Entertainment » Television

MTV and LOGO Special :: It Gets Better

by Kevin Taft
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Saturday Feb 18, 2012
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In the wake of a rash of teen suicides as the result of bullying and lack of acceptance, columnist/speaker/author Dan Savage and his partner Terry Miller created the "It Gets Better" project. The innovative support system came by the way of YouTube videos offering support and positive thinking to anyone struggling with coming to terms with their sexuality - or - just being different. The project became something of a phenomenon garnering support and videos from the likes of President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, Sia, Adam Levine, Anne Hathaway, and many others.

Nearly two years later, MTV and Logo have teamed up to air an hour long special called, not-surprisingly, "It Gets Better." The documentary-style show follows the lives of three young people from the LGBT community in various stages of dealing with their sexuality and how if affects those around them. There’s the young man - president of his Senior Class - who has yet to come out to his friends and family; an African American lesbian whose mother is in denial as to her daughter’s true identity; and a transgendered man who is about to get married to his girlfriend, only to be terrified he will be denied a marriage license because his birth certificate still lists him as a female.

It would behoove MTV and Logo to continue the series in order to break down stereotypes and social expectations.

Interspersed in the stories are clips from "It Gets Better" videos submitted by people across the world, as well as commentary from Savage and Miller themselves. Mining the same style as MTV shows like "True Life," "It Gets Better" will certainly be eye opening to those not familiar with the struggles of LGBT youth. By taking three people at various stages of dealing with their sexuality, we get to see not only that a.) it can get better, but also b.) just how wide a range of issues that comprise the struggles of the LGBT community.

The question will be: will those not already on "our side" tune in? The review copy of the show listed the special as a "pilot," yet MTV is promoting it as a "special." One wonders if the ratings are good, if they will continue it as a series. While it might seem to speak to a small portion of viewers, having a series solely devoted to LGBT people could be groundbreaking. Not only would showing the trials and successes of gay teenagers be helpful, but also showing gay adults could expand upon those same struggles and joys. This could clearly illustrate the theme of the project, as well as show the wide spectrum of LGBT people that live, breathe, and love on Planet Earth.

While the "It Gets Better" special is informative and interesting, for those unfamiliar with the LGBT community, it would behoove MTV and Logo to continue the series in order to break down stereotypes and social expectations. This episode is a great stepping-stone for informing the masses. One hopes it won’t just be preaching to the choir, because programs like this can do a lot of good. I applaud MTV for continuing to break boundaries with their programming. And while its programming choices can sometimes be suspect (the latest incarnations of "The Real World," "Teen Mom"), it’s when they offer programming like "It Gets Better" that we realize how affective and effective this network can be. Here’s hoping this isn’t a ’one-shot and you’re out’ deal. Because "It Gets Better" could easily keep getting better.

Kevin Taft is a screenwriter/critic living in Los Angeles with an unnatural attachment to ’Star Wars’ and the desire to be adopted by Steven Spielberg. He can be seen in the flesh on the weekly PBS movie review series "Just Seen It."

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