arduinna: a tarot-card version of Linus from Peanuts, carrying a lamp as The Hermit (Default)
[personal profile] arduinna
[personal profile] dorinda asked a question that I had actually just been thinking about recently myself, so I'm gonna start with that:

Do you think it would be possible to have a story, written today, centered around the Night Court episode "Best of Friends", or would the period-accurate (& therefore sometimes transphobic) handling of some of it make it a non-starter or drawerfic?

So, for background: the Night Court ep 'Best of Friends' aired in 1985, and the main storyline was about Dan Fielding, absolutely giddy with delight at an upcoming visit from his best college buddy. This level of delight is so weird for Dan. He doesn't have friends, see; he has conquests, and he has contacts, and he has people he sucks up to or uses for whatever he needs, but he doesn't have friends. And yet clearly, he adores this guy, Chip, who's coming to see him, and he is so excited! They were drinking buddies and womanizing buddies and they told each other everything and YES! CHIP IS COMING TO VISIT! He has always been Dan's ideal of manhood, and Dan can't wait to relive their former glories.

But what Dan doesn't know is that "Chip" is really Charlene, who was AMAB and struggled terribly with that for years, and who is finally living the life she always wanted and about to get married, and wanted Dan (whom Charlene also adores - it was a genuine friendship) to know the truth, and to get his blessing. (Erk, wrong word; she wants him to be happy for her, because he really matters to her - but she loves her life and isn't going to not live it the way she wants to if Dan can't deal with the truth.)

Okay, so: 1985. Dan Fielding. A big chunk of the episode is Dan's furious, cruel, betrayed reaction to Charlene's appearance and explanation. Transphobic is putting it lightly.

But otoh, it doesn't end there; Dan works through it, and although it's incredibly difficult for him to see that Charlene is the same friend he always loved, he gets there. And he even gets protective of her (which okay, seriously sexist for him to tell her fiance that if he hurts Charlene, Dan will kill him - but Dan is sexist through and through, so it still comes as a sign of progress).

There is just so much scope in this episode for fanfic, looking at Dan's willingness to move past at least some of his rigid way of looking at the world, and how when he loves someone it's intense and real, and how maybe that's why he doesn't have friends - he knows how to do transactional relationships, but not really how to do casual friendships; it's all or nothing with him, and he anchors himself to his real relationships, so he's at risk of being set badly adrift if something goes wrong.

But that said, this would be really dicey to write about today, because even though this episode at heart is about accepting people for who they are, regardless of who that is, it's still done in a mid-80s way, which is 30 years out of date.

I think it could be done, but drawerfic or a locked-down posting might be the way to go. I would hate to see someone looking for trans tags stumble into 80s transphobia (and even 80s trans norms - lots of things were different) without realizing it.

My brain is all aswirl with caveats and but-ifs, but yeah: in this particular case, I think an episode-centered story should be kept more private.
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