Billy Crystal is getting a lot of flack for his “outdated” turn as host of last night’s Academy Awards. That is unfair. In the business since 1975, Crystal has a history of breaking boundaries, especially when he played Jodie Dallas on the satirical 70s-era soap “Soap.” Dallas was one of the first gay characters on primetime television, and a character that helped me understand my own homosexuality [in reruns, honey; I'm not that old!].
Of course, Jodie was a problematic representation: first he thought he wasn’t gay, but rather a woman trapped in a man’s body; then he had a closeted relationship with a football player; then he married a woman; and then he became an old Jewish man. Art imitating life? A premonition? Confused? These questions—and many others—will be answered in the next episode of… “Soap.”
Well, no, they won’t, because the show was canceled in 1981.
To commemorate it, and Crystal’s comedic past, here are are five videos of Crystal bravely playing Jodie Dallas, a controversial character that, despite his flaws, was groundbreaking in 1977, less than a decade after the modern gay rights movement exploded in the Stonewall Riots.
Just a warning: Though this show was a comedy, there are a lot of touching moments, and the last video here may bring a tear to your eye.