Jul 16, 2018

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 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.

More recently he has appeared in tv series such as Larry and Lucy, Angel from Hell, and Hot Girl Walks By.   He lives in L.A., but I don't know if he is gay or not.

1 comment:

  1. showering wearing a towel = FCC engineering it's own tropes

    Never be too surprised. Some time in the 90s, television realized gay people existed. Granted, if was after school special about martyred saints at first. 2002, 2003 was the time they realized gay couples could have all the love traingles, the unrequited love, the will they won't they that straight couples do. And once gender becomes less of a constraint (either by making everyone the same gender or by making one or more characters bisexual), suddenly those love triangles go into overdrive. And you can do so much more, like the "I might be bi" storyline.

    The paradox is that from Reagan to Bush, political homophobia may have become more profitable (and there are still Clinton people for whom criticism of DOMA is enough to have you blacklisted), and I remember a but of doggerel attributed to Maya Angelou endorsing Fubu mentioning that Gianni Versace was gay, but on the street, things were actually getting better.


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