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GAYS ON PRIME TIME From Will and Grace to ER gay themes and characters change the TV landscape In a recent episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer on the WB two of Buffys pals share a meaningful kiss at an emotional moment Some viewers may not have thought twice about it But this nonpublicized kiss between two women is one sign that things have changed in the four years since the protests over the coming out of Ellen on ABC Turn on prime-time TV today and youre likely to surf across about a dozen shows that feature significant gay characters - from Spin City to ER Or perhaps youll land on one of the three programs that center on the lives of homosexuals two of which have debuted in the last six months CBSs sitcom Some of My Best Friends and Showtimes sexually explicit Queer as Folk That number could grow next season when at least two more sitcoms with gay lead characters will likely hit the air including a new one starring Ellen DeGeneres who also starred in Ellen Programs about gay life dont outnumber those about policemen and lawyers just yet But their growth is prompting more discussion about what direction the genre will take and how it is affecting the way sexuality is talked about at Americas hearth Many in Hollywood attribute the change on TV to the groundwork laid by Ellen and the recent success of NBCs gay-manstraight-woman sitcom Will Grace - which has won a shelffull of Emmys and and is a regular in the Top 20 ratings Will Grace has had a profound effect on the landscape of gay characters on television says Jeffery Richman a former Frasier writer who has created a sitcom with a gay lead called Say Uncle in development for CBS You need to tell some new stories
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