There has already been plenty of talk about this year’s Emmys being gayer than ever, what with “The Normal Heart”‘s 16 nominations and “Orange Is the New Black”‘s 13 nominations. And while most don’t look to “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” as an LGBT-conscious show, consider this: if Andre Braugher wins in his category, he’ll be the first black actor to win for playing a gay series regular character on TV.
Now, we can’t say he’ll be the first black actor to ever win by portraying an LGBT character — that honor goes to Jeffrey Wright for his portrayal of Belize in HBO’s “Angels in America.” But here’s something else to consider: we are in the realm of “just happens to be gay” storytelling in film and TV now (hello, “Looking”), and Braugher’s role in the freshman FOX comedy embodies that. He’s an openly gay police chief who, you guessed it, just happens to be gay. It doesn’t lend toward any comedic fodder or make his character any more unique than if he were straight. He just is.
The actor isn’t new to the Emmy scene, having won two of a whopping eight nominations (1998’s “Homicide: Life on the Streets” and 2006’s “Thief”), which makes him the TV academy favorite. It’s also an impressive debut into comedy, compared to his array of dramatic roles, where he represents the only nomination (aside from a minor creative nod) for the otherwise ignored “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.”
Unlike “The Normal Heart” and even “Orange Is the New Black,” notice there’s no mention of being LGBT-centric. This Emmy nomination, and likely win come Monday night, carries some surprising significance when viewed as an actor getting acknowledged for playing a series regular character who happens to be gay, not because he IS gay. It’s kind of refreshing when you think of it that way.