Wednesday, February 12, 2020

In defense of "Boys in the Bar"

This turns out to be a nice follow up to my recent post about our CHEERS episode, "Boys in the Bar."  

Matt Baume has a YouTube series called "Culture Cruise" dealing with LGBT issues.  A few weeks ago he devoted an episode to "Boys in the Bar."

There was also an article about it in the Huffington Post, which you can find here.

Thanks, Matt.  And let me again go on record as saying I'm very proud of that episode (even if parts are now dated) and I applaud the Charles Brothers, Jimmy Burrows, and the cast for believing in it, producing it, and airing it.

Note:  Within the next few months I will be doing a commentary track on that episode for my podcast.  So keep listening. 


LinGin said...

FYI: Kenneth Tigar, the man on Norm's left, last appeared in THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE, as...Heinrich Himmler.

Ted said...

And thank you Ken for allowing my comment, where I just gave a link to an article, to stay.

I just opened the blog and saw some Jonny M calling anyone who spoke about the issue as troll / jerk and asking you to totally stop any discussion on the issue and delete the comment.

For that worked up person, here is a person who you can't just dismiss as a troll, also questioning Natalie Portman.

Hannah Beachler - The First African Woman to be nominated for Production Design Oscar and she also won for Black Panther.

You are the jerk trying to police the comments section of someone else's blog.

Sean said...

"This is not going to turn into the type of bar that I throw people out of."

Sam Malone

The character was not disrespectful of others. Have we really learned that lesson yet?


Brian Phillips said...

Thanks for the link, I've always enjoyed this episode and knowing the Charles brothers' work, they see to have (at the time, I gather) a pretty enlightened view of LGBTQ issues. Ted Danson's character on Taxi was certainly gay and Elaine Nardo was not fazed by this and before he ruined her hair even suggested a fellow she knew might be a dating possibility for him, which was almost unheard of at the time.

FRIDAY QUESTION: While looking at some old Preston Sturges movies (never a strain!), I noticed that "The Lady Eve" was not an original story by Sturges, it was an adaptation of "Two Bad Hats"by Monckton Hoffe. Have you ever wanted to adapt someone else's story for the screen?

Dan Sachs said...

I've been binge-watching Frasier and I noticed at least two episodes that deal with a similar topic; "The Matchmaker" (Season 2 1994) and "The Doctor is Out" (Season 11 2003).

Rob in Toronto said...

I didn't catch up with this episode until the series went into syndication. Speaking as a gay man, the only thing that ever bothered me about this episode was that characters I had grown to love (Norm & Cliff) proved to be less tolerant than I would have liked to think they would be. But still a great episode.

Mike Bloodworth said...

I've always wondered about how many people laughed at shows like this and then had to backtrack thinking, "Oh, right! Political correctness." Or those who secretly love it, but have to put on the face of indignation lest they be attacked by the public or especially by members of their own communities. This is not exclusive to homosexuals, but could be applicable to any group with an axe to grind.
As Ken knows I'm of mixed ethnicity. And today there are some depictions in movies and TV shows that I personally find insulting. But not all. Many, I get the joke and it's funny. Mostly I consider the intent. Was something truly meant to be hateful? Was it something said in ignorance? Or is it true? Uncomfortable, but true.
In reality, if I'm laughing it probably didn't bother me that much.

Brian said...

That was a great episode Ken. Looking forward to the commentary. Here's a virtual High Five.

DBenson said...

I know I cited this before, but a favorite moment much later had Norm and Cliff gawking at a photo of Rebecca's rival, a glamorous model. When Rebecca huffily dismissed her as not that hot, Norm and Cliff summoned an acquaintance and showed him the photo. He did a small take, said, "I'd switch" and walked off. So by then they were on friendly terms with at least one gay guy. Neat that there was nothing stereotypical about the guy, but the audience got it instantly.

Mae said...

He analyses Frasier too

Edward said...

For some reason, seeing YouTube critics issue their opinions 30+ years after a television episode aired is B.S. Many times the critic is not taking into consideration the time period, the process of writing and rewriting a script, approval from the producers, possible pushback from the cast and lastly and network execs along with the nice people in Standard and Practices.

While many of these channels have a small number of views, occasionally a video blows up and then the writer or actor is attacked by 24-hour cable news who weigh in with the'roundtable' or Panel of Idiots then the Social Media Lynch Mob trolls provide their uninformed opinions and make death threats.

Anonymous said...

Ted -

I am not trying to silence a conversation. My note to Ken was to moderate the vitriol in the comments. People who say stuff like, "I hate Natalie 'Privileged Asshole' Portman" and "Natalie Portman is a low life scoundrel" and "Natalie Portman's dress made her look like she has chest hair." All those comments sound troll-like to me.

Read how Hannah Beachler puts it, "I applaud you for the dress, but let’s do, not perform." That is a different kind of statement.

And I read the article you posted. The people on Twitter have about point meaningless performative activism in general. But in my mind, these cherry picked Tweets ironically suffer from the same kind of performative activism they seek to damn. What more are they than mere words with no real action or power behind them?

Francis Dollarhyde said...

The episode is from early in the show's run and the characters hadn't fully developed, though. I imagine the Norm of later seasons, who is much more of a live-and-let-live sort of schlub, would shrug it off and not bother to make the effort of engaging in gay panic.

-3- said...

I'm having a little trouble at the concept level here; help me out...

One character is shocked and freaks when a friend comes out, but given a short bit of time to process, he steps up and publicly supports his gay friend.

Other characters freak out at the possibility of a 'gay invasion' and are shown to be complete fools.

Seemingly gay individuals turn out to be just people, and the actual gay folks are actually indistinguishable from anybody else.

So, what are the complaints about?
How dare you acknowledge that such people exist? We conquered that and it's gone now?

Or is it that you showed that those attitudes could be hiding in someone you know and maybe even love?

Why - *gasp!* - You could even be insinuating that i could be harboring such feelings?!!

How Dare You, Sir!

Yeah, no wonder i hermit.

Amanda said...

Oh! I was hoping you would eventually do a commentary track for that episode. Can't wait!

Rob in Toronto said...

Francis is quite correct that the characters in this episode were early versions who evolved in many ways over the course of the series. In one later episode during the Rebecca years, Norm was not above pretending to be gay when he saw the positive effect it had generating clients for his painting/decorating business.

Brian Phillips said...

Note to Dan Sachs: the same video blogger that Ken Levine recommended also has an episode that deals with "The Doctor is Out".

Mick Funz said...

The other thing to remember about the Cliff and Norm characters is that they are sexually inexperienced and immature. I *think* Cliff was a virgin until he met the character "Maggie" and Norm admitted that Vera was the only woman he was ever with. They're still developing here.