One night I channel-surfed onto Hustle (2004-2012), a British comedy-drama about a group of amiable con artists. Young-gun Danny Blue (Marc Warren) meets Troy (Lee Ingleby) in a bar. They talk for hours. Then Danny says goodbye, starts to walk away, realizes that he doesn’t want to part, and rushes back to Troy again, surely a “falling in love” moment. In the next scene, apparently the morning after their sexual intimacy, Danny is introducing Troy to his colleagues and petitioning to include him in their latest con.
Throughout, the two display a remarkably expressive physicality, with full-body hugs, arms around shoulders, hands pressed against chests. “Obviously a gay couple,” I thought. At the end of the episode we discover that Danny has just being feigning interest in order to orchestrate a revenge-con against the unscrupulous Troy. But still, the interest Danny feigned was overtly homoerotic, to the point of probably sleeping with him.
I tuned in the next week, and the next. Danny’s job in the con always involves bonding with attractive men, and never flirting with women, not even a receptionist or secretary. When he must pretend to have sex with a female colleague (so the mark can hear them through the wall and conclude that they are a couple), he can barely restrain his giggles. Off duty, he is seen only with guys. He gazes with palpable desire at gang leader Mickey Bricks (Adrian Lester). Obviously scripted as gay, I thought. I even checked online to see if Marc Warren had played gay before (he had, twice).
Then, in the fourth episode, Danny is juggling girlfriends from all over the world, using different cell phones to keep track of the lies he used to woo them. Hustle took just four weeks to heterosexualize its gay character.