At FOX’s TCA panel yesterday, entertainment President Kevin Reilly talked about the network’s attempts at portraying diversity in their programming, citing Virtuality specifically…
“I haven’t had the chance to put any of the product on the air. I can say we’ve got several shows now moving forward with gay characters in them. I think our score … I think our … the scores get affected by what’s … sometimes you’ve actually got great representation and then for commercial or creative reasons something gets canceled and your numbers go down. That’s something we’re really committed to. In fact, right now were in production on a pilot called Virtuality that Ron Moore and Michael Taylor created and Peter Berg is directing. It’s got a gay relationship that is as dimensional and honest as anything I’ve ever seen portrayed on television right now. If we move forward on that I think that is something to really note.”
From the original article…
Reilly talked about how diversity at networks used to be a department that had yearly meetings, but that Fox’s commitment was at the center and woven in the fabric at what they do. He said it was really a strange disconnect between that commitment and the results … which was basically the answer he gave us last year in our two part article on the lack of gay visibility.
As for Virtuality, the show is a creation of writers Ronald Moore (Battlestar Galactica, Star Trek) and Michael Taylor (Battlestar Galactica) and director Peter Berg (Hancock). Given the sort of “gay” content that has passed on Battlestar (basically straight guy fantasies and the lesbian character in the stand-alone movie Razor) you have to figure they really owe us.
The gay couple Reilly referred to are named Manny and Val and hate being stuck on galley duty aboard the star ship Phaeton. According to the Sci Fi website io9 which has snuck a look at some of the script, the series is about a crew embarking on a very long journey forcing them to spend a great deal of time in virtual reality where peculiar things happen.
It’s slightly discouraging that the gay characters are the cooks (Neelix, anyone?), but obviously everything depends on the execution and I’ve got high hopes. It’s certainly seems like Reilly’s best chance to follow up on words that sound great, but if not followed up one, will guarantee the network gets a failing mark again next year.