Feb 9, 2013

Martin Spanjers: 8 Simple Rules for Playing Gay


In case you're wondering who this boy is who showers wearing a towel and seems very happy to be looking at the muscular adult hunk, his name is Martin Spanjers, and he was playing the teenage Rory on the TGIF sitcom Eight Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter (2002-2005), about an overprotective Dad.  It wasn't as heterosexist as it sounds

1. Dad was played by the gay-friendly John Ritter, who originated the "straight pretending to be gay" bit on Three's Company (1977-84).
2. Mom was played by the gay ally Katey Sagal, star of Married with Children and Futurama.
3. The teenage daughter takes a girl to the prom in order to make a stand for gay rights.
4. At the same prom, Rory's date turns out to be a lesbian.




5. Grandpa (James Garner), brought in after the tragic death of John Ritter, thinks the school principal is hitting on Rory.
6. James Garner originated the "attracted to a guy who's really a girl"  in Victor/Victoria (1982).
7. Rory is one of the standard gay-vague sitcom kids, soft, shy, pretty, and struggling valiantly to act girl-crazy.




After Eight Simple Rules, Martin did the usual guest star bit, on 90210, Family Guy, and Good Luck Charlie.  Then he got a starring role on the vampire drama True Blood, with Joe Manganiello. When his parents discover that the teenage Sam Merlotte is a shapeshifter, they abandon him -- he comes home from school to find the house deserted.  A lot of gay kids could relate to parents unable to accept their true identity.  He drifted for a long time, through a series of failed relationships, unable to find a home anywhere, not even among werewolves.  Finally he grew up (into Sam Trammel), and opened a bar in Bon Temps, Louisiana, where he dated women but had erotic dreams about men.

Martin has also made some quirky black comedies, such as Sassy Pants (2012), in which a teen (Ashley Ricards) runs away from her oppressive mother to live with her deadbeat Dad, and bonds with her Dad's much younger boyfriend (Haley Joe Osment).  Martin plays her younger brother, who is also gay.