A kiss is just a kiss, even in teen TV.

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.

28 Comments:

  1. James: popular/mainstream Australian soaps ‘Number 96’ (1972-1977), ‘The Box’ (1974-1977), ‘Prisoner’ (1979-1986) all had gay and lesbian regular characters and same sex couples. Australian TV showed a gay male kiss, on ‘Chequerboard’, in 1972. When did the UK start, James?

    • Think you better go back and read News Limited newspapers DB. It was all through their headlines before the episode ever went to air.

      It would be remiss of me not to follow a story of that size. My philosophy on these things is actually to wait for the audience to react first (as I also did with John Safran outrage). Once it became a story I certainly weighed into the debate, so no apologies there. TV Tonight started in the gay media 8 years ago, why on earth would I overlook a major developing TV story?

  2. Well done to the ABC. Great production and mature realistic storylines. I’ve seen a few eps and rate this show highly.

    Glad to see storylines that reflect real teenage angst!

  3. As a mum I welcomed this story line – my 11 year old asked questions that needed to be asked! It was done with sensitivity and realism and not in a way aimed at restoring flagging ratings!

  4. Werner and the people involved in Dance Academy need to get involved in Neighbours/H&A – much more realistic interpretations of the lives of teenagers and young people, and far better acting.

  5. I read the story. There are two characters, Sammy and Christian, they are attracted to each other and kiss, and so have homosexual feelings towards each other. ‘Cause, while this story states that Sammy has feelings for Christian, the kiss would not occur if the feelings were not at least a little bit in some way reciprocal.

    • “Towards the end of the season we explored the story of him developing feelings for his roommate and best mate, Christian.”

      “In one of the episodes Sammy kisses his ex-girlfriend Abigail and imagines he’s kissing Christian instead.”

      “The episodes in which Sammy admits to his feelings for Christian are currently being replayed on ABC3.”

      It’s all about Sammy’s feelings. Not Christian’s.

  6. Total props to Dance Academy for handling the storyline with a dab hand and seamlessly weaving into the other facets of the program, Ahh, I shall now dream of a future episode which features a wedding of two consenting adult gay Australians.

  7. Thank goodness that Family First (and similar groups) didn’t find out about it before the episode aired. Would have been a different story otherwise.

  8. A very sweet picture. Havn’t seen this but am a fan of Adam Rodrigues from his work in H&A. Is the other guy also ex H&A?

    I think the Christian @newtaste has mentioned is from Eastenders.

  9. Of course this is nothing new.I think Degrassi handled similar issues back in the late eighties but the difference there is that is a Kids version of Home and Away or Neighbours and again not shown around dinner time.

  10. Gay threads always bring out overt and subterraneous prejudices.
    I reckon the gay friendly and gay/lesbian/bi/trans outweigh the others on this site.
    I for one, applaud the thread, the subject matter and its inclusion in a nationally broadcast series for teens. If only its occurrence did not require special mention – i.e it were more commonplace in the artistic landscape. Anyway, moving forwards!

  11. Secret Squïrrel

    Good stuff. I wonder whether the fact that it’s on the ABC (or that its ratings are much lower than H&A or Neighbours) allowed it to “slip under the radar”; ie not have it cross-promoted in the station’s “news” or bagged in channel nine’s “news”.

  12. Well look at that. It shouldn’t be an issue, and shouldn’t be treated any differently to any other kiss. And they’ve just proved that. Well done to ABC and Dance Academy. And even better it’s a kids show.

  13. If only adult drama treated such subjects so intelligently.For too long it is always the long suffering,can never be happy,it’s not normal gay cliche such as the Eastenders storylines at present.Not all gay persons are unhappy,get bashed,are disfunctional,do not know what they want out of life.And how refreshing that it is a story about finding one’s self which is what we all do.Preference is neither here nor there.Will have to watch to see how it goes.

  14. well who would have thought? A series about dancers, of course there will be gay characters, it will be more unrealistic if the male dancer characters were straight.

  15. Surprised this slipped under the radar.

    I have no objection to it, but you would have thought ACMA would have been screamed at by 10,000 conservatives by now

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