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Film and TV

The Prom star Andrew Rannells has an ingenious test for his gay characters

Josh Milton December 11, 2020
Andrew Rannells: The Prom star has a simple test for his gay characters

Andrew Rannells. (Amy Sussman/Getty Images)

The Prom star Andrew Rannells has revealed he has an ingenious test to whether he, as a gay actor, takes up queer roles in film and television.

Chatting to MSN, the actor unveiled his rejigged version of the Bechdal test, named after Alison Bechdel, is a way to measure the authenticity of female representation in media.

“So if there’s a female character in a film or television show, what is her storyline?”, he explained, “Does she actually have her own point of view and her own voice?

“Or does every scene relate back to the male lead? I apply that a lot to gay characters as I read scripts, because I think it’s a good way to figure out: is this just supposed to be like a punchline?

“Or is he a human? Does he have a life? You can only do so much as an actor sometimes to flesh things out, and it really has to be in the writing.

“I feel like Invincible does a really great job of doing both, of making sure that character has a solid arc on his own, and he doesn’t necessarily just relate back to the lead character.”

Straight actors getting their ‘gayface’ on remains all too common in Hollywood

The turbulent, decades-long trajectory of queer representation on the small screen has gone from flat one-episode secondary players to fully-fleshed characters central to storylines.

Indeed, the amount of queer characters on our screens has consistently hit new heights each year, according to annual reports by GLAAD.

James Corden The Prom
Jams Corden, Nicole Kidman, Andrew Rannells and Meryl Streep in The Prom (MELINDA SUE GORDON/NETFLIX © 2020)

But Hollywood has remained hobbled by how it, year after year, casts straight, cisgender people in LGBT+ roles, with the sluggishness of the film industry to change that routinely fuelling disappointment among queer moviegoers and film critics.

Seemingly typifying the anger against film-makers giving straight actors queer roles was the move to cast James Corden, a professional straight man, to play Barry Glickman, an ailing gay Broadway star in Ryan Murphy’s The Prom.

Murphy’s casting choices have long been ribbed by viewers for being white, tall, often square-jawed men, but critics had little patience for Corden’s performance, branding it “gross and offensive“.

Andrew Rannells’ co-star drew the frustrated ire of critics for his overblown, camp portrayal of a gay man, with Erik Anderson, founder of AwardsWatch, dubbing it “gayface”.

More: Andrew Rannells, Film, Gay, James Corden, Straight, the prom, TV

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