Feb 12, 2013

My Two Moms: Fred Koehler

Fred Koehler is short and rather husky, with a round, handsome face and a befuddled expression that makes him perfect for roles as oddball outsiders with no heterosexual interests.  Instead, they are gay-vague, yearning for love, acceptance, and family.

Like Ben Sharpless, teenage son of the obsessive sheriff Nolan in Birdseye (2002).

Or Andrew Schillinger, son of the white supremacist Vern Schillinger on Oz (1999-2003). (Who, by the way, gets several nude scenes, including a frontal.)

Or the mentally handicapped Pemon in Little Chenier (2006).

Or the obsessive-compulsive Lists in the Death Race franchise (2008, 2010, 2012).

But Boomers will always think of Fred Koehler as Chip, the child of two moms (Susan Saint James, Jane Curtin) on the sitcom Kate and Allie (1984-89).  Ok, they're heterosexual roommates, not lesbian life partners, but they provide a stable home, each acting as a mother to all of the kids, so what's the difference?

They even suffer a bit of reverse discrimination.  Their landlords, a lesbian couple, plan to classify them as two families and charge them double rent, until they are convinced that family consists of people who love each other, regardless of whether they are sleeping in the same bed.  

The lesbian landlords appeared only in that one episode.  The rest of the series was gay-free, but the message has remained throughout Fred's career: family is family.