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American Television, Situation Comedies  
 
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The second progeny of Will and Grace was the CBS sitcom Some of My Best Friends, which premiered in February, 2001 and starred Jason Bateman as Warren Fairbanks, a gay writer who needs someone to share his Greenwich Village apartment after his boyfriend moves out. The show was based on Tony Vitale's 1997 movie Kiss Me, Guido, and follows the movie's plot fairly closely. Warren places an advertisement in the local paper for a GWM (Gay White Male) roommate, and Bronx Italian hunk Frankie (Danny Nucci) responds--only he thinks that GWM stands for "Guy With Money."

Jason Bateman described the show as a contemporary Odd Couple and, although the show featured no shortage of stereotypes (the flamboyant Vern, played by Alec Mapa, and the dimwitted macho Italian Pino, played by Michael DeLuise), the lead actors consciously attempted to give their characters a sense of normalcy. After a midseason start, however, Some of My Best Friends was given a summer hiatus and never returned.

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In fall 2003, amidst the clamor of political pundits debating the pros and cons of same-sex marriage, ABC, the former home of TV's pathbreaking Ellen, launched It's All Relative, the network's version of Will and Grace with a twist.

It's All Relative centered around a long-term committed gay couple whose highly intelligent, Harvard-educated daughter, is determined to marry her working-class bartender boyfriend. Her boyfriend's father does not take kindly to gays, but for the sake of the kids, the future in-laws must figure out a way to get along. Craig Zadan, one of the show's co-executive producers, noted that the show's humor came from the conflict between blue-collar and snooty people, rather than from the conflict between gays and straights.

According to the show's co-creator and co-writer Chuck Ranberg, It's All Relative traded in some degree of stereotyping for both gay and straight parents, but as Zadan noted in an Advocate interview, the goal of It's All Relative was to use stereotypes and break them down, all the while making sure that these stereotypes were blended with corresponding amounts of humanity. In fact one of the show's revolutionary qualities stemmed directly from breaking a powerful television stereotype by presenting a committed gay relationship normally and matter-of-factly, as an average, middle-class couple who cook, work, and pay the bills.

The show was also revolutionary for its casting of two openly gay actors, Christopher Sieber and John Benjamin Hickey, in the roles of the gay couple. Hickey remarked to The Advocate that the fact both men are gay really added to the on-set chemistry. Unfortunately, and despite its promise, It's All Relative suffered from low ratings and was not renewed for a second season.

ABC quickly followed the cancellation of It's All Relative by debuting the serio-comic nighttime soap opera Desperate Housewives in fall 2004. Although originally premised around the lives of five upper middle class suburban women: three married housewives, one divorcee, and one "slut," Desperate Housewives nevertheless had a decidedly queer sensibility.

Not only was the show created by openly gay writer and producer Marc Cherry, its ensemble included Lee McDermott (Kevin Rahm) and his partner Bob Hunter (Tuc Watkins), a gay couple who moved on to Wisteria Lane in 2007. But perhaps the most prominent gay character on the series was Andrew Van de Camp (Shawn Pyfrom).

According to Samuel Chambers, Andrew--the son of Martha Stewart-clone Bree Van de Camp--finds himself in the strictest, most uptight family on Wisteria Lane, making him the character perhaps most likely to be caught naked and kissing a male friend. This is precisely what transpired in the "Impossible" episode (air date February 20, 2005), when divorcee housewife Susan (Teri Hatcher) discovers Andrew making out in a swimming pool with teen gardener Justin (Ryan Carnes). As Sarah Warn has pointed out, the steamy but brief makeout session between Andrew and Justin marked only the sixth male-male kiss in network television history, compared with over 30 network television shows airing kisses between women.

In short order, ABC followed Andrew's outing on Desperate Housewives with the appearance of gay personal assistant Marc St. James (Michael Urie), tap-dancing and show-tune-loving teenager Justin Suarez (Mark Indelicato), gossipy gay fashionista Suzuki St. Pierre (Alec Mapa), and the scheming transgendered character Alexis Meade (Rebecca Romijn) on the Emmy Award-winning hit comedy Ugly Betty, which aired from 2006-2010.

In a 2011 interview with the Huffington Post, out actor Michael Urie stated that when he looked at the things the cast was doing on Ugly Betty, it amazed him to see how far society had come, not just on TV, but as a society generally. Urie's character Marc, for instance, was a fashion-loving, unashamedly flamboyant gay man, while Justin Suarez's coming out of the closet paved the way for a recurring array of out primetime gay characters. In fact, after suggestively tiptoeing around Justin's sexuality since the beginning of the series, Ugly Betty creator Silvio Horta told The Advocate that Justin's coming out was only the beginning of his story, a story culminating in a memorable kiss with classmate Austin (Ryan McGinnis).

In addition to winning Emmy and Golden Globe awards, Ugly Betty also received the GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Comedy Series in 2007 and 2008. As Eric Deggans has noted, Ugly Betty was packaged like a glitzy, fashion-fueled soap opera that merged Latino, gay, and geek cultures into a percolating tale of an underdog's struggle.

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