Billy Crystal, who played one of television’s first-ever gay series regular on the comedy “Soap,” said today’s portrayal of LGBT characters is, at times, gratuitous.
“Sometimes I think, ‘Ah that’s too much for me,” the comedian told the audience at the Television Critics Association press tour in Pasadena during a panel discussion for his new show, “The Comedians,” which premiers in April on FX.
Crystal played Jodie Dallas on the ABC comedy “Soap” from 1977 to 1981.
“It was very difficult at the time,” said Crystal. “Jodie was really the first recurring [gay] character on network television and it was a different time, it was 1977. So, yeah, it was awkward. It was tough.”
Crystal told the audience his groundbreaking performance didn’t sit well with some viewers back in the day.
“I did it in front of a live audience and there were times when I would say to Bob [Seagren], ‘I love you,’ and the audience would laugh nervously. I wanted to stop the taping and go, ‘What is your problem?'”
But, the comedian says today’s gay storylines are, at times, too much.
“Sometimes, it’s just pushing it a little too far for my taste and I’m not going to reveal to you which ones they are.”
Crystal isn’t the only person to raise the argument. “How to Get Away with Murder’s” gay character, Connor Walsh (Jack Falahee), has certainly gained attention for some of his provocative scenes. Falahee’s unapologetic sex scenes included some graphic moments that had some viewers squeamish.
In one particular scene, Falahee’s character famously had one of his lovers’ eyes water with an act involving the derriere.
“I hope people don’t abuse it and shove it in our face… to the point where it feels like an every day kind of thing.”
Watch a scene of Crystal as Jodie Dallas on “Soap” here.
“The Comedians” premieres April 9 at 10 p.m. on FX.
Editor’s note: A previous version of this story mistakenly stated that Crystal was the first series regular gay character. TheWrap regrets the error.
Related stories from TheWrap: