While Neighbours has garnered a good deal of attention for having its first resident gay male teenager, Dance Academy recently dealt with the same subject in an even earlier timeslot of 5:20pm.
In a recent episode, Sammy (Tom Green) admitted to having a crush on his roommate Christian (Jordan Rodrigues). The G-rated ABC teen drama sensitively handled the topic without being subjected to any of the media hysteria that followed Home and Away‘s same sex kiss last year.
In the first season of the show there were two guest characters who were openly gay. One was an AFL footballer who was sent to the Academy for some specialised training. The other was a semi-regular boy at the Academy.
Producer, Joanna Werner told TV Tonight, “The character of sixteen-year-old Sammy (Samuel) Lieberman was one of the leads in the series. Towards the end of the season we explored the story of him developing feelings for his roommate and best mate, Christian. We decided to treat this storyline not as a ‘gay’ story but about what happens when you fall in love with your best friend – how difficult these feelings are to admit and how they might affect your relationship.
“In one of the episodes Sammy kisses his ex-girlfriend Abigail and imagines he’s kissing Christian instead. Even in terms of retaining our G Classification we treated a same sex kiss no differently than we treated a ‘straight’ kiss. We have been really delighted with the response to these storylines from our audience, with fans debating who Sammy would have a better relationship with as opposed to focusing solely on whether or not he is gay.
“We plan to further explore this storyline in Series 2 bringing in more questions of sexuality. We want to avoid dealing with it as an ‘Issue’ but instead drive it from character. Sammy is a boy who questions everything and it feels natural that his sexuality is not set in stone, that he might fall in love with a person regardless of their gender.”
The episodes in which Sammy admits to his feelings for Christian are currently being replayed on ABC3.
In Episode 24 (4:05pm Sunday Aug 22 ABC3), Sammy admits he is attracted to Christian and talks about his feelings with a female classmate. In Episode 25 (3:40pm Sunday Aug 29 ABC3) the ‘kiss’ scene takes place and Sammy tells Christian how he feels.
“Whilst Dance Academy is set in the dance world where homosexuality is part of the culture, we see the story more about being truthful to our characters than any requirement to have a ‘gay character’ just because that is our setting,” says Werner.