Love, Sidney (TV Series 1981–1983) Poster


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NOT the first gay character in a series!
Thomas E. Reed17 January 2002
That honor belongs to Jodie Dallas, played by Billy Crystal, on Susan Harris's sitcom "Soap." Tony Randall's Sidney Shorr was a simple follow-up, based on a sentimental TV-movie called "Sidney Shorr: A Girl's Best Friend." The person who posted such a hateful message about the show seems to forget that Randall wasn't a young gay man dancing disco every night. He was a mature man, not romantically involved, and not involved with the bar scene. There are all types of gays, just like there are all kinds of straights, and Randall shouldn't be condemned for not living up to someone's cliched stereotype. Admittedly, the show wasn't stellar, and Randall wasn't doing his best work. But undoubtedly it helped change the perceptions about homosexuality among some older people.
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Quietly Groundbreaking
OutOfTheAshes18 May 2004
One of the earlier comments about this film is a rant about how it marred the life of a young gay. It wasn't intended to. In the day in which this show was made, you couldn't be as open about being queer as you can now and the producers were always trying to find a way to place Sidney's humanity ahead of his sexuality so that viewer's would see him first as a person and second as a gay person.

His loneliness was not the result of his being gay, it was the result of his not having made lasting relationships. Remember, Sidney wasn't all gay men, he was just A gay man. He was living outside of the stereotype the way we all do.

It wasn't a great show, but it surely was a well-intentioned one and it was very well acted by the two leads.

It's hard to appreciate now, but Tony Randall was taking a huge chance when he took this role. Playing gay used to cost actors work in other projects and if you look closely at Randall's resume, you will see that his career did take a few hits from having taken on this role.

Kudos to Randall and Swurtz and the producers and writers who were trying to tell a story about some humans and the ways that humans create connections and family. Big kudos to all of them for having the guts to make one of those characters a gay man.
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relax, dude
p_gozinya7 January 2005
A friend of mine recently said that he was traumatized by The Brady Bunch. He said that his family was so unlike the always-happy, flawless Bradys that, by comparison, be felt he was living with a bunch of monsters. My reaction: "Dude, you took 'The Brady Bunch' seriously?" Likewise, the guy who wrote saying that Love Sidney caused his 13-year-old homosexual mind to grow shameful and make him feel he would always be friendless and sad...I have to ask: What are you, kidding? It was a portrayal of ONE CHARACTER. As for me, I'm glad the Sidney producers had the fortitude to create a show around a leading gay character way back in 1981. As a heterosexual kid growing up at that time, the show was my first introduction to the notion of homosexuality. It raised a lot of questions, and wound up being a springboard to meaningful discussions I had with my parents -- a chance to learn what it was, and form a non-judgmental concept on the subject in my formative brain.
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the "First" of it's kind...
DK Bengel18 May 2004
OK, let's clear the air. No, this was NOT the first openly-gay character on television. But this WAS the first openly-gay LEAD character on television.

Billy Crystal was a supporting actor on 'Soap' and so was not a Lead. And while the writing was not all that great and the concept was paper-thin, this show did break new and important ground on television. Shows like 'Will & Grace' and 'Queer Eye for the Straight Guy' owe a lot to this program. Was the show any good? Yeah, it was decent. Was it important? Yes, unbelievably so. As Tony Randall passes away from our sight on this day, we should remember that we all owe him a debt of thanks.

Thanks, Tony; We will miss you.
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A show that was as good as it could be, for its time
Sebastian (sts-26)10 February 2009
This series popped into my head this evening, and I checked out IMDb. I have read the other comments, and would like to add my two-cents worth.

One fact that I have not seen mentioned is this: Sidney is miserable and friendless because he is bitter over the loss of his lover, which he seems incapable of getting over. If I remember correctly, his boyfriend had died, and - with the great reluctance to explore that relationship on the show - it is easy to assume in retrospect that the boyfriend was a victim of one of the big issues - gay bashing? AIDS? ...Anyway....

The whole message of the show, as sugary sweet as it was, is that everyone needs someone to share his life with, and, while the ideal is to have a lover (whatever your sexual persuasion), good platonic friends can be a pretty good substitute. Families are made, not born.

The great achievement of the show was that it shattered stereotypes - that was the whole point of Sidney being neither a disco-dwelling, toy-boy hunting sugar daddy, nor a camp, shrieking queen. The show also captured an ennui that was soon to swamp the gay community, and those who saw it as a pop-culture touchstone, as AIDS took a greater and greater toll.

Love, Sidney was soulful and complex, and is owed much by all involved with, and fans of, such shows as Will and Grace.
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"Gay" television pioneers
jf_moran4912 September 2013
Actually, the first television series (in 1975) with two, recurring homosexual male characters ("George" & "Gordon") was the Norman Lear-produced "Hot L Baltimore." The gay men resided at the titled locale. This series was based on an off-Broadway play by Lanford Wilson which starred Conchata Ferrell (best known as "Berta" on the CBS-TV sitcom "Two & A Half Men") as the scene-stealing prostitute "April." Norman Lear caught Ferrell in the play and then came up with a TV version of the production, in which Ferrell re-created her off-Broadway role.

"Hot L Baltimore" also starred James Cromwell, who was better known as "Jerome 'Stretch' Cunningham," best workplace (the loading dock, before "Archie" bought "Kelsey's Bar") friend of "Archie Bunker" on the sitcom "All in the Family," and best known as that guy in the "Babe" pig movies.

Coincidentally (or not), Ferrell would also play "Rita Valdez" in the episode of Lear's "Maude" that said goodbye to housekeeper "Florida Evans," when the character and its star (Esther Rolle) were spun-off into "Good Times." Ferrell's "Valdez" was a funny and flippant Spanish-speaking job applicant for the position in which "Maude" ultimately chose the feisty, booze-swilling "Mrs. Nell Naugatuck" (played by the terrific Hermione Baddeley).

And the first TV series to feature a "gay" male as a regular, starring character was, indeed, NBC-TV's "Love, Sidney," which starred Tony Randall and Swoosie Kurtz. The pilot of the series was the film "Sidney Shorr: A Girl's Best Friend," which clearly mentioned the sexual orientation of the title character, while in the series that fact was assumed but never mentioned.

Kurtz didn't portray "Laurie Morgan" in the pilot film. That role in the film was played by Lorna Patterson, whose best-known role was as the title character (originated in the film by Goldie Hawn) in the TV version of "Private Benjamin." And the spelling of the surname of the lead character in "Love, Sidney" was changed from "Shorr" to "Shore," perhaps to further create a differentiation between film pilot and series, thus providing a claim to advertisers the two were different characters.

But, come on, we all know Paul Lynde was having himself a fabulous time, whether sitting in the center square trading barbs with Peter Marshall on "The Hollywood Squares," or playing "Uncle Arthur" in the long-running ABC-TV sitcom "Bewitched." As "Uncle Arthur" really was a semi-recurring character, I suppose he may be considered TV's first continuing gay male character. Does it always have to be stated to be so? Aren't some characters' natures implicit? And if one raises the issue of subtext, "Bewitched" and homosexuality were inextricably linked; the witch keeping her supernatural powers a secret from all but one mortal (the Down-Low or gay-friendly "Darrin"), symbolic of many homosexuals (then) remaining in the closet with most heterosexuals.

So, Norman Lear ("Hot L Baltimore"), Witt-Thomas-Harris ("SOAP"), and George Eckstein ("Love, Sidney,"), you may all defer to Sol Saks and William Asher (and Elizabeth Montgomery), as "Bewitched," thanks to "Uncle Arthur," may be considered the first TV series with a regular gay character.

This is also not forgetting Dick Sargent (the second "Darrin Stephens"), Maurice Evans (who played the dad of "Samantha Stephens," and was also a renowned Shakespearean stage actor--a lot of 'em are "light-in-the-loafers," must be those tights), and Lynde, were all homosexual males in real life, and the possibility Agnes Moorhead ("Endora," the mother of "Samantha") was a closeted lesbian (she was coy when specifically asked her orientation). But even in her role on "Bewitched," you just know "Endora" had to be a great fag hag.

The first made-for-TV film with gay characters, at least that I recall watching, was "That Certain Summer," which starred Hal Holbrook and Martin Sheen as the gay couple, Scott Jacoby as the Holbrook character's son, and Hope Lang as Holbrook's character's estranged wife. This film debuted on November 1. 1972 as an "ABC Movie of the Week." Do you remember when the broadcast television networks aired originally-produced films on a regular basis?

In conclusion, "official" first television series with regular "gay" characters--"Hot L Baltimore" (debuted January 24, 1975); figurative first TV series with a regular "gay" character--"Bewitched" (1964), with Paul Lynde making his debut as "Uncle Arthur" in the October 14, 1965 episode "The Joker Is a Card." As country-western singer Collin Raye once sang, and stand-up comic Colin Quinn used to say, on the "Weekend Update" segment of "Saturday Night Live": "That's my story, and I'm sticking to it."
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No wonder I stayed in the closet until 1995...
Buzz Vinard29 November 2001
This was one of the first attempts at a gay leading character in a prime-time television series. Tony Randal played Sidney, a middle-aged gay man with some sort of relationship with a straight woman. The woman had a small daughter, or something.

The image that has lasted in my mind for years was of Sidney having a party and inviting his mother's friends. You see, he was gay and therefore had no friends of his own. Right.

It was the last days of disco, this guy was gay, and couldn't scare up enough friends for a party? Right.

It was really sad that the series implied that gay people are to be pitied because we have no friends and that a meaningful relationship, platonic as it may be, is only possible with a straight person.

I know a lot of gay people who hated "The Living End", which featured fatalist gay people shooting up stuff with guns. "Too violent," they say. I say that I prefer the "Living End" image over "Love Sidney". Maybe if Sidney would have had a gun and shot up a few gay bashers it would have been more interesting.

And in all seriousness, this stupid TV show left indelible images on a gay 13 year-old's mind that stuck for years, leaving him afraid and ashamed. That 13 year-old was me. Though I'm now out and happy, I think the show's creative team should issue a public apology for this crap.
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A Very Weird Show
Brian Washington5 March 2007
The fact that this show the first to feature a gay character as the lead character has been beaten to death that I won't mention it again. Instead, this show was very unusual. It was one of those where the writers didn't know if it was going to be a cute little family drama with a very unusual family group or if it wanted to be a situation comedy. Tony Randall was pretty good in this show, especially since he played a similar character for many years on the Odd Couple. Swoosie Kurtz also did a good job in her role as Laurie. I loved the fact that she was constantly trying to convince people that she was nothing like the nymphomaniac that she played on television and that she was just an ordinary mother trying to raise her daughter. However, as I said earlier, the thing that hurt this show was the fact that the producers never could decide whether it was going to be a situation comedy or a drama. That definitely hurt it in the end.
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Joseph Brando31 July 2014
I remember watching this show when I was a kid. Me and my sister would make fun of it the whole way through. From the corny opening song to the cheesy stories to Swoozie Kurt's awful hair and outfits. It was just really lame and pathetic. Truly one of the worst theme songs from a television show ever! I never "got" that Tony Randall's character was supposed to be gay, so I guess that part was REALLY toned down. All the stories were disgustingly sickeningly sugary sweet and idiotic. Regardless, I still "blame" this show for being the inspiration for "Punky Brewster" which had a very similar premise, but with a sassier child and a crankier stepdad. Although both were probably the result of "Diff'rent Strokes" which was a runaway adopted child hit. It beats those other two shows by a longshot.
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