Click to viewAs Californians prepare to vote on whether to allow teh gayz to get married, we could soon be seeing our first same-sex married couple on television — but the show takes place in the distant future. As this week's TV Guide trumpets, Ron Moore's Virtuality includes the sure-to-be-controversial married couple Manny (Jose Pablo Cantillo) and Val (Gene Farber), who hold hands freely aboard the starship Phaeton. And show creator Ron Moore tells a queer television blogger that he feels bad for not including more gay characters on Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica. According to TV Guide, Cantillo and Farber have been doing extra prep work to portray their same-sex romance on screen, hanging out together when they're not filming in Vancouver. They even went to see some fireworks together. "Somebody slap a rainbow sticker on their Phaeton spaceship!" TV Guide writes. Honestly, when I read the script for Virtuality ages ago, the characters of Manny and Val seemed the least memorable of the bunch. With 12 crewmembers on board the ship, it's not surprising that some of them will get a bit lost. (Although the ship gets less crowded by the end of the TV movie, which serves as the "backdoor pilot.") The article also notes that the ship's captain tells his crew he "loves" them (but not romantically or sexually, I think) and couples sign away their rights to conceive. And there's a virtual love affair, thanks to the virtual reality system aboard the Phaeton.
Meanwhile, Ron Moore told AfterElton blogger Michael Jensen that the astronauts aboard the Phaeton were not just chosen for mission-related reasons, but also for P.R. reasons. And Manny and Val struggle with the question of whether they're just on board the ship for symbolic reasons. Which actually does sound really interesting, given the show's "reality TV" component. Moore points out that with no possibility of guest stars (other than virtual ones), all of the show's 12 main characters will get explored in full. So why has science fiction neglected gay characters (other than the occasional thing, like Admiral Cain's lesbianism, brought to you by Quiznos)? Moore gave Jensen a pretty thoughtful answer, saying "We've just failed at it," because queer characters weren't on anyone's radar in science fiction writing rooms. And he feels guilty about it. He also hints there maybe queer characters in the BSG spinoff Caprica. And then he says that queer characters aren't usually part of the stories that science fiction writers are stealing from for television:
I think some of it has to do with [how] certain science fiction deals with action/adventure sort of roles and action/adventure sort of archetypes and traditionally gay and lesbian characters are not part of those archetypes. So when you are doing a version of Die Hard on the Enterprise like we did in Next Generation, there’s not usually the gay or lesbian characters part of that equation Which doesn’t mean that of course none of these characters can’t be that, but it doesn’t usually like – oh, yeah and then there’s usually the computer guy and there’s this guy and you’re not usually thinking in that template and television writers and film writers think in templates. We think a lot about, oh, let’s do Casablanca. Oh, let’s do this. And oh, let’s do our version of that kind of story. And unfortunately gay and lesbian characters are not generally part of those archetypes from which we draw, so already you’re not in the headset of incorporating them into your world because they’re not part of the things that you’re using as a foundation to draw upon. It’s a problem.
It's worth reading the whole discussion over at AfterElton. [AfterElton]