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Wednesday
Feb 10 2016

HBO's LGBT History: Television Period Dramas

Manuelis working his way through all the LGBT-themed HBO productions.

Last weekwe looked at the oh-so-boring if earnest docThe Case Against 8.This week we're taking stock of three of HBO's period dramas to see how the network has tackled LGBT characters in robes,frocks,and spurs.

When putting on shows (or films) set in the past,you always have to walk a fine line between keeping it "period"— you want to stay authentic — while also making a case for its existence today — you want it to resonate today.Mad Menis to me,the standard in this regard,ably walking that fine line;never shying away from the rampant sexism of the time,for example,but also never arching its eyebrow to audiences and smirking to itself saying "Can you believe this?"This is particularly tricky when it comes to LGBT issues and even more so when the shows are notaboutissues of sexuality.Do you push contemporary understandings of gays,lesbians and trans people and risk being called out for anachronisms,or do you simply feed into a narrative of heterosexism that states that gay desire was somehow always hidden and tragic and risk instead being called out for regressive ideas?

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