I do this thing, when I find a show I like, where I obsessively watch all of the episodes I can get my hands on back-to-back. And while I’m doing that (and usually finishing up some rad knitting project – multitasking for the win!), I do this other thing where I keep a tally in my head, sorting details of the show into columns I label “awesome” and “not awesome.”
The latest show to receive this treatment from me is Kyle XY, a sort of science fiction/teen drama show that first appealed to me because of the title character’s awesome abs (seriously. Bellybutton or not, that’s a hot six-pack) and then grew on me because of its engaging characters and interestingly twisty plot.
For the first couple days of my obsessive show-watching, this is what my internal “not awesome” column looked like:
* Really bad science (omg, you guys, it is so bad)
* Very few people of color
* Also, where are the fat people?
* Occasionally terrible dialogue
Whereas the “awesome” column went something like this:
* Lots of female characters, with range of characterization similar to that of male characters
* Young women who are sexually active and aren’t cosmically punished for it (though they do get some flack from peers, on occasion)
* Great teenager interactions
* Great family interactions featuring loving but occasionally flawed parents, as well as loving but occasionally irresponsible kids
* Truly scary villains, some of whom are women
* References to classic sci-fi that make my oldskool heart go pitter-pat
Then, when I watched the second season episode “Free to be You and Me,” I had the distinct pleasure of crossing one of the “not awesome” items off that list. This episode’s plot featured some discriminatory behavior on the part of the local high school (refusal to sell tickets to a school dance at the cheaper couples rate to same-sex couples) followed by some civil disobedience on the part of several of the often-featured teens on the show (including the title character and his adoptive sister), sparking several discussions amongst the main characters about homosexuality and prompting the revelation from one increasingly-important second season character, Andy, that she has two moms.
It would’ve been extra-cool if one of the characters who gets significant face-time on the show turned out to be queer, but I really appreciated that the topic came up at all.
And it felt darn good to cross “heteronormative” off the “not awesome” column and add “acknowledges existence of homosexuality in an overall positive way” under “awesome.”
Kyle XY is not the best show evar, but it is a fun show (with, seriously, lots of great female characters), and I think it’s got more going for it under the “awesome” column than not, at this point. Here’s hoping that it’ll get even more awesome than that.