Since 2005, the Logo network has been producing and curating content directed at the LGBT community ranging from campy, low-budget films and more serious documentaries to a Real Housewives-style reality show called The A-List. Most everyone living in an urban area will have seen the fabulous figure of RuPaul plastered on the side of a bus in an advertisement for the network’s most successful series, RuPaul’s Drag Race—a show that I watch religiously.
Imagine my surprise, then, to read in the Huffington Post yesterday that Logo is planning to program the gay away with a new slate of shows scheduled for release later this year. According to a press release announcing the shift, Logo feels that gay people have swum so far into the mainstream over the past few years that they no longer desire entertainment based solely on their sexual orientation. Ben Harvey, a blogger and podcaster at HuffPo, explains what this new ”gay-ish“ lineup will look like:
None of Logo's upcoming series include gay characters in "lead" roles. … Instead, the network has opted to green-light only female-friendly, gayish knock-offs of the reality shows Toddlers & Tiaras and Mob Wives, with show titles like Eden Wood's World and Wiseguys. Even RuPaul's Drag U is getting a revamp to reach a more mainstream audience. In other words, the new Logo will be a Cuisinart-blended cocktail of Bravo, Lifetime, and Oxygen, with a pink boa as garnish.
This is obviously just a ploy to transition Logo to a more economically lucrative ”lifestyle“ model. And actually, I’m fine with that as a business decision. What does bother me, though, is the fact that the Harvey’s explanation of this change blames viewers—especially straight women—instead of the network.
In his piece, Harvey manages to simultaneously say that women “didn't tune in to see their gay best friends making a fool of themselves on [The A-List],” (hurting ratings; though, to be fair, many gays didn’t like the show either) and that “reality-show leads are best left to the tried-and-tested bitchy straight woman.” According to Harvey, flamboyant gay men don’t do well as the lead in reality show contexts because they lose their “underdog” assistant/best-friend/hairstylist appeal to female viewers. Meanwhile, we should be thankful that Logo is “taking [gays] out of the spotlight” because it leaves all the reality show embarrassment for flamboyant women.
To put Harvey’s position simply, Logo’s old model has failed because women (and some gays) don’t like watching dramatic gay men in lead roles, and that’s fine because ladies are better at being ridiculous like that anyway. I don’t buy it. Logo’s reality shows (aside from Drag Race) were just poorly made, plain and simple. Like it or not, trashy reality TV is a major genre of our time; it can be done well (as in the wildly successful “bitchy straight woman” Real Housewives franchise) or it can suck like The A-List. Logo’s producers are the culprits here; not straight women.