Logo, the LGBT-themed TV network that launched in 2005, announced its new slate of programming this week, and a pretty big change along with it: starting now, the Viacom-owned station will shift its focus away from airing shows with queer leads. The place that brought you the highs of RuPaul's Drag Race, the lows of The A-List: Dallas, and the never-ending repeats of Queer As Folk will now bring you… this:
Greenlighted programs for the spring and fall include Design My Dog, a canine makeover series from the creators of America’s Next Top Model; Eden Wood’s World, an unscripted series about Toddlers & Tiara’s 6-year-old diva Eden Wood; and Wiseguys, a sort of Real Housewives meets Mob Wives show following a straight Mafia princess‘ adjustment to life in L.A.
The reasoning behind the change, according to general manager Lisa Sherman, goes something like this: as queer people have become more integrated into society at large (and TV at large as well), they've also lost interest in watching exclusively queer content with queer characters. Instead, they'd like to watch the saddest makeover show I've ever heard of in my life, the saddest version of Gypsy you could legally tape without police intervention, and a nature documentary about competing species of spoiled brats thrust into the same niche. (This is called "Bravofication.")
You probably think I'm bitter because of the move away from LGBT leads, and… you're not wrong. Sure, we have series like Modern Family and Brothers and Sisters and Glee (ugh), but if you take away one or two of the shows doing the heavy lifting, it's not so pretty a picture. So yeah, I do think it's important to have a channel with a mission of providing LGBT protagonists. (Also, it gives you a chance at having characters who aren't well-off white guys in committed monogamous relationships. Believe it or not, the LGBT community is actually more diverse than that. Fact.)
But honestly, Logo was never very good. Real talk: their original programming is rough, girl. Watching The A-List was like having an idiot take your side in argument; you kind of want them to just shut up because maybe they're doing more harm than good. In truth I'm more upset that when it finally showed a glimmer of promise — that would be RuPaul's Drag Race, truly one of the best and most interesting pieces of reality TV around — it took a head-long dive into the grimy pool of grotesquerie exemplified by the hydra of Real Housewives, Jersey Shore, and Toddlers & Tiaras. I'm not above watching… any of those shows, really. These things have their place; sometimes as cultural objects they are beyond fascinating. (And yeah, sometimes they're fun.) But to make that your focus, as so many other networks already have, just feels kind of sad.
The good news, of course, is that it turns out we gays really are just like anyone else. Especially when it comes to crappy TV.