Queer Coding in ReGenesis
by Kristina Busse — Independent Scholar
June 05, 2007 – 03:05
All too often in mainstream media queer visibility is achieved via typecasting: characters tend to either be characterized by their queerness, which then takes center stage and monopolizes who they can be on screen entirely, or they’re simply reduced to their queerness as minor characters. Offering complex characters whose sexual orientations are but one element of their identity, Canadian medical research drama ReGenesis challenges expectations when coding one of the male characters as gay—only to frustrate our stereotypical response by revealing that character to be straight. Weston is secretary to a powerful woman, defined by his ability to work behind the scenes and connect and appease the politicians and the scientists he works for. Unlike most of the (hard) scientists, he’s well groomed and cute. He’s also HIV+, which viewers find out shortly after an underplayed reveal that medical scientist Carlos is gay. Several episodes later any stereotypical reading of Wes is complicated as it turns out that he contracted HIV from unprotected sex with a prostitute. Sexual identity ought to be one facet of a complexity of attributes that construct TV characters as it does us. ReGenesis successfully questions television’s habitual shorthand where queer characters are defined (or at least driven) by their sexual identity by creating complexly real characters that refuse to fall into easily assignable stereotypes.