The Wrap has an interview with 17 year old Cameron Monaghanwho plays a gay teenager on the new Showtime series "Shameless." The hour-long Sunday night drama, produced by John Wells, takes a gritty look at a near-poverty working class family, with wonderful actor William Macy playing the alcoholic father.
Monaghan told The Wrap:
There are a lot of gay teens out there watching for gay characters and looking for role models and people they can relate to, so I definitely think there's a responsibility there....I'm happy to represent the gay community, especially with such a strong, likable, relatable character like Ian, who really is the anti-stereotype. He goes against the [common perception] of a gay teenager in just about every way, in that he's tough and strong, not flamboyant, and he's involved in the military with ROTC training. It's definitely cool playing a part like that.
In the interview, Monaghan talks about his character's difficulty coming out to his family and especially his older brother Lip, played by Jeremy Allen White. But in discussing the "It Gets Better" campaign that offers encouragement to LGBT teens at risk for suicide, Monaghan suggests that his character considers his sexual orientation a "choice":
Ian is one of those tough, strong guys who will tell u [sic], 'accept yourself and don't take crap from anybody.' There's a scene with his brother where Ian very passionately tells him, 'This is my choice. The guy I'm with isn't putting pressure on me. In fact, it's quite the opposite. I'm buying just as much stuff for him and this is my choice and who I am and you have to accept that.
On the other hand, his "choice" could mean the person with whom he is having an affair - his Muslim boss who is married to a white fundamentalist type - the couple has two children. See the trailer (below) for the confrontation between the two brothers over the relationship.
Interestingly, Monaghan seems both smart and savvy, while at the same time using some of the very language he apparently doesn't realize is associated with the stereotypes he shuns - specifically the use of the term "homosexuals" instead of "gays" or the acronym LGBT:
All the campaigns for acceptance of gays are continuing this paradigm shift in how we think, but there's certainly still a stigma. Hollywood is one of the most accepting places of homosexuals and yet, it's still tough for a lot of people to come out. They don't want to be stereotyped and they don't want to be treated differently or viewed in a different light.
I missed the pilot Sunday night at 10:00pm, but if The Wrap's review is any measure, this show will soon become a "must-see," probably propelling Monaghan to stardom and greater social responsibility.
The reviewer writes:
The show more than lived up to its title, as "Shameless" is one of the craziest shows I've ever seen. Imagine a raunchier "Arrested Development" as written by Charles Bukowski....
Aside from its raw energy, the most promising aspect of the series has to be the complicated relationship between brothers Lip and Ian. Monaghan delivers one of the most realistic depictions of a gay teen ever seen on television. He's a fully-realized character with plenty of dimensions that help us understand what he's going through. Meanwhile, White delivers my favorite performance in the pilot as he struggles to come to terms with his brother's sexuality.