A Look at Disney’s LGBTQ Characters: Sheriff Blubs and Deputy Durland (Gravity Falls)
This is going to be tough. I like Gravity Falls but I think there is one big blemish on it, that being Blubs and Durland. Is it because they’re cops? No, even though I brought up that as an issue when looking at the cop character from Onward. Rather, I am uncomfortable with how the show treats these two. This is something that my friend Austin Shinn brought up in his review of the series.
I also get that the intention was a love story with Bubbs and Durland but it felt like a bad joke
I absolutely agree with this and this is something that I felt when watching the show. Whenever these two characters would appear, I’d get queasy and it felt like the show was mocking the LGBTQ+ community with these characters. I don’t believe that to be Alex Hirsch’s intent considering how hard he fought for a moment between two old ladies.
When one of our storyboard artists presented the scene to me, she’d made one of the couples two lovable old ladies. It was sweet and casual and I knew INSTANTLY that it was going to turn into a huge fight with Disney. So naturally I left it in. The note came back immediately “The scene of the two old ladies kissing in the diner is not appropriate for our audience. Please revise.” I responded with a one word answer: “Why?”
I appreciate Hirsch going to bat for the community and sticking his neck out and he still does that to this day. As seen recently at the beginning of Pride Month.
However, the Out article that I linked to highlights something so important.
Many times Hirsch has talked about how hard he fought to get gay representation on his show, sometimes to the point where he takes more credit for pushing representation forward than he deserves.
Queer creators like Rebecca Sugar (Steven Universe), Shadi Petowski (Danger & Eggs), Noelle Stevenson (She-Ra), Tim Federle (High School Musical: The Musical: The Series), and Dana Terrace (The Owl House) have fought tooth and nail to get queer characters into their shows, and they succeeded, without the straight, cis privilege that Hirsch has.
If Hirsch wants to consider himself an ally, that’s fine, but he needs to stop pretending that including two ineffectual and simple-minded gay cops in his show makes him an LGBTQ+ trailblazer. It doesn’t.
Oh my god, thank you Out. There are so many things to break down here that I agree with, I truly think that more than he deserves line in the first paragraph is so important as that feels so true. And I’ve already covered Lumity and Carlos and Seb during this series. However, this brings up Catra and Adora.
It wasn’t easy for Stevenson. She was afraid the studio wouldn’t let her portray a same-sex relationship between the lead protagonists of a children’s animated show. After all, She-Ra is a beloved character with a dedicated fanbase, and some “fans” have been vocal in the past over the type of hero and woman they think she should be. “It’s very vulnerable—especially as a gay creator—to be like, ‘Here’s what I want to do. I want to take She-Ra Princess of Power, a classic iconic character, a legacy character, and give her a female love interest. And a romantic ending,’” Stevenson said.
In many ways, Catradora was my Lumity before Lumity. Sure, I wasn’t on board from season one but you could sense the tension, and also unlike these two cops, they were main characters, so it mattered and felt earned. Also in many ways, Blubs and Durland and their little amount of screentime in episodes feel no different than LeFou’s exclusively gay moment or the Joe Russo cameo in Endgame.
Also, the characters being ineffectual is another important point that my friend Austin highlighted and I brought up in the opening, they were treated as a joke and that made me uncomfortable and as though I was getting a message that I wasn’t welcome. This is hard to explain but I feel as though these characters would be dated even a decade ago.
I want more gay rep, that’s part of why I started this series but I want characters that feel like characters and not caricatures. I feel as though Blubs and Durland fall into the latter category. I’m sorry, I really am but these two characters deserved better from the show they were in and how the show made fun of them pisses me off. Look at this piece about homophobic bullying and that’ll help you understand my frustrations.
Homophobic bullying is when people behave or speak in a way which makes someone feel bullied because of their actual or perceived sexuality. People may be a target of this type of bullying because of their appearance, behaviour, physical traits or because they have friends or family who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning or possibly just because they are seen as being different.
The most important word here is “behave” and the actions of Blubs and Durland are stereotypical and as though the audience is meant to laugh at and not with them.
This is admittedly one of the better moments but it is all about the execution and I feel as though it was fumbled quite a bit with these two. Also looking at ineffectual brings up another key point tying into my caricature point. You can have a gay couple and still have them feel like real characters see The McBride Family on The Loud House.
This goes back to my point that while I don’t believe this to be Alex Hirsch’s intent, Bubs and Durland comes across as being gay only because it’s funny to have gay characters in your show.
I really don’t have anything else left to say and I know this is going to be an unpopular entry because of how much people love this show and I get it but as I said at the top, the treatment of these two characters is a huge blemish on what I think is an otherwise good show.