American Horror Story creator Ryan Murphy has laid a fiery path in his wake as he has all but taken over Hollywood and TV production. His long list of hits includes American Horror Story, American Crime Story, Glee, Nip/Tuck, Scream Queens, and the most recent addition, Feud.
But life was not always easy for Ryan Murphy and Hollywood did not always give him the benefit of the doubt, especially when he wanted to include major LGBT characters in his shows that would eventually lead to major ratings for the modern Hollywood TV king.
— Justin McLachlan (@justinmclachlan) March 5, 2017
In an interview on the podcast I Think You’re Interesting, Ryan Murphy disclosed his immense ordeal going through Hollywood burning a path for LGBT characters to take up major roles in his shows, especially in American Horror Story.
“I didn’t dare even start off writing gay characters, but I had sort of outlandish characters in there and I would get notes literally from executives saying, ‘Can this character dress less gay?’ Even if it was like a straight woman,” Ryan Murphy said. “Or, ‘The language coming out of this character’s mouth seems very flamboyant, which we think is too gay and will offend some of our viewers. Can you take that out?’ And then two things happened. It just sort of made me mad, so I just sort of leaned into it and, you know, I wrote a bisexual character. I started to write about lesbianism and a lesbian character, rather. I had gay characters.”
Having lesbian and gay characters has never been a topic that has been too taboo for Ryan Murphy to stay away from. In American Horror Story, every season of the show has featured at least one gay character, if not many. In all of those American Horror Story seasons, those characters also played major roles in the series, not just secondary roles the way other TV shows have featured such characters in the past.
Once Ryan Murphy was able to break the cycle, which includes characters that were gay before American Horror Story in shows like Nip/Tuck, the sky has been the limit and the tide of public opinion has largely been in favor of LGBT characters. But even heavyweight TV producers like Ryan Murphy had to sit through a painful era of waiting for network executives to get on board with this new trend.
“It was really painful and it was really difficult,” Ryan Murphy said. “I don’t really talk about it too much because it really is painful and a lot of these people still have jobs. But it was really rough because I was a gay kid and I was both popular and persecuted, so I always sort of understood both angles.”
Other producers, screenwriters, and directors have also helped in the struggle to break the mold and bring gay characters into major roles for televisions shows. Alan Ball is one example of that, given the shows he has created for HBO and his Oscar-winning screenplay for American Beauty. For those who do not know, Alan Ball is the TV producer who brought you instant hit shows Six Feet Under and True Blood on HBO. As most may remember, gay characters played major roles in both of those shows and some of the characters even made the straight to gay transition in the shows during their tenure.
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As Ryan Murphy recalls from his younger days in television producing, he spoke about how network executives would sometimes allow him to have gay characters if he had a tragic storyline in mind for them.
“I would say, ‘No. I won’t do it. Why do you want it taken out?’ They were interested — this was at The WB — they were interested very much in gay people who were tragic,” Ryan Murphy said. “They were interested if you were gay and you would kill yourself. Or if you would try and commit suicide. They weren’t interested in gay sensibility or the language of being gay, which is sometimes not just gay characters.”
[Featured Image by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for SiriusXM]