The whitest, straightest Neighbours in the world
Channel Ten soapie, Neighbours is so far behind the times all that’s missing from the Ramsay Street set is an FJ Holden and a Hills Hoist washing line.
Case in point: last night’s episode of the popular show where male gay characters, Chris and Aiden, share their first on-screen kiss.
Well, whoop de do. Feels a little bit 1985, especially for a show that’s dominated its time slot for 27 years. Surely that’s time enough to understand your audience? So what’s taken them so long to get on board with gay relationships?
It’s a bad reflection of Australian society too. One that suggests that we’re all happy to live in claustrophobic version of suburbia with a pretty average pub and coffee shop to keep us amused all day. Given that Neighbours has an energetic international following, that’s not much of a tourism boost either.
Perhaps Neighbours’ producers were actually waiting for a turn in public opinion. After all, it’s only a recent poll that found approximately 62 per cent of us are in support of gay marriage.
This is a marked change since the very first Neighbours lesbian kiss, between Natalie Saleeba and Nicky Whelan, back in March 2007 when public support for gay unions was at 52 per cent. That scene, which was completely engineered for a much needed ratings boost, ended up being completely ignored. Which begs the question, is two girl’s kissing that much less interesting than two boys?
Producers say it all comes down to ratings. In an interview last year, Neighbours executive producer Susan Bowen said the show was unlikely to show a kiss between the gay male characters because of its G rating. But that’s hardly an excuse. Straight couples on Neighbours kiss all the time. Plus, its move in January this year to the same timeslot on Channel 11 has given a boost to a PG rating.
But homosexuality is not the only thing the show seems slow to move on. Lack of non-Caucasian characters has also been bug-bear. The show was even described by Britain’s anti-racism watchdog as “hideously white”. A problem they only really addressed in February this year with the addition of the Indian Kapoor family: Ajay, Priya and their teenage daughter Rani.
It’s clearly a case of better late than never for the people of Ramsay Street.
Neighbours producers say they deliberately chose to delay the televised kiss and decided on an understated approach to last night’s kissing scene.
‘‘It’s not sensationalist or token - we are very proud of the way we have done this,’’ the show’s executive producer, Susan Bowery said.
One thing is for sure, the viewers don’t seem to mind.
According to the Herald Sun, last night’s episode received a warm welcome from the public, with lots of people turning to Twitter to express their support for the kiss.
Sentiments perfectly summed up by this: @james_mason15 for showing its ok to be gay. Be proud, tweeted another fan.
Let’s also hope Chris and Aiden, the characters in question, get another go of it soon. One kiss every year is not a good sign in any relationship.
Follow me on Twitter: @lucyjk
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