I love Torchwood. I have all the annoying enthusiasm of someone who has just discovered a show/music/event/issue that everyone else has known about for years. I’m just jumping with eagerness to bore someone to tears, so thanks for stopping by. Sit down for a bit. Want some coffee?
As I was saying, so many people were tweeting about Torchwood and referring to it in blogs that I felt like I was missing out on the biggest event in popular culture. I mean, if it’s a trending topic on twitter, surely I need to investigate. Now that I’ve seen a few episodes, I feel so much more au currant.
Now, what do I like about Torchwood? Well, I was really impressed by the snappy writing and stellar acting.
Ha ha ha. Yeah, right.
First, the cast all look as if they could be served up with whipped cream, strawberries and a glass of chardonnay. I mean, just look at them:
Aren’t they as tender and delightful as a spring morning? Don't you just want to take them home and have a rumpus? No? Well, whatever. Are you sure you're breathing?
But really, I only had to hear one word: “gay.” That pretty much sealed it for me, 'cause if there’s a gay angle, I am so there. Just call me a voyeuristic deviant. In fact, if you do I’ll say “thanks” because I’ve really been neglecting that side of my personality.
Anyway, I don’t just casually think, “Hey, I’ll check out that show when it comes on next.” No, I’m an obsessive researcher. I scour the Internet for interviews, bios of the actors, episode guides, clips. I’ve now watched wobbly film snippets of the actors speaking at conventions, fan-made videos of favorite scenes overlaid with popular music, and interviews from British talk shows.
So of course I found out that Torchwood pretty much goes to town - girls with aliens, boys with aliens, girls with girls, boys with boys. Or, as one article put it, the sexuality of the characters is “fluid.” And I think we can all agree that fluid sexuality makes for some really good TV. Or maybe you think it's morally corrupt entertainment that plays to our basest instincts. We should check you for a pulse.
One thing I discovered in my research is that the actors are completely adorable off screen. They remind me of the theater kids from high school and college – loud, extroverted, mischievous, always performing, frequently outrageous, and so full of boisterous energy that your life begins to look colorless in comparison. And you wonder if perhaps you missed a turn somewhere, because everyone seems to be having heaps of fun, and wouldn't it be lovely to have an invite?
And you would not believe how these fictional gay romances obsess fans. Well, maybe you do. Here I am, obviously. But the fangirls pursue the topic with a tenacity that boggles the mind. I guess since men have been fantasizing about girl on girl action (not neglected on Torchwood, either) for years, the ladies have jumped at the chance to even the score. Surely those who play straight lovers on TV are not constantly plied with requests that they kiss off screen the way John Barrowman and Gareth David Lloyd are. Not that they aren’t happy to oblige. Not that they seem to mind delivering as much raucus innuendo as any squealing fangirl could possible desire. They aren’t very shy. They flirt and joke and insinuate and generally egg each other on. It’s grand to watch.
My explanation for this somewhat odd, delirious attention is that the media prohibition against depicting gayness fell like the Berlin Wall and now everyone is giddily walking streets that were formerly off limits.
I know I’ve mentioned this before (but don't think that will stop me from saying it again - you might as well have another cup of coffee), but it still floors me that shows like this exist. In my childhood – 30 plus years ago – two men kissing on screen was more unlikely than the end of the Cold War. And then, suddenly, it seemed that film after film was romping around in forbidden territory– Brideshead Revisited, Another Country, Parting Glances, Maurice, My Beautiful Laundrette. At my college students flipped their orientations like coins, and pretty much without embarrassment, brandishing pink triangles and rainbow banners. I have witnessed, in my lifetime, an amazing transformation. Would any actor from my childhood have been as unabashedly open about his sexuality as John Barrowman? Would a straight actor like Gareth David Lloyd have been so blithely unconcerned about his reputation or so completely comfortable with his role? I know it’s an incomplete transformation. People are still victimized because of sexual orientation. There’s still enormous resistance (which I cannot and never will understand) to gay marriage. Some are utterly disgusted (which I also cannot fathom). Others think it's unbiblical (oh give me a break and stop picking out the same damn verses from Leviticus and Paul's letters). But, I can’t help but survey the scene and say, “Wow.”
I’m making it sound as if Torchwood is devoted solely to the sexual shenanigans of its characters, which it isn’t. It’s just the part that most interests me! I never claimed to be deep, or particularly refined. I mean, look again at that photo. Strawberries and whipped cream, and maybe not chardonnay but champagne. So, the storylines may be a bit lame at times, and the special effects not always effective. John Barrowman may let his theatrical background leak through a bit too much and hog the attention. But, you know what, I’m happy to be walking around Berlin.