May 4, 2015

Who is Gay in "Get Fuzzy"?

Stephen Pastis (born 1967) and Darby Conley (born 1970) both belong to the new generation of comic strip artists who create "edgy" material rather than endlessly repeating gags about husbands asleep on couches and pot roasts in the oven. Their strips, Pearls Before Swine and Get Fuzzy, began at the same time (1999 and 2001, respectively).  They both feature a grumpy, bigoted animal and his goodnatured sidekick.

But they could not be more different.

Get Fuzzy (the title means something like "think outside the box") is set in a naturalistic world, with recognizably normal streets and houses, people who have jobs, buy groceries, and get back injuries.  Cats and dogs can talk, read books, and use money, but they are still dependent on humans; they are less house pets than adopted children.

The central character, Rob Wilco, is a 20-something advertising executive living in Boston, a nerd who reads Harry Potter and follows New Zealand rugby, a liberal who supports Greenpeace and animal rights. Occasionally his friends and members of his family show up, but most strips involve interactions with his pets/children:
1. Satchel, a gentle, dopey, and somewhat feminine dog
2. Bucky, an angry, bigoted cat.






The first years of the strip were the best, with plot arcs involving Bucky's feud with the ferret next door that eventually ends up on Judge Judy; a trip to Canada, where Satchel reconciles with his long-lost father; and an extended visit by the Manchester-accented Mac Manc McMax.  More recently, the strips have been gag-a-day jokes about Bucky saying something idiotic about liberals, Canadians, vegetarians, women, or humans in general, and Rob shutting him down.

Gay references -- without using the term -- are scattered throughout the strips.  Mac misunderstands the term "drag racing."  Rob suggests a domestic partnership between male dogs.  Satchel, who has been hiding in the closet, announces that he's "coming out," and Bucky says "I've been waiting three years for you to say that."










Although Satchel often falls in love with female dogs and humans, he has many feminine traits, which Bucky uses as evidence that he's gay. In one strip, he asks Rob, "Why are you hiding it from me?  There's nothing wrong with it?"  Rob says that "He's not...", whereupon Satchel rushes into the room to announce that his new Barbra Streisand album is "Fabulous!'  Bucky points and stares.




Perhaps more interesting is the fan speculation that Rob himself is gay.  He's a single parent with two adopted "children."  He is young, attractive, and well-off financially, certainly able to attract partners, but he is never shown dating women.  When relatives comment on his lack of female dates, he angrily tells them to drop the subject.



Of course, Rob is never shown dating men, either.  In early strips he was sometimes shown hanging out with a male friend named Joe, but in 2007 Joe was definitively dropped from the strip -- he got a job in France and moved away.

To alleviate suspicion that Rob is gay?

See also: Pearls Before Swine.