As it becomes more common for teenagers to realize -- and then tell others -- that they are gay or lesbian, there is also a growing number of teen characters on TV programs geared toward teens going through the same thing. The CW's "90210," which returns on Jan. 24, joins the ranks of shows like "Glee," "Gossip Girl," "Pretty Little Liars," "Hellcats," "Greek" and the new MTV series "Skins" in showcasing young, gay roles.
"I felt like the world of '90210' was missing the gay characters that it would realistically have," said Rebecca Sinclair, the CW series' show runner and executive producer, on the writers' decision to show teen character Teddy Montgomery's coming-out process. "If I had created the show, I would definitely have made one of the main characters gay ... And honestly, in a genre that depends on the coupling, decoupling and re-coupling of its characters, it behooves us to find the most diverse ways to do that."
So it was that Teddy -- a "90210" character most fans had written off as a rich playboy whose latest infatuation was ex-girlfriend Silver -- hooked up with classmate Ian at the beginning of this season and slowly admitted the truth about himself. And Adrianna Tate-Duncan (Jessica Lowndes), another of Teddy's exes on "90210," experimented with bisexuality last season.
"Coming-out stories are standard, almost a cliche of television stories dealing with gay characters and this goes back to the '70s and the '80s," said Larry Gross of USC's Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism, who specializes in lesbians and gays in the media. "What's probably different now is that the age is becoming younger and I think this reflects the fact that the sort of battleground for gay people in society includes high school and probably even includes middle school. It's moved younger in the past decade or so, I think in part ... because younger people are becoming more aware of their identities."