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How Queer was/is My Two Dads?

by Ethan Tussey

by kellen kaiser for IN MEDIA RES

“Queer theory allows us to view the world from perspectives other than those which are generally validated by dominant society.”

When the TV show, My Two Dads premiered in 1987, I was a six year old whose own lesbian mothers had gotten married in a non-legally binding ceremony the year before. From my young and unique perspective, one thing was clear to me when watching the show; this was as close to an example of our kind of family as TV had. I was always looking for how the main character’s family might mirror my own.

Perhaps, I missed the pilot episode that establishes how these two men come to live together; a woman that they were each involved with, before she passed away, had left behind a daughter. When the matter of the girl’s paternity can’t be resolved, they end up co-parenting her. Sure, they claimed to be straight, but I wasn’t fooled. Either way, the show featured same-sex parenting even if they were (straight, that is).

This was almost twenty years before Modern Family featured gay dads, a decade before Ellen came out. Queerspawn, as an identity, has only recently started to emerge within media culture. When My Two Dads was around there was no representation of our families at all. Nowadays, it would constantly have to be clarified that they weren’t in fact just gay dads. “My Two Dads” as a title would almost presume that to be in the case, in the current landscape. Looking back at the show, I wonder if this sort of thing could get made now. The greater heteronormativity of the time, in which queer families were invisible or absent, allowed My Two Dads to exist. Yet, if part of Queer liberation is the redefinition of family, from a biologically determined group to one defined by love, then My Two Dads supports this idea of chosen family. Although there is the premise that one or the other is her biological father, they both defacto adopt her. My Two Dads, if nothing else offered an expanded notion of family.


Queer Theory and Parenting

A clip from My Two Dads

from My Two Dads (1987)
Creator: Danielle Alexandra and Michael Jacobs
Distributor: YouTube
Posted by Ethan Tussey