Mar 10, 2015

The First Gay Couple on Children's TV

Children's cartoons are a vast wasteland, not only erasing gay people from the world, but erasing any hint of family structures other than heterosexual husband-wife-and-kids.  Think of Fairly Oddparents, Doug, Hey Arnold, The Wild Thornberries, As Told by Ginger, The Proud Family, My Gym Partner's a Monkey, The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy, 

Rugrats had a single Dad whose wife had died.

Foster's Home For Imaginary Friends had a single Mom, husband not mentioned.

Phineas and Ferb belonged to  a blended family, other parents not mentioned.

And that's about it.

Live-action children's tv doesn't fare much better.

Drake and Josh belonged to a blended family, but the other parents were not mentioned.

ICarly had a girl being raised by her older brother, her parents not mentioned and presumed dead.

The Suite Life of Zack and Cody had the twins being raised by a divorced mom.

And that's about it.

So Clarence (2013-) on the Cartoon Network is groundbreaking.

1. The titular character, the chubby, cheerful Clarence, lives with his mother and her live-in boyfriend, Chad, who appears to be a caveman or Sasquatch.

Cohabitating heterosexuals?  That has never been seen on children's tv before, ever!

2. Clarence's best friend, the square-headed Jeff (voiced by Sean Giambrone of The Goldbergs) lives with two Moms!

A lesbian couple?  That has never been seen on children's tv before, ever!

I don't count the single scene on the last episode of Disney's Good Luck, Charlie, in which two Moms appear briefly, discomfort the heterosexuals, and then vanish.

Jeff's parents are a butch-femme lesbian couple.  E.J., who wears masculine-coded clothing and has a square head, like Jeff has been referenced in two episodes.

She has a major role in "Jeff Wins," in which Boomer prepares for a cooking contest.

Sue, who has red hair and feminine-coded clothing, appears only in "Jeff Wins."

Clarence is not the least surprised to discover that Jeff has two Moms.  That bridge was passed long ago.

E.J. is voiced by Lea DeLaria (left), a well-known lesbian comedian with screen roles including  Friends, The Drew Carey Show, More Tales of the City, Will & Grace, Californication, and Orange is the New Black.

Sue is voiced by Tig Notaro, a lesbian stand-up comic who is writing a memoir about her childhood in Mississippi, her comedy career, and her battle with cancer.

Jeffs Moms have not been referenced in the second season; perhaps they will vanish into oblivion.

But it's a start.

See also: The First Gay Kiss on Children's TV