Instinct: A story starring a queer character

Alan Cumming as Prof. Dylan Reinhart. Jonathan Wenk.

by Abra Cullen
Staff Writer
Should queer representation be delegated to Oscar bait? Many of us would probably answer “no” to that question.

This March, a crime drama series will premier with the lead character, a CIA agent, who is openly gay. The series, titled Instinct, will star actor Alan Cumming as a former spy, Prof. Dylan Reinhart.

The show is based on the 2017 thriller novel Murder Games by James Patterson and will follow the life of Reinhart as he teams up with Detective Lizzie Needham, played by Bojana Novakovic.

“There are so many different layers,” Cumming said his character’s sexuality is not even the third or fourth most interesting thing about him.

Cumming added he was glad that the showrunners hadn’t made his character’s sexuality the focus of the show. “Most times we see a gay character on television, their gayness is their primary’s sort of a problem,” he said to Huffington Post.

“It is important in our current political climate, especially for the queer community. [Trump] is actively condoning, by his silence, violence and persecution against the LGBT community.”

Former Oklahoma resident Keaton Bell said that for him, Cummings role is more than just groundbreaking. “It’s important for shows like Instinct to have queer characters. I know some people may say, ‘but his character is a CIA agent, why does he need to be gay?’ That’s precisely the point.”

Queer representation, according to Bell, shouldn’t be delegated to, “Oscar bait.” Bell is a talent group entertainment associate for Condé Nast, a mass media company based in New York.

 “[It] shouldn’t be delegated to intellectual awards bait that gets deemed as ‘important’ and ‘groundbreaking’ by straight, white, male critics because an overtly ‘masculine’ Hollywood actor goes against type by playing a queer character.”

Bell said though stories such as A Fantastic Woman or Moonlight that center on the narrative of queer experience are important, it is just as important to have representation, “in something as silly as a CBS crime drama.”

Bell continued that it’s important for queer stories to transcend their queerness and become stories that happen to star queer characters.

“I want to see a Friends-style sitcom with a gay character, a Big Little Lies-esque miniseries focusing on a group of LGBTQ+ parents in an affluent suburb, and a Scandal spinoff starring a transgender woman where her gender is insignificant to how badass she is.

“All types of representation matters, and Instinct is a very solid step in the right direction.”

The Gayly. February 27, 2018. 9:50 a.m. CST.