This Crime Drama Will Make TV History By Having A Gay Lead

Photo: Jeff Neira/CBS.
Pictured: Alan Cumming in Instinct.

Will Truman. Ellen Morgan. Jodie Dallas. Cyrus Beene. Omar Little. Steven Carrington. You may be able to rattle off dozens of memorable LGBTQ characters that have popped up on your TV screens in the last 40 years, but, shockingly, not one of them was a lead character in a 60-minute drama airing on network TV.

All the more reason to remember the name Dr. Dylan Reinhart. As TV Guide reports, the fictional criminal behavior professor has the distinction of being the first gay lead on an hourlong broadcast series.

Alan Cumming (The Good Wife, Circle of Friends) will play the openly gay, happily married academic on Instinct, a new crime procedural airing on CBS beginning March 11.

The Scottish actor noted that, while his history-making role is bittersweet given that it's taken this long, this representation is hugely important.

"It's the first ever [network] drama on American television to have a gay character as a lead, which I think is an incredible thing but also a terrible thing at the same time," Cumming, who is openly gay in real life, admitted during the Television Critics Association winter press tour Saturday.

"It's another layer to the character that makes it interesting to play, but socially and politically, especially in the timing we find ourselves in America, where gay people are being persecuted again, their rights are being removed, and the president is actively condoning by his silence the violence and persecution of those in the LGBTQ community, I think it's all the more important that we should have a character with a healthy, successful same-sex marriage on network. I applaud everyone on CBS for having the courage to put that on right now in a climate where that may not be the best time to do that. But I think it's the perfect time to do that."

Just months ago, CBS cited Cumming's role as evidence of its commitment to diversity following criticism that its 2017-18 TV lineup featured just one non-white lead (S.W.A.T. star Shemar Moore).

"We are absolutely moving in the right direction," CBS Entertainment president Kelly Kahl said in defense of the network's representation, which critics like Jessica Chastain found lacking.

Though creator Michael Rauch described Instinct as a "little show," we expect it to make a big impact on LGBTQ representation going forward — with other marginalized voices soon to follow.

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