Thank you for being a friend

From Kathy Griffin's right-hand man to Steve Carell as a nutty boss, we take a look at our on-screen allies

By Rohin Guha

Behind every formidable LGBT television hero is their straight ally. No, not someone whiny and histrionic like Grace Adler. These are unlikely allies - you wouldn't peg them to frequent the company of gays or lesbians, but when they do, you feel your heart melt a little. Sometimes these men are unattainable love interests. Other times, they provide the difference between life and death for our TV heroes. Or once in a while, they're there so viewers can vicariously experience the joy of gay pride, if only because they're too cloistered to do so anyway.

Eric Northman ("True Blood," 9 p.m. Sundays, HBO)

He emerged in season one of the vampire serial as the cold, distant overlord of Bon Temps - a stark contrast to Bill Compton. But in one of the most bizarrely erotic sequences to air recently, Eric lent his own blood - as vampire blood is said to heal all ailments - to Lafayette, who was otherwise infirm and unable to move about. And those of us watching felt our hearts tingle at the prospect of a budding Lafayette-Eric romance on the horizon, if only because such a thing seems a bit unlikely, though never impossible.

Michael Scott ("The Office," 9:30 p.m. Thursdays, NBC)

I'm not sure in this case if it's unlikely as it is totally unwelcome, but Steve Carell - who was just nominated recently for an Emmy and rightly so - does a bang-up job as "The Office" boss Michael Scott. When interacting with the token gay, Oscar, he seems to dance on eggshells. Sometimes, Scott dispenses off-color gay jokes without tact - but also with the bestest of intentions. Still, we can't forget the episode where Scott actually plants a big kiss on Oscar's lips to show his LGBT solidarity.

Dr. Cooper ("Nurse Jackie," 10:30 p.m. Mondays, Showtime)

Peter Facinelli has minted his entire reputation on playing douche bags, from "Can't Hardly Wait" to "Six Feet Under." But in episode six of this series, we got insight into the compassionate side of Dr. Cooper - Facinelli's latest alter ego. When his two moms showed up at the ER, played delightfully by Swoosie Kurtz and Blythe Danner, respectively, Cooper's materialistic entitlement melted away into withering concern and obsequious devotion. For once we see Dr. Cooper not being a complete jerk, but a three-dimensional character with insecurities and a little depth.

Tom Vize ("Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List," 10 p.m. Mondays, Bravo)

Not directly a friend to the gays, but Vize is close enough. As Kathy Griffin's whipping boy, Vize puts on a champion smile and grins and bears it like a man when doing Griffin's bidding. And considering that Kathy Griffin is practically an honorary gay man, this makes Vize one of the preeminent fag stags to be trolling through "D-List" pastures as of late.

Rohin Guha, a Michigan native living in NYC, is a freelance columnist for Between The Lines. His TV column runs the last week of each month. Visit his blog at http://www.ohrohin.com.

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