How Two and a Half Men Is Addressing the Stigma of LGBT AdoptionsSuzanne Jannese
The hit comedy Two and a Half Men is no stranger to controversy, having weathered the storms of Charlie Sheen’s departure back in 2011 and Angus T. Jones’ (AKA: Jake’s) outburst in 2012 when he denounced the show as “filth,” and their latest storyline will certainly raise eyebrows again.
Walden (played by Ashton Kutcher) will overcome a health scare, realize the meaning of life, pretend to have a relationship with Alan (played by Jon Cryer), hold a fake wedding, and then adopt a child with him. Yup, we’re in for a busy final season.
According to Nina Tassler, the CBS chairman at the Television Critics Association’s press tour: “[Walden] wants to find a way to add more meaning to his life so he decides he wants to adopt a child. In doing so, he starts the process and realizes that it’s very difficult to adopt a child as a single, straight man.”
So Walden, who already formed a family with Alan and his son Jake, believes the solution to his problem is to propose to Alan and adopt as a gay couple. But of course, life is never simple. And surprisingly, Tassler doesn’t expect controversy with such a storyline. In fact, she thinks it can only do good. “I think it’s a very positive statement that, you know what, I am going to adopt a child as [part of] a gay couple and the reality is, he can do that,” she said, noting that this is progress “in a universe where at one point you couldn’t do that.”
The reaction so far? Watchdog group GLAAD has commented, “We hope the show will acknowledge not only the progress made in acceptance of gay and lesbian couples, but also the fact that — in many areas of the country — same-sex couples are often under greater scrutiny or still barred from adoption options that straight couples have.”
GLAAD has a point. States such as Mississippi and Utah bar same-sex couples from petitioning for adoption. This seems ludicrous in today’s society, where it has been proven by the medical, psychological, and social welfare communities that children raised by gay and lesbian parents are just as likely to be well-adjusted as those raised by heterosexual parents. The most important factor in a child’s life is to be raised in a caring, loving household. Why would it ever matter what sexual orientation the couple had? Isn’t it about time that we had more families like this shown on network TV so the stigma and prejudice surrounding such adoptions can be buried once and for all?
This comes in the same week that GLAAD issued a report finding that out of the 102 films released by the seven major studios last year, only 17 of them included gay characters. And even worse, most of these characters only had a few minutes of screen time or were blatant stereotypes. “What’s disheartening for me and to all of us in GLAAD is when it comes to major studio films, LGBT people are basically invisible,” GLAAD national spokesman Wilson Cruz told the Daily News. “And when we do show up, it’s largely a part of comedies as caricatures to service a joke that’s at the expense of the character.”
In 2014, is that really how far we’ve come? Even though we’re far more politically correct about the LGBT community these days, we still don’t have the courage to feature them in a “normal” light, choosing instead to use them as comedic relief or to give an otherwise bland film “edge.” In every way, this is still discrimination.
GLAAD gave rave reviews to the heartwarming film Philomena, which is based on the true story of an Irish woman who was forced by the Catholic Church to give up her son and then set out on a quest years later to find him. Eventually she discovers he had a career in the White House, was in a loving gay relationship, and died from AIDS. This film (you’ll need a box of tissues to watch it) is one of the most poignant family stories that one could ever watch, and the fact Michael is gay is irrelevant. The most shocking moment was discovering that Michael was looking for his mother just as she was looking for him, but the nuns chose not to connect them. How disappointing that it takes a true story like this to honestly represent the LGBT community.
According to Cruz, “There seems to be this vicious circle, [with] studios saying they weren’t getting scripts that were inclusive, while writers were telling us the studios weren’t interested in making films [with] LBGT in them.” So where does the buck stop? Who will take responsibility for the lack of films and TV shows featuring a gay couple? Who suffers in all this? With over 104,000 children in foster care waiting to be adopted, perhaps it’s the children.
When I was a teenager, I was desperate for my best friend to have a sleepover at my house. After months of my friend trying to persuade her parents to allow this to happen, they finally told her that she would never be able to stay at my house because my mom and her boyfriend weren’t married. In fact, they called my home “a house of sin.” I was stunned when I heard this. I knew my best buddy’s dad was a church minister, but I didn’t expect their beliefs to affect our friendship so heavily. It also made me feel less “normal” to live in such a “disreputable” home, which I may add, was anything but.
I have been friends with this girl for 32 years now; she is godmother to my children and her parents have long since apologized for their mistake. My mom’s boyfriend is still in my life; I call him my surrogate dad, even though he’s no longer with my mother. That “house of sin” was probably the most stable home I could have had.
The reason I mention this is that my home was normal. What makes one home more normal than another? Everyone is unique. Isn’t it about time that we stopped judging and started to celebrate all types of families; as long as they are filled with love and support, how could they possibly be wrong?
So Two and a Half Men, I think you are doing a brilliant and, yes, brave thing. Fingers crossed that you show the pitfalls and heartache of same-sex adoption, and that you shed light on the fact that the world is saying, “Yes, we accept this,” while still making it difficult for these couples to adopt.
I, for one, will be tuning in. Will you?
Photo credit: Amazon.com