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Alan Cumming Is Making History With Gay Leading Role On Network TV

This March, out bisexual actor Alan Cumming will play a groundbreaking role in CBS’s Instinct. As Dr. Dylan Reinhart, a previous CIA operative-turned-author/college professor recruited by the NYPD to help capture a serial killer, Cumming will portray the first openly gay male lead in an American network drama.

Cumming is no stranger to loud and proud queer roles, having played the flamboyant Emcee in a Broadway production of Cabaret, queer party promoterBillie Blaikie on The L Word,and, most recently,portraying Billie Jean King’s costumer in 2017’s Battle of the Sexes.

For Cumming, this character may be a drop in the bucket, but for CBS, it’s monumental. GLAAD’s 2017-2018 annual report on LGBTQ inclusion showed that CBS had the least amount of LGBTQ regular characters out of all the broadcast networks (just 4.2 percent of their regulars) this season. CBS also trailed with the least amount of gender diversity and representation of people of color.

So, as far as groundbreaking television goes, the network hasn’t had an impressive track record. And while I wouldn’t necessarily call the portrayal of a gay, white male protagonist “brave,” it’s undeniably a marginal step in the right direction.

Cumming himself has been an outspoken luminary for LGBTQ people, specifically bisexual men.

“I think it’s the perfect time and it needs to be done,” the actor insisted at Instinct’s TCA panel last week. Cumming emphasized the importance of a role like this in the era of Trump, noting, “The President is actively condoning, by his silence, violence and persecution against the LGBT community.”

Instinct, which will mark Cumming’s return to CBS following his long run on The Good Wife, is based off of James Patterson’s 2017 book Murder Games. According to the trailer, the show is set to add an acerbic and witty tone to the network procedural format, as well as biting banter between Cumming and his co-star Bojana Novakovic, who plays the tough NYPD detective that recruited him. Plus, Whoopi Goldberg plays his book agent, and from the looks of it, Cumming and Goldberg already have amazing on-screen chemistry.

The character’s sexuality was only part of the reason Cumming wanted to take on the role. He asserted that the role was simultaneously groundbreaking and “a terrible thing at the same time,” being that it’s 2018we should be past this.

Cumming said he loves the multidimensional depth of this character, and the notion that the show isn’t centered around Reinhart’s sexuality. “[Being gay is] the fourth or fifth most interesting thing about his character.”

Instinct premieres March 11 on CBS.

Images via CBS

Tags: TV
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