What Happened To TV’s Gay Best Friends?

Talking about the depiction of gay characters, specifically gay men, in Hollywood almost always leads to the gay best friend—or GBF for short. The cliché gay best friend can be described as an accessory to straight women characters, as replaceable as a purse or a pair of shoes. The Woman in Red (1984) is looked at as the first example of the gay best friend, but the mid-to-late ‘90s cemented this character trope. Through staples in the cultural canon like Clueless and Sex and the City, gay best friends were some of the earliest on-screen representations of LGBTQ+ people.

The widespread acceptance of gay characters coincides with the popularity of teen coming-of-age dramas, in which gay best friends were historically used as nothing more than a sounding board for other people’s problems, or dropping snarky comments as comic relief. The television landscape has completely changed, and with that comes changes in how characters are depicted. Gen Z, the most sexually fluid generation yet...

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