Entertainment

01.28.14

Disney Channel Aired Its First Gay Couple. It Was 'Fine.'

The first gay couple ever on the children's channel appeared in this week's episode of 'Good Luck Charlie.' The no-big-deal approach to introducing them? Kind of a big deal.

While you were busy reading your 27th think piece on Macklemore performing “Same Love” at the Grammys and Looking being boring, something actually kind of monumental happened: the Disney Channel featured its first gay couple on an episode of one of its original series.

Good Luck Charlie, one of the network’s most popular original comedies, featured a lesbian couple on Sunday’s episode. The plot was refreshingly innocuous, but pointed enough to let it be known that it was, you know, kind of a big deal that a Disney Channel series aimed at young children was taking this step.

The very sitcom-y premise: parents Bob and Amy Duncan set up a playdate for their daughter, Charlie, with her friend, Taylor and Taylor’s parents. Amy says the mother’s name is Susan. Bob swears he met her before…but her name is Cheryl. When they arrive, they find out that they were both right. Taylor has two mothers, and their names are Susan and Cheryl. Here’s the scene:

Video screenshot

It’s so painfully clear what will happen when Bob and Amy open the door—Oh my god! Two moms!—that you almost cringe in anticipation of a groan-worthy gag or borderline offensive punchline. But the actual joke was neither of those things! Bob facepalms his forehead. “Taylor has two moms,” he says, in a “duh!” manner signaling that’s there’s nothing else to be discussed about it. That it’s no big deal. That it’s fine.

In fact, Disney was so bullish about this whole idea that Taylor having two moms was “fine” that it even put in the episode’s plot description that ran on TVGuide.com: “In the storyline, parents Amy and Bob Duncan (Leigh-Allyn Baker and Eric Allan Kramer) set up a playdate for preschooler Charlie (Mia Talerico) and one of her new friends. When the kid arrives, the Duncans learn that Charlie’s pal has two moms. That’s fine [emphasis ours], but the potential new friendship is put to the test as one mom chats with Amy, and the other is stuck listening to Bob's dull stories.”

As amusing as it is that Disney felt the need to editorialize the plot description, it is good news that the company is, indeed, fine with showing a gay couple on the series. When it was announced back in June that they would be doing the episode, Disney’s spokesperson was happy to say just how fine they were with it, saying the plot was developed “under the consultancy of child development experts and community advisers. And like Disney Channel programming, it was developed to be relevant to kids and families around the world and to reflect themes of diversity and inclusiveness.”

While Disney was fine—so fine!—with its decision to feature a gay couple, the anti-gay group One Million Moms, predictably, was not. Here’s a little bit of the hogwash 250-word “Calling all parents!” bulletin it put out encouraging a viewer and advertiser boycott of the show: “Just because something may be legal or because some are choosing a lifestyle doesn’t make it morally correct.”

The move did have two very high-profile fans, though, in Evan Rachel Wood and former Disney princess herself, Miley Cyrus:

There are, as there always are, reasons for some to be dissatisfied with the extent of Disney’s gesture, and some who may view it as empty. To begin with, it was a fringe storyline on the episode—not part of the main plot. There’s also the fact that these characters aren’t slated to appear in any more episodes of the series because—oh yeah—the next new episode of Good Luck Charlie will be its series finale.

But you know what? That’s still fine.