Russell T Davies: Rise of Disney makes me worry about gay content

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Russell T Davies has said he is concerned about what the rise of Disney and the success of its streaming service Disney+ means for gay content.

The television writer, best known for his work on Queer As Folk, Doctor Who and Cucumber, cited the example of TV series Love, Victor, about a young man struggling with his sexuality, being moved from the service over to another US streaming platform, Hulu.

Davies told the virtual Edinburgh TV Festival he is concerned this is a sign of things to come, as Disney continues to grow in size following its acquisition of Fox.

He said: “Can I just say my one negative worry is the rise of Disney actually.

“I love a Disney show, I love a Disney film, I love these things, but that is a giant.

“Disney+ is barely a year and it is vast already,  it’s already started charging for your live action Mulan, so you can see the money rollercoasting towards it, and my great worry with huge monoliths like that is it’s family orientated, it’s family friendly.

“It had a series called Love, Victor, which is a television spin-off of the film Love, Simon, which is a gay series. They moved it on to Hulu, they commissioned it and developed it, then they moved it.

He added: “There’s a small sign there of what will happen once this free-for-all becomes great big monoliths, as it will.

“Disney is out to buy all of these companies and will keep buying them, and then, as a gay man, I’m sitting there going ‘Well where is my content?’

“When Disney+ launched they had 3,931 hours of entertainment, it took 23 weeks to watch, I could watch the gay content in half an hour and that’s really important to me and really scares me.”

However, Davies said he has been encouraged by the “ferocious” intelligence of some television recently.

He said: “I think it’s an interesting time, I think it’s kind of exciting, I have my worries, but I spent a long time watching When They See Us, and This Is America and Succession, and the intelligence of these shows is ferocious.

One thing that particularly interests me is how much freedom and how much excitement there is in Hollywood, Ryan Murphy’s Hollywood (a series on Netflix) which is a mad old show, bonkers, but the freedom it has.

“You think you’re watching a period drama, and then it re-writes history, racism is overcome in Hollywood in 1940 and they are just starting to unravel homophobia in 1949.

“Ryan Murphy (its creator) is on a Netflix deal that gives him the creative space to do what he wants, because even with his great powers I do watch that thinking ‘Would you have got that commissioned by a network?’ Wouldn’t a network have said ‘What on earth is this? What on earth are you doing?'”

He added: “I’m talking streamers, I’m also talking HBO and BBC stuff, I May Destroy You, which I’m singling out as the greatest piece of writing I’ve seen in my life, never mind this year, ever, I think it’s truly, truly phenomenal.

“From my point of view, I’m looking for gay material, popcorn stuff like Stranger Things, what a great lesbian character in the last series, it’s very, very exciting.”

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