other than plot or character development I find it distracting and unnecessary.  Also, I completely agree with Urie … turn it off if you don’t want to see it!

I’ve always been annoyed by groups like The Parents Television Council or One Million Moms who try to get television programs, books and movies cancelled or banned because they disagree with the content or message of the work.  Instead of spending time, energy and money boycotting advertisers, picketing corporate headquarters and appearing on right-wing radio programs, their time would certainly be better spent turning off their televisions and reading to their children.

Yes, from a young age I’ve watched a lot of television (arguably, too much television) but my mother let me watch it as a reward … after my homework was done … and she tried really hard to keep me from watching Laugh-In because it was “too dirty”.  (Can you imagine?)  She taught me that watching television was a privilege.  Watching television is not mandatory.  One may turn it off at any time.

Even Billy Crystal and Michael Urie.


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From → Ovations

  1. I enjoyed this. Actually, there is too much sex on TV, regardless of opposite sex or same sex partnering. It is interesting what network TV is allowed to show these days versus the 1970s. I have observed that relationships migrated faster to sex on TV than in real life as they don’t have time to court on TV. Now, I think people learn from watching and migrate faster in real life to sex when dating. So, TV is both a mirror and impetus to cultural change.

    On the good side, by showing more gays in society and interracial couples on TV, both are now more accepted than they were years ago, the latter being less taboo than the former. But, given time gay marriage will be accepted even in evangelical of houses. Good post, BTG

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I like this conversation, and see both sides.
    I do, however, love that there are more gay characters who aren’t the victim or the killer or the butt of all the jokes on TV. I feel like we are seeing more realistic depictions of gay people and i like it; I didn’t see a lot, or any, gays on my set growing up and that feeds into a closet mentality, so more gays is good news as far as I’m concerned.
    That said, if you don’t like, do as Urie suggests, which is what I do when that football stuff comes onscreen!

    Liked by 2 people

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