Emmerdale’s love quadrangle stirs controversey

(Pictured from left to right, out actor Matthew Bose as Paul, Christopher Villiers as Grayson, Georgia Slowe as Perdy and Richard Grieve as Jonny.)

Since posting about the upcoming wedding on Brit soap Emmerdale, I've been reading a bit more about the storyline which, it turns out, is highly unpopular with fans.

Paul has been a part of Emmerdale since 2004, when he arrived in Beckindale (Emmerdale's setting) and became the first openly gay man in the village, shocking them with his openness about his sexuality and for his drag persona Thelma Louise. His first major relationship in Beckindale was with closeted bisexual Ivan, who had public relationships with women while keeping his encounters with men on the down low.

As Thelma Louise, however, Paul accidentally outed Ivan after a performance. After she learned of the relationship, Paul's step-sister Nicola tried to steal Ivan away. Her attempts failed, but she did manage to break up Paul and Ivan.

In 2006, Emmerdale introduced Perdy and Grayson, a couple with a troubled marriage. Grayson turned out to be bisexual with a history of cheating on Perdy with men. Meanwhile, his mother, Rosemary, doesn't hide her disapproval of her daughter-in-law and has schemed against her. After Paul rescued Grayson from an attempted homophobic attack, Perdy started to worry that Paul was having an affair with her husband, leading her to inadvertently set up Paul with his current boyfriend Jonny. Paul grew closer to both Grayson and Perdy grew when the couple separated and Perdy refused to talk to Grayson directly. Despite his relationship with Jonny and friendship with Perdy, Paul has pursued a relationship with Grayson. When Jonny proposes marriage to Paul, it's partially an attempt to hold onto Paul as he grows closer to another man.

The love quadrangle has some Emmerdale fans upset, however. A good part of that frustration seems to come out of seeing well-liked characters like Perdy and Jonny get set up for disappointment, but fans are also infuriated to see Paul betraying his close friend Perdy. The disloyal act, they feel, doesn't match the way Paul has behaved on the show for years, and worse, he's being mischaracterized for an unengaging story. Additionally, since Jonny gets very little screen time, the show comes off as disinterested in a healthy, gay relationship in favor of a sensational retread of Paul's relationship with Ivan.

Since there isn't a lot of Emmerdale video of Paul, Ivan or Jonny to be found online I'm basing this from a lot of reading. I'd love to hear more from our readers (who offered some great insight in my previous Emmerdale post). Do Paul's current actions go against his previously-established character? Is Emmerdale ignoring a positive gay depiction in favor of a sensational story? Is it repetitive to see Paul perusing another relationship with a bisexual man who's never had a relationship with a man? Does that repetition reveal a limited view in how Emmerdale's creative team see the story potential for gay characters, by twice making a bisexual man someone for a gay man and a straight woman to fight over?

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