Gay parents the 'new normal' on TV screen

Gay parents the 'new normal' on TV screen
Members of the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual and Transgender) community take part in a Gay Parade in Ahmedabad on December 1, 2013.

PARIS - Married with two kids? How boringly 20th-century. Blended families and same-sex parents are increasingly vying for space with the nuclear family on the small screen in line with shifts in Western society.

Talia is about to give birth. At her side not one but two anxious dads, who trade a loving kiss. Welcome to "Mom and Dads," an Israeli series involving a menage-a-trois between two gay men and the mother of their child.

"Television is much better than cinema at picking up on changes in society, at responding to them in a fast and varied way," said the French film critic Xavier Leherpeur.

"That is especially true when it comes to gay marriage and gay rights."

Worldwide some 20 countries now allow gay marriage in all or part of their territory, including 16 out of the 50 US states.

"Clearly, Americans are the ones who tackle the subject the most," said Leherpeur.

The cult sitcom "Friends" drew mild controversy back in 1996 for an episode dubbed "The One with the Lesbian Wedding", while the sitcom "Ellen" broke ground in 1997 with the coming out of its lead character -- and that of series star Ellen DeGeneres.

Since then screenwriters have pushed the boundaries right back.

Shot as a mockumentary, "Modern Family" has notched up the Obama family among its fans since hitting screens in 2009. The comedy revolves around three interrelated family units: one heterosexual, one gay with an adopted Vietnamese daughter, and a third involving a sixty-something man and his younger, voluptuous Colombian wife.

"One big (straight, gay, multi-cultural, traditional) happy family," runs the strapline for the show.

"It's a very open-minded series, which offers a chance to highlight lots of different types of family without pointing the finger at anyone," said Aurelie Blot, of Bordeaux university in France who has studied families on the American screen at length.

"The New Normal", which wrapped up its first and so far only season in the United States in April, follows a wealthy Californian gay couple who have a child through a surrogate mother.

"Sean Saves the World", on screens since October, is about a gay father and his teenaged daughter, while "The Fosters", produced by Jennifer Lopez, features a lesbian couple and their three kids.

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