Rumors persist that Torchwood, the BBC's "for adults" Doctor Who spinoff starring the omnisexually fabulous Captain Jack Harkness may be making the trip across the pond, like so many successful British shows, to a series in the United States. And like so many UK/US remixes, including the DOA travesty that was 1996's FOX 'Doctor Who' TV movie, this fact is troubling. Take a look at this comparison between Steven Moffat's wonderful early-aught's sitcom 'Coupling' and its US version.
It's called acting. Google it. And while you're there, check out the televisual abortion that was the US version of 'Red Dwarf.' Worst. Adaptation. Ever.
It's not that Torchwood is a phenomenal show, either, and occasionally the sun shines and the wind is in the right direction and we get something like 'The Office' (hell, 'All in the Family' is a remake of a British show). What concerns me more is Captain Jack.
Captain Jack Harkness sauntered on to the scene in 2005, and by the time he got his own show a year later, had emerged as really the gayest action hero ever. Tell me, America, because I'm dying to learn. Is there anyone else? With the exception of Ianto Jones, Jack's lover in the second and abbreviated third seasons of Torchwood, alternative sexualities don't fare very well in actioners. Sure, you can be a butch lesbian Vasquez-esque action hero if you're a gal, but if you're a guy and you enjoy anything other than the love of a good woman (not that there's anything wrong with that) you're reduced to mincing ineffectuality. The only exception I can possibly think of is from 2008's 'Death Race,' in which it's slyly hinted that Tyrese Gibson's Machine Gun Joe is, possibly, gay as hell.
Would a US version of the show smooth Jack out for NASCAR Dads? Is America ready for a bisexual male action character? Adam Lambert, openly gay American Idol contestant raised the collective hackles of America when he smooched his dancing partner in the finale for 'So You Think You Can Dance.' Angry letters were written. Call-in shows were called in to. "My kids watch this crap," they say, though we've been getting girl-on-girl love at prime time hours for at least a decade. It's totally fine if Olivia Wilde makes out with some lady (or ladies) in a given episode of 'House,' but if Omar Epps were to do it? (Admittedly, it might finally make Foreman interesting.)
My money is on "you betcha." Should Torchwood emerge in the United States with the same male lead it had in Britain, my presumption is that Harnkess' proclivities won't, to say nothing of a relationship between two men that doesn't paint itself in a super-broad, 'Will & Grace' sized brush.
If you ask me (and you haven't) at root of all this is the fact that female sexuality is not taken seriously by the media at large. Perhaps not by the culture. Olivia Wilde's makeout scene in House is harmless because lady-to-lady sexuality is harmless, unthreatening, and, let's face it, kind of awesome. But male sexuality, now that is serious business; and male homosexuality, if it's used in an action-TV show context at all is likely to be employed as threatening, prison-set Soap of Damocles. This is a shame.
Here's hoping they prove me wrong.