Thursday, October 22, 2009

A Gay Character on Law & Order: SVU. Good or Bad?

I haven't watched this episode yet (it aired last night against Glee), but psychiatrist George Huang, played by BD Wong, revealed in last night's Law & Order: SVU that he is, in fact, gay.

According to afterelton.com, fans have long suspected Huang is a gay man. Wow I must be dense! I have never even thought about his sexuality. SVU almost never deals with romantic relationships--and thank goodness, because they would just detract from the show. We have heard passing comments from Munch about the toils of marriage. And we know Stabler is married and we know Benson is straight and never been married. That's pretty much it.

I have mixed feelings about Huang coming out. On the one hand, it deepens him as a character, so that he is not just that Asian guy who shows up every so often to profile criminals. Also, having a gay main character on one of TV's biggest shows is a strong indicator that the powers that be at SVU are no longer delusional that all of America is straight (I'm looking at you, CBS!).

On the other hand, I'm wondering if making Huang gay will marginalize him even more. He's already a fringe main character--that is, he's not in every episode, and he doesn't have a lot of lines in most of the episodes he does appear in. He shows up, provides his expertise, occasionally interviews a victim/perp, and then it's see ya later, Huang.

So what's up with this trend of making men of color portray gay characters on TV shows? It's not just SVU--there's Entourage's Lloyd, played by Rex Lee. And there's The Office's Oscar, played by Oscar Nunez. Am I the only one who's noticed this?

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