I’m Selina, Awards Circuit’s queer Girl Friday for all things LGBTQIA+ on TV! Each week, I take on television’s biggest stories through the rainbow lenses. Up for some kudos are Disney’s “Andi Mack” and Netflix’s “Mindhunter,” which stepped up for gay tweens and badass lesbian psychologists.
First up this week comes an announcement from Disney channel, revealing that key character Cyrus Goodman will come out to himself and his loved ones on the popular tween show “Andi Mack.” We don’t usually post about children’s shows on Awards Circuit, but the announcement is monumental for Disney, which hasn’t told a coming out story on their children’s channel.
Cyrus, played by Joshua Rush (“Mr. Peabody & Sherman”), will begin his journey during the show’s Season 2 premiere. Cyrus, a best friend to titular character Andi (Peyton Elizabeth Lee, “Shameless”), realizes he also has a crush on Andi’s love interest, Jonah Beck (Asher Angel). The tween confides in mutual bestie Buffy (Sofia Wylie, “So You Think You Can Dance”) in a tableau geared towards providing positive role models for young LGBTQIA+ kids. Cyrus will continue his coming out journey throughout the season, including his coming out to his girlfriend, Iris (Molly Jackson, “American Vandal”).
Disney has reportedly done their homework on the character and his story arc, consulting with child development experts and various LGBT organizations including GLAAD and PFLAG. They’ve also released a general statement on their stories and characters, expressing their commitment to “create characters that are accessible and relatable to all children.” The move is rather bold for the network, as “Andi Mack” was the top series of this year among young girls and was the most watched show for kids 6-14 during its first season. Telling positive, thoughtful stories about queer characters on one of Disney’s top shows denotes the network’s care for its young audience, of which there will be many Cyrus Goodmans.
Moving to adult drama, serial-killer series “Mindhunter” has been getting some well-deserved buzz since its premiere. The show follows FBI agents Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff, “The Normal Heart”) and Holt McCallany (Bill Tench, “Sully”) who interview violent killers to understand a murderer’s mind. They enlist the help of psychologist Dr. Wendy Carr (Anna Torv, “Fringe”), who helps decipher the inner workings of serial killers like Jerry Brudos. “Mindhunter” is based on the true crime book “Mind Hunter: Inside the FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit,” with all three researchers based on their real-life counterparts John E. Douglas, Robert Ressler and Dr. Ann Wolbert Burgess. Just like Tench in “Mindhunter,” Ressler was the one to coin the term “serial killer,” a murderer who kills three or more people with significant breaks between each killing.
The show is frankly fantastic, with well-written dialogue and a well-paced story, even featuring my alma mater’s best known serial killer, Edmund Kemper (though I’ll admit, it’s creepy for my alma mater to have its own serial killer). But the highlight for me was Dr. Carr, whose clear head and love for women amidst the deluge of sex-obsessed serial killers kept the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit on the side of morality, more or less.
Dr. Carr’s real-life counterpart was even more impressive; Dr. Burgess was a trailblazer in her time, cofounding one of the first-ever hospital-based counseling programs for rape victims at Boston City Hospital alongside sociologist Lynda Lytle Holmstrom. The pair coined the term “rape trauma syndrome,” which is still used today. Like Dr. Carr, she also faced institutional apathy when it came to her work. Her work with the unit also helped highlight some serial killers’ desire to sexually dominate their victims and their desire to hurt or kill.
However, Dr. Burgess’ not a lesbian like Dr. Carr, meaning the choice to create space for a lesbian character in the straight-laced, vaguely homophobic 1970s FBI was deliberate. Pacific Standard opined that Dr. Carr is sidelined by white, straight golden boys Ford and Tench, giving the FBI unit a white, male origin story. I disagree. Yes, Dr. Carr was often sidelined while the FBI agents ran off to interview another murderer, but her storyline was fully fleshed out, nothing the difficulties of maintaining a personal life and and standing one’s ground in a boy’s club. The psychologist also took a stand for trans people when dressing in feminine clothes was construed as deviant, though her terms were significantly outdated.
Dr. Carr is a fighter in the “Mindhunter” world, the antithesis of the show’s featured serial killers and Ford’s overconfidence. In a world of straight white men, Dr. Carr is a shining, queer light. Here’s hoping we get less Ford and a lot more Carr in the coming season.