Jan 3, 2016

The Homophobic Gay Ally of "The War at Home"

All in the Family hit the heights of television glory in the 1970s with bigot Archie Bunker.  He hated blacks, Puerto Ricans, Jews, Italians, Poles, women's libbers, gays, and just about everyone else, to the consternation of his easygoing wife and radical-hippie daughter and son-in-law.

Everybody loved him, right?  So why not try it again 30 years later?

Enter The War at Home (2005-2007), starring Michael Rappaport as obnoxious jerk Dave Gold, who hates blacks, Puerto Ricans, Muslims, women's libbers, liberals, and gays (not Jews because he's Jewish).

He has an easygoing wife and three teenage kids: horny Hillary (Kaylee DeFer), obviously not named after Hillary Clinton; feminine Larry (Kyle Sullivan); and teen operator Mike (Dean Collins, left).

Most storylines involved Dave's obnoxious prejudices, his hatred of sex (no matter who has it), or a combination of the two:
Hillary dates a black man!
Hillary has sex with a black man!
Mike has sex!
Larry starts to masturbate!
Larry wears women's clothes!
Larry kisses a boy!  (Actually, a girl in men's clothes).

It was impossible to watch, vulgar, obnoxious, horrible.

The problem is: you felt sorry for Archie Bunker.  He was a product of the 1930s, when white heterosexual male supremacy was practically unquestioned.  (Remember the theme song, "Goils were goils and men were men").  He was a relic of the past, lost in a rapidly-changing world.

Dave Gold is a product of the 1970s, when Civil Rights, Gay Rights, and Women's Rights were already underway.  He lives in an ultra-liberal Long Island milieu.  There is no reason for his prejudices.  They exist just so the character can say outrageous things, like Peter Griffin on Family Guy (which aired immediately afterwards).

After a year of groaning critics and bad ratings, it became obvious that Dave Gold had to clean up his act, become kinder, gentler, less obnoxious.  So Larry's school friend Kenny (Rami Malek) comes out, gets kicked out of the house by his conservative Muslim father, and moves in with the Golds.

 Dave dives head-first into the problem of gay kids being rejected by their families, even serving up a PSA for the Trevor Project at the end of some episodes.  He also dives into Kenny's love life, buying the embarrassed kid a copy of The Joy of Gay Sex and quizzing him on lubricants and dildos.

Wait -- was this the guy who hated Muslims, gays, and sex last year?  It was completely out of character -- and Dave looked positively aghast during the Trevor Project PSAs.  After winning a GLAAD Award for a portrayal of the only gay Muslim on tv, The War at Home was cancelled.

See also: Dean Collins.