“The problem with bromance is there always has to be this sexual subtext, a ‘will they, won’t they’ approach. This is unfair to everyone.”

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  1. If you look at it historically, there are a whole lot of different ways in which depictions of “bromance” have been used and read in relation to homosexuality. Back in the early days of movies, a lot of very close friendships between men could be portrayed as such without anyone worrying about whether there were homosexual undertones. It wasn’t something “normal” people talked about, so a bromance was just a good friendship.

    And then you have instances where this obliviousness was used to film makers advantages…such as Ben Hur and this old western movie which I cannot remember the name of. But they had coded homosexuality in them…so that the close friendship between the two male characters was meant to be a code for a homosexual relationship they couldn’t portray. This “will they, won’t they,” tension was done specifically to get past the censors and as a means of portraying homosexuality when they couldn’t actually portray homosexuality.

    Some of this still happens. Arguably the “bromance” between the characters of Castiel and Dean in Supernatural are a throwback to the coded homosexuality of the past. It’s an action show which didn’t set out to be ground breaking in any way, so from what I’ve seen in interviews with cast and show makers…they’re all a bit hesitant to actually portray any real gay relationship on screen. They’ve made jokes about it, which have been fine…though recently have ventured into “queer baiting.” To me that’s where it steps over the line…the show runners are knowingly hinting that Castiel and Dean could be in a relationship in order to appease fandom (and the queer audience), but refuse to actually portray it on screen for fear of alienating their hetero, male audience. And they aren’t limited by censoring or anything…they could be explicit with it if they had the guts.

    All that being said, though, “bromance” isn’t always a front for a gay relationship. And it isn’t always portrayed with a “will they, won’t they” subtext. In a show/movie which has gay characters and is willing to portray that openly, a bromance is just a close friendship without the hinting…because if they already have gay characters, there’s no need to hint at all. So Hollyoaks in the UK does this…the characters of George (who’s gay) and Callum (who’s straight) became really close friends and though of course there was speculation from fans, the show itself never actually hinted they’d get together. They were just two guys who were really close friends.

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