Xtreme Fag Hag*
An actor and character this week instead of a scene. Charlie Condou has been fabulous, in my opinion, portraying Marcus Confused.
It’s been clear for some time that Maria developed more feelings for Marcus than appropriate for a straight woman towards her gay male friend. But this week, in the highly wrought emotional environment of Maria’s cancer scare, Marcus tipped over the edge from support superman to a man who enjoyed a kiss from a woman. Indeed enjoyed it so much that he initiated another. Nothing wrong with that. Except that both are in relationships with other people, and the man is gay.
Some have not liked this storyline, saying that Marcus has always been gay and will always be gay. Ok, but what’s wrong with showing a bit of the complexity of human emotions and sexual responses?
Charlie Condou is showing us a man shaken to his very core by his actions. As Marcus said to Maria, he had never done this before – kiss a woman. In his distress about what this means and his guilt, he lashes out at his lover and goes on an all night bender. Next day he looks truly hung-over. He is uncomfortable around Maria, Jason, Aiden, Sean – even himself.
We knew that somehow Maria’s infatuation with Marcus was going to come out. I am glad that it’s being done this way instead of some ham-handed action on her part to convert him or convince him that he really is straight. As it played out, she was really as surprised by their kiss as Marcus was and as uncomfortable about the change in their relationship and the ramifications for everything. Post-kiss, he looks meaningfully at her as much as she at him. Both are equally uncomfortable with their men. Both just want to forget it ever happened and neither can.
The actors are softly presenting themselves and their dilemma in a storyline that would be very easy to overact. Charlie Condou, in particular, has gone from strength to strength, I think. He started as Sean’s boyfriend, very nice but kind of bland without any edges written into him, to a strong character. He’s still very nice but his edges and layers now show. I don’t think that Marcus is going to decide he’s straight and run off with Maria – I hope not anyway. But I think it’s good that he is showing us the complicated depths of the human psyche.
Departing executive producer Phil Collinson has created some of the best Corrie storylines about sexuality and ‘alternative lifestyles’. I hope that the ground he has opened up continues to be explored.
* I googled fag hag to see if this term was still known and if I’d be offending anyone by using it. Yes to the first and probably not to the second, it seems. In the course of that, I found a 1980 book by John Malone that sounds interesting. Text link goes to Amazon.ca for Straight women/gay men: A special relationship. Enjoy.