“The Cleveland Show” Tackles Gay Marriage and Avoids Projectile Vomiting

Paul, Terry and Cleveland

It’s no secret that some of Seth MacFarlane’s previous forays into GLBT territory on his animated shows American Dad, Family Guy and  The Cleveland Show left us wondering whether he was completely clueless when it comes to gay issues.

MacFarlane waded into those waters once again Sunday night on The Cleveland Show in “Terry Unmarried.” In the episode, Cleveland discovers that his marriage to his wife Donna isn’t legal because her divorce was never finalized. Finding himself newly single, Cleveland and his buddies decide to live it up by going drinking at a new bar in town, which they quickly learn is a gay bar.

Despite their initial discomfort, the guys have fun (turns out they like having drinks bought for them), at least until they see Cleveland’s friend and co-worker Terry Kimple kissing another man. 

That man turns out be Terry’s boyfriend Paul.
Cleveland’s reaction at the news ranges between accepting – “there is
nothing wrong with gay people” – to confusion because Terry has dated
plenty of women to gay panic – he covers his backside as he leaves the
bar in case Terry is unable to resist Cleveland’s, um, charms.

After Cleveland initially turns down a dinner invitation from Terry and Paul, Donna convinces him they should go, and the episode nicely punctures the stereotypes that all gay men work in hair salons, hate sports, and dress and cook fabulously. Inspired by Donna, and with her assistance, Terry and Paul make an abortive attempt to “bring gay marriage to Virginia” (met by an enraged mob wielding torches and pitchforks).

This prompts the two couples to drive to Vermont for a double wedding,
where Terry gets cold feet, but a heartfelt speech from Cleveland
convinces him to go through with the ceremony.

This is the second time MacFarlane has used same-sex marriage as a plot point in one of his shows. In the Family Guy episode “You May Now Kiss the…Uh…Guy Who Receives,” he cleverly satirized political operatives who use opposition to same-sex marriage as a political smokescreen by having Mayor Adam West ban same-sex marriage as political cover for having blown the town treasury on a gold statue of Sugar Smacks cereal mascot Dig ‘Em the Frog.

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