A Host of Our Favorite Podcast, ‘Gayest Episode Ever,’ Shares His 5 Favorite Episodes
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There were a lot more instances of LGBTQ characters and storylines in old sitcoms than you probably remember. Sure, we’re talking about maybe one episode per long-running series, and most of this queer representation was handled pretty shoddily, but there are a few occasions — a rarity, admittedly — when a decades-old comedy series really got it right. And the reason we know this is only because of two guys’ diligence and savant-level TV smarts: Drew Mackie and Glen Lakin, hosts of our favorite podcast, Gayest Episode Ever.
Each episode of their podcast is dedicated to one of these classic TV episodes — when for one week a series worked an LGBTQ character or issue into their half-hour of television. Nearly every classic TV sitcom you can think of had one of these episodes (Cheers, Golden Girls, I Love Lucy, All in the Family), and, maybe not as surprising, more recent series, too (The Simpsons, Family Guy, Family Matters, Seinfeld). All are under the microscope of Drew and Glen, who call out creators for problematic portrayals and laud them when they nail it.
Gayest Episode Ever just wrapped up its 2021 season last week, and currently has more than 100 episodes under its belt.
That’s a lot of episodes about episodes!
So for the newbies out there who haven’t yet dipped their toes into this pool of sitcom knowledge and witty banter, we wanted to offer a great place to start. Below, Drew recalls his five favorite episodes thus far of Gayest Episode Ever, a list perfect for someone looking to dive head-first into the world of LGBTQ representation on the small screen.
Here are Drew’s 5 favorite episodes of Gayest Episode Ever:
You’d be forgiven for thinking that the gay episodes of most ’80s sitcoms don’t hold up so well today. A lot don’t, but one that really does is Cheers. In its first season, one of Sam Malone’s old baseball teammates comes out, and the bar regulars worry that this will make Cheers itself go gay. The voice of reason amidst all the gay panic is Shelley Long’s Diane Chambers, who might as well be telling every other sitcom character ever to calm the fuck down when it comes to worry that someone might think they’re gay.
There’s a myth that Black sitcoms didn’t do gay episodes back in the day. They did. Fresh Prince of Bel-Air did, and Living Single actually did it twice. But one of the most interesting shows centered on a Black family that was also willing to acknowledge that LGBT characters exist in its universe is Moesha. In the episode “Labels,” it adeptly explores gossip, dating and what it might be like to be gay in high school — all without ever explicitly saying whether the teen at the center of the episode is actually gay. It’s restrained and surprising, especially if you wrote off Moesha as a teenybopper show.
Technically, no TGIF sitcom ever did and out-and-out gay episode, but the closest we ever got was Dinosaurs — yes, the Jim Henson-produced one where people wore rubber dinosaur suits. In one episode, son Robbie experiments with not eating men, and it quickly becomes clear that the writers are using this as a metaphor for being queer, though most kids watching at the time didn’t catch on. Did the grown-ups? We wonder.
OK, so we normally do sitcoms, but being giant nerds, one of our favorite pastimes is looking back on cartoons we watched back in the day and talking about what seems gay — and what of that seems intentional versus wishful thinking on our part. In this episode, we talk about every ’80s carton we can think of that speaks to a gay experience, not limited to but including He-Man, Jem, Rainbow Brite, Strawberry Shortcake, My Little Pony and every little gay boy’s fantasy show, Beverly Hills Teens. We liked doing this so much that we’re launching a Patreon spin-off series looking at these cartoons in greater depth.
Hey, remember that Golden Girls episode where they have to hide a dead body? No? Well, good, because it never actually aired, but that didn’t stop the screenwriting half of the guys who host this show from writing his own Golden Girls script and then having some actual Hollywood types come in and do a table read. And it wouldn’t work if they all didn’t do a terrific job as Dorothy, Rose, Blanche and Sofia, but they did, and so we’re humbly suggesting now that you give it a listen if you don’t mind the girls going darker than you’ve ever seen them go.