August 10, 2009By Mala Bhattacharjee Posted: Aug 10, 2009
I think I spent the entire weekend in a Kish-induced haze — leading me to conclude something that's probably not all that shocking: OLTL's Kyle Lewis represents daytime's new generation of gay characters. He's just your average joe — with a taste for blackmail and a guy named Fish — soap character.
The closest we've come before this is probably GH: NIGHT SHIFT's Kyle (Adam Grimes), who was a doctor with the same problems as anybody else in the hospital. There was no issue of him coming out of or going into any closets. He was a friend, a brother, a dedicated physician, and a guy who fell in love with one of his patients. AMC's Lena Kundera (Olga Sosnovska), Bianca's first serious girlfriend after Sarah, was another character whose sexuality was just a part of her and not a platform for anything. These were just people doing what people do on a soap. I had initially hoped that Y&R's Adam would hold this distinction as well ... turning out to be a bisexual villain, but the show back-peddled from that story so fast that I'm surprised they didn't trip over something. Adam manipulated another guy — NAKED — but, hey, he's not into boys that way. Riiiight.
Heck, the only bisexual characters on daytime right now are GL's Natalia and Olivia, neither of whom negate their past relationships with men and their perhaps ongoing attraction to men (hi, Josh!) just because they love each other. Olivia's very much still Olivia: the broken, dysfunctional woman who will turn to anyone for just a smidge of validation. But the character's been on a ten year path, and it's a little bit of a different story than bringing on a brand-new LGBT character.
OLTL's Kyle is gay from the get-go...in the most shrug-worthy, blasé of ways. His sexuality is as much a footnote to him as it is to hetero characters like Rex or Blair. He never really announced it to anyone, and that's where the writers were brilliant. Kyle turned down Gigi's advances when she tried to get info out of him by just saying she didn't have anything he wants. And Roxy figured out he was gay mostly by context and things unspoken (catching a guy mooning over a photo will do that). And Kyle's not sanitized, sainted and beloved. He's no one's poster child. AMC's Bianca, by virtue of being the legendary Erica Kane's daughter and the trailblazer, became all of the above. They couldn't really let her be a bitch or, as Roxy might say, "let her freak flag fly." Lest she undo the whole process of introducing daytime to a core gay character. And Binks learned the hard way during Eden Riegel's 2008-09 return that going from saint to sinner wouldn't fly with viewers. The show tried, too late, to turn PV's most benevolent lesbian into someone who might have a secret baby with her brother-in-law. Fans weren't havin' it. Kyle, by virtue of starting out a blackmailer and crazy Rebecca's baby brother, has no pedestal to plummet from.
And he's found a perfectly imperfect match in terminally nice Oliver, who's currently doing something not-so nice by dating Layla and breaking poor Kyle's heart. Yes, Fish is grappling with his orientation and there will be a coming out element to this story, but I really think (okay, hope) it's not going to be an after-school special. Because these are just guys trying to live their lives. And all my Kyle praise is not meant to diminish Fish in the least. It's just that Oliver's journey is different; he still has to get to the place where Kyle already is...and, believe me, I can't wait till he gets there!