I wonder how long it would’ve taken me to realize that Charles Nelson Reilly was incredibly, incredibly gay if I’d started watching Match Game in the 70s when it first aired instead of the 90s when we got Game Show Network. I started watching the show when I was ten or eleven, and I didn’t realize that CNR was gay until I was in college. Mostly because I stopped watching GSN as they started running their own game shows instead of just ones from the 50s-80s. Which, unsurprisingly, I was a gigantic fanilow of. (At the time, I mostly liked the ones from the 70s—these days, I regret that I missed my opportunity to be able to watch b&w game shows on the TV due to finding them boring.)
I also never got it because…well, first (or second) of all, I was a pretty sheltered kid—I learned what lesbians were from Sailor Moon and gays from Gundam Wing, pretty much. But also because the code he uses is grounded so firmly in mid-20th-century culture that I couldn’t possibly have looked at his ascots and listened to his voice and realized what I was supposed to get. I didn’t know enough about the context of the show when I was ten; all I knew was that it was funny and that I wanted to be just like Brett Somers, because she was really cool and best friends with Charles Nelson Reilly, who was my second-favourite after Brett. (Third-favourite was Richard Dawson, but it always bothered me that to go on Family Feud, you had to kiss him on the lips if you were a girl, and I really didn’t want to have to do that, never mind that he hadn’t hosted the show for at least ten years when I started watching him. I still daydreamed constantly about going on all of these shows. I feel like I’m revealing exactly why I am who I am by telling you stuff like this.)
But if it was the 70s, maybe Match Game is partly where I would’ve learned about gays from. Between CNR here and Paul Lynde on the old Hollywood Squares (in my actualfax life, I didn’t realize Lynde was gay for years, either, mostly because I only knew him as Kim’s father in Bye Bye Birdie), game shows could’ve been pretty eye-opening for me, lol.
I also kind of wonder how long it’s going to be until I’m part of the target audience of the Game Show Network, considering that Pat Boone is currently trying to sell me a walk-in bathtub. Which I’d actually kind of like to have, because it seems like it’d make reading in the bath much easier! So I guess maybe I am actually part of the target audience, just a few decades early. DX