Visible: Out on Television It is an important project, which Apple particularly cares about because the topic covered is one of those considered fundamental for the company and its social positions. The topic is in fact tough, because even in 2020 talking about gay rights, LGBTQ and respect for diversity (whether sexual, religious or racial) is still very complex and delicate. Has this docuserie managed to hit the target?
The LGBTQ world
With old clips and interviews with important characters from the world of television, the series explores the history of LGBTQ movement American through the lens of the TV. The viewer will see archival images and new interviews, all with a direct focus on homophobia, the evolution of LGBTQ characters and the coming out of the television world.
In Visible there are moments of dark humor, but they are very few and often difficult to grasp. Most of the time, the story is about LGBTQ life of the late twentieth century seen through the lens of American TV.
In the past, some documentaries designed for cinema have already dealt with similar subjects, but Visibile is designed to be seen at home, in a more intimate and familiar situation that allows the docuserie to delve deeper into some social and cultural changes of the last decades .
Visible takes place in five episodes and there is currently no second season. Each episode lasting about an hour deals with a specific topic: “Dark times “,” Television as a tool “,” The epidemic “,” Turns “and” The new guard“.
The first three chapters are particularly strong, especially when they examine media coverage areas such as news, reality shows, soap operas and talk shows.
Dark times, for example, not only mentions the first appearance of the word “homosexual” on television during McCarthy’s auditions, but describes in detail the chain effects in the media and beyond. In the episode it is understood convincingly that theinvisibility is a curse intended to contain marginalized people by insisting that they do not exist. And this doesn’t seem to matter to anyone.
Television as an instrument tells in a very moving way how gay activist groups have slowly recognized the power of television as a platform to spread awareness of their presence and their rights. Mark Segal talks about his frequent attempts to stop the live news to share his message.
The epidemic focuses on how therise of AIDS has been roughly covered by the media, both in the news and in the in-depth broadcasts. The main story told in the episode is that of Pedro Zamora, a well-known TV personality whose shocking death from AIDS shook the whole country as never before.
The last two episodes approach the present and are not as successful as the first three. carried starring the actress Ellen DeGeneres who tells her success story thanks to an innovative and unscrupulous talk show. The new guardFinally, it focuses on how the LGBTQ world is represented on TV today. Much has changed and the situation seems to have and want to improve over time. This last episode is perhaps the least successful of all the docuserie, despite the interesting intervention of the Pose star, Billy Porter
A story that moves
As already mentioned, the first episodes are certainly the best, thanks above all to archival footage that shows the situation of the LGBTQ world in the last century. Archival images from the 1950s and 1960s make us understand how, at the time and at best, LGBTQ people appeared on TV as curious specimens to be shown to the public. A homosexual woman says she was invited to a transmission together with a deaf man and a man with multiple sclerosis, as if to want to pass her condition like a disease, physical and / or mental.
We will also see a whole series of speeches by psychiatrists who, in the 1960s, seriously talk about homosexuality just like an incurable mental illness. Also at that time, a sitcom was not taken into consideration because the main role had been entrusted to a homosexual.
In the various episodes we will also listen to the interviews of Wanda Sykes and Wilson Cruz (co-producers of the series), Ellen DeGeneres, Armistead Maupin, Caitlyn Jenner, Ryan Phillippe, Margaret Cho, Neil Patrick Harris, Oprah Winfrey and many others. Some interventions are very measured, but there is no shortage of people such as the activist Miss Major Griffin-Gacy who uses colorful enough sentences to tell her story, or that of Billy Porter who, with great anger, talks about the AIDS epidemic of the years’ 80.
Looking at this series we understand how American television was dominated by straight white men who often distorted the narrative and put homosexuality in a bad light those few times when the topic was covered in some broadcast, film or TV series. There is no lack of more recent citations, such as the story of the character Carrie in Sex and the City, which initially had to be centered also on his bisexuality then almost completely shelved.
What makes “Visible” very interesting is the attention to detail in such a wide context, in addition to the goal achieved to have given voice to people and characters very interesting and little known to the general public.
The five episodes of the first season of Visible: Out on Television are available on Apple TV +.
Visible achieves the difficult goal of using TV as a tool to tell the story of the LGBTQ world. The fact is that it is a very “American” story, which presupposes the knowledge of some TV broadcasts, anecdotes and some little-known characters in the rest of the world. Some episodes lengthen in telling uninteresting and important aspects, almost wanting to lengthen the broth, while tall tell too much in a short time. In any case, it is a very important document, which elegantly deals with a very delicate topic. Some archival images really leave the chills for how the LGBTQ community was treated.