GLAAD just published its annual Network Responsibility Index, which monitors “the quantity, quality and diversity of images of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people on television.” The test covers broadcast and cable networks, with each receiving a grade of Excellent, Good, Adequate or Failing. HBO was among the leaders, as usual, and A&E came in on the bottom, with a measly two out of 165.5 hours of original programming featuring LGBT-inclusive content.
Showtime received a rating of “Good,” with 26% of their original programming including LGBT characters, most of which I assume came courtesy of The L Word. Only one episode, the pilot, of Nurse Jackie was included in the test, which is a shame—I was curious to see what they made of the show’s two gay characters, who are about as complex as what you might expect to find on an episode Two and a Half Men.
The first is the bitchy male nurse, Mohammed “Mo-Mo” De La Cruz, who I guess wins bonus points for being the first recurring gay Middle-Eastern character on television—which would be fine if every line he delivers wasn’t something along the lines of “Oooh, girl, I just love a nice big dick! Because I am gay!!!”
Jackie: Where’s the social worker?
Mohammed: She’s still mad at us for the Christmas party.
Jackie: Us?! You’re the one who tongued her husband after yuletide karaoke, not me!
Mohammed: You dared me.
Mohammed: You know, there would be some definite advantages to dating a man without a torsoe… [you could] throw his stupid head overboard when you catch him fucking the pool boy on a cruise to celebrate your six month anniversary, which you had to pay for because he is such a narcissistic fuck.
Mohammed: Didn’t the doctor tell you not to smoke when you’re on oxygen?
Patient: I stopped doing what I was told when my husband hit me for not vaccuming.
Mohammed: Mmm, me too!
So what have we learned? Gay people prey on unsuspecting straight people at holiday parties; they take their sexual cues from tired tropes of the porn industry; and they’re able to use their gayness as a way to break the tension surrounding domestic abuse, because two men being in a relationship is funny, even when one’s beating up the other.
And then there’s another nurse named Thor, who, in the second episode of the series, uses his beard and overall imposing demeanor to intimidate an unruly hospital visitor. The punchline, of course, is that he’s actually gay (which we know first because of the totally gay way he says “You’re welcome” and “farewell,” then because he asks if Mo-Mo is single) and therefore incapable of actual intimidation. Hooray for irony!
If this is enough to secure a score of “Good” for a network, the people of GLAAD should probably step up their game a little bit, which is to say nothing, of course, of Nurse Jackie’s writers, whose missteps in this arena are helping to cast a show that’s bordering on excellence in a very bad light.