Don't get me wrong. I love Heroes.
I just have one big problem with it: It doesn't have any gay characters. At least, not any visibly "out" ones.
Heroes, which resumed its first season last week, is based on a group of Joes and Joans who wake up to discover they can add on "super" to "human" when describing themselves. However, rather than relish their power, they treat it like a curse—or, even worse, a cancer—they need to get rid of, if they only knew how.
Which is weird. We've had our share of superheroes—Batman, Wonder Woman, Superman—who see their specialness as a blessing, and delight (albeit unsuspectingly) in same-sex appeal. The way gay director Bryan Singer brought X-Men to the screen had me believing superhero powers is a metaphor for being cool and queer. And on the small screen, comedies like Ugly Betty say it's OK for normal kids to be "different." Last fall, even Heroes was in on the act. Not with a hero, but with Zach, the best friend of Claire—the cheerleader. He swished with the best of them, until his memory was erased by a bad guy.
And it's the cleansing of characters that pisses me off.
I don't know if Heroes creator Tim Kring is doing this on purpose, but by casting aside the quirky comic-book chestnuts we're most familiar with—big bulges, camp, cluelessness and most of all, hope—he's taken the fun out of what could be a really fun (and yes, queer) show. I know that's not the point. Kring is reflecting a post-9/11 world in which we've had a sneak peek at an apocalyptic future where survival is the least of our worries. However, after all the shit that's hit our collective fan, don't you think he could cut us a break and give us a hero that's just a little bit gay?
It's not like Heroes doesn't have a wealth of worthy queer candidates. There's Claire's badass dad, Mr. Bennet, played by Jack Coleman, who used to play the gay son on Dynasty. Or the brain-eating Sylar, played by Zachary Quinto, who used to play Tori Spelling's BGF (best gay friend) on So NoTORIous. We've even got the openly bisexual actress Clea DuVall, who plays FBI agent Audrey Hanson. For my money, I'd love to see Hiro (Masi Oka) come out as a queer hero. He's the only character who believes his power—he time-travels—has positive effects. Perhaps an out-and-proud Hiro could pair up with the power mimic, Peter Petrelli (Milo Ventimiglia), to form an "Unambiguously Gay Duo."
Truth is, it's been years since queer folks have had anything even remotely close to a gay superhero in real life (Harvey Milk aside). I know this asks a lot from Kring, but if he wants my undying loyalty to his show, it's time someone came out of the closet. That would make him my hero.
Heroes, 9 pm Mondays on KGW-TV, channel 8.