World AIDS Day is every year on Dec. 1 and can be overlooked by many people as we celebrate the official start of the holiday season.
However, given that HIV/AIDS affected approximately 36.7 million people worldwide at the end of 2016 and is still considered to be a significant health issue today, it deserves attention.
As 2017 comes to an end, let’s reflect on a few of the television programs that feature powerful storylines for characters living with HIV. More so, how it affected not only these individuals, but also their loved ones.
1. “An Early Frost” (1985)
The made-for-television film was the first to address the topic of gay men affected by the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s. Penned by Ron Cowen and Daniel Lipman, the screenwriters made one of the earliest strides to break the stigma surrounding the ostracized community. Despite the revolutionary storyline, Lipman recalled in 2015 to The Huffington Post that NBC did not give them an easy time. “You couldn’t stack the deck by having the gay characters be ‘too gay.’ You couldn’t have all the straight people be the villains and the gay people be the heroes.”
2. “Designing Women” (1987)
The episode “Killing All the Right People” shows the character Kendall Dobbs (Tony Goldwyn) asking the main women on the show to design his funeral. Dobbs is then revealed to be gay and dying of AIDS. One of the most iconic moments in the episode was the following exchange:
Imogene: “As far as I’m concerned, this disease has one thing going for it: It’s killing all the right people.”
Julia Sugarbaker: “Imogene, get serious, who do you think you’re talking to? I’ve known you for 27 years and all I can say is if God was giving out sexually transmitted diseases to people as punishment for sin, then you would be at the free clinic all the time!”
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