Kathy Griffin is fond of talking about "her gays" on her snarky reality show "My Life on the D-List." But she takes her affection a step further on this week’s episode, airing Monday on Bravo.
In keeping with the theme of her show — bald-faced attempts to do anything to make herself more popular — at first, Griffin sees her activism regarding Prop 8 as something of a photo-op, a chance to really woo her queer constituency.
"Our state was progressive enough to legalize gay marriage but stupid enough to let the Mormon Church find a proposition to put it back on the ballot," she deadpans with characteristic sarcasm. But before long, the show turns into — and boy, it gags me to say this — a "very special episode."
Bruno-like, Griffin confronts perceived homophobes where they live — literally. She canvasses middle class Pasadena houses, asking the residents to explain their votes. But instead of outright mocking the resistance she encounters, Griffin makes a sincere attempt to "change the hearts and minds" (more clichÃ©s!) of California voters. (The fact it’s post-election smarts a bit, to be honest — where was this intense activism beforehand?)
There is the gimmicky celebrity visit to Tammy Lynn Michaels and Melissa Etheridge (described as "fan[s] of David Crosby’s sperm"), where Kathy calls the couple "Harriet and Harriet, with the cookies and the kids. Griffin’s protest on the steps at the California capitol prior to the state supreme court’s decision seems contrived as well.
But when she calls on a gay youth center, talking to teens about their personal experiences confronting homophobia, it’s difficult not to be moved … and pointless to try. (Kathy’s mom, usually used as an object of mockery, here serves as a wise voice of older Americans who can have their opinions shaped by experience.)
Maybe it’s a cheat for a silly humor show to aim for pathos by invoking Matthew Shepard (another Emmy bid, Kathy?). But why be cynical about it. Whether it’s on "The D-List" or Rachel Maddow, this is a message that deserves to be heard. Let’s hope enough people are listening.
Airs on Bravo, July 27 at 9 p.m. with rebroadcasts throughout the week.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 24, 2009.